Sometimes the original ideas are still the best. The wheel hasn't
changed much in thousands of years, and tasty and nutritious spelt, one of
the first grains to be grown by early farmers as long ago as 5,000 BC., is
finding renewed popularity with American consumers.
Spelt's "nutty" flavor has long been popular in Europe, where it is
also known as "Farro" (Italy) and "Dinkle" (Germany). In Roman times it
was "Farrum", and origins can be traced back early Mesopotamia. Spelt
(Triticum spelta) is a ancient and distant cousin to modern wheat
(Triticum aestivum). Spelt is one of the oldest of cultivated grains,
preceded only by Emmer and Elkorn.
But it's not just good taste that has caught the attention of consumers
on this side of the Atlantic. The grain is naturally high in fiber, and
contain significantly more protein than wheat. Spelt is also higher in B
complex vitamins, and both simple and complex carbohydrates. Another
important benefit is that some gluten-sensitive people have been able to
include spelt-based foods in their diets.
Some 800 years ago Hildegard von Bingen, (St.Hildegard) wrote about
spelt: "The spelt is the best of grains. It is rich and nourishing and
milder than other grain. It produces a strong body and healthy blood to
those who eat it and it makes the spirit of man light and cheerful. If
someone is ill boil some spelt, mix it with egg and this will heal him
like a fine ointment."
What brought the decline in production of spelt in North America is now
thought of as a benefit. Spelt has a tough hull, or husk, that makes it
more difficult to process than modern wheat varieties. However, the husk,
separated just before milling, not only protects the kernel, but helps
retain nutrients and maintain freshness. Modern wheat has changed
dramatically over the decades as it has been bred to be easier to grow and
harvest, to increase yield, and to have a high gluten content for the
production of high-volume commercial baked goods. Unlike wheat, spelt has
retained many of its original traits and remains highly nutritious and
full of flavor.
Also, unlike other grains, spelt's husk protects it from pollutants and
insects and usually allows growers to avoid using pesticides.
Since its reintroduction to the market in 1987 by Purity Foods Inc.,
spelt has become a top-selling product in the organic and health food
markets. Flour made from the versatile grain can be substituted for wheat
flour in breads, pasta, cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pancakes and
Modern cooks are rediscovering the full flavor of whole grain spelt
pastas and breads, the more subtle flavor and texture of white pastas and
flours as well as spelt kernels in their dishes.
So if you're looking for a new idea that's been tested by the ages,
learn more about spelt by visiting the Purity Food Inc. web site at http://www.purityfoods.com.
Written by: J.T. Hoagland of Purity Foods
For further information on spelt and other early grains:
DNA Research shows that the
Ancinet Greeks Knew Spelt
New Clues Show Where People Made
the Great Leap to Agriculture
Alternative Wheat Cereals as