Einkorn Ancient Grain
a lower gluten alternative to modern wheat
Einkorn ancient grain is making a comeback in modern times.
History of Einkorn, the Ancient Grain
Einkorn is an ancient grain, and is known as the oldest variety of "wheat." Einkorn is also sometimes referred to as "farro" or "farro einkorn." Einkorn was first cultivated 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. It is classified as a "diploid" because it only has two sets of chromosomes. Modern wheat varieties are classified as "hexaploid," having six sets of chromosomes, due to a long history of hybridization.
Einkorn is thought to have originated in the upper area of the Fertile Crescent of the Near East (Tigris-Euphrates regions), and is quite probably the main grain recorded in the earliest biblical history. Einkorn became widely distributed throughout the Near East, Transcaucasia, the Mediterranean region, southwestern Europe, and the Balkans, and was one of the first cereals cultivated for food.
Another ancient grain, emmer, has four sets of chromosomes and was probably an early hybrid of wild einkorn that was more suitable for a wider range of climates and geographical areas, particularly warmer climates. Emmer became the predominant wheat throughout the Near and Far East, Europe and northern Africa until about 4,000-1,000 BCE, although it was still cultivated in isolated regions such as south-central Russia into the last century, and even today remains an important crop in Ethiopia and a minor crop in Italy and India.
The oldest hexaploid grain and the predecessor to modern wheat is probably spelt. Spelt was a hybrid of emmer with more adaptability then emmer. These three ancient grains are known as "the covered wheats," since the kernels do not thresh free of their hard coverings, making them more labor intensive to mill.
These ancient grains went through a long history of hybridizations to make them easier to mill and process into our modern day wheat, and to make them more desirable for bread making with a higher gluten content. But due to gluten toxicity issues in modern times, many are reviving the ancient varieties of grains, and einkorn is the oldest.
Nutritional Characteristics of Einkorn
The ancient grain einkorn (triticum monococcum) is packed with nutrition. It is a rich source of the beta carotene lutein, a powerful antioxidant. Einkorn has the highest amounts of lutein of any other variety of wheat.
Einkorn is also a rich source of tocotrienols and tocopherols, powerful antioxidants and forms of Vitamin E. Compared to modern wheat varieties, einkorn has higher levels of protein, crude fat, phosphorous, and potassium.
Gluten and Toxicity
Since einkorn is such an ancient grain and the only known diploid classified variety of wheat still known to exist today, there has been considerable interest in the issue of gluten toxicity. One way of measuring gluten toxicity is by the gliadin to glutenin ratio, and einkorn has a much more favorable ratio than modern wheat varieties.
Einkorn has a gliadin to glutenin ratio of 2:1 compared to 0.8:1 for durum and hard red wheat. While this lower gluten ratio may hold some promise for gluten intolerance disorders, it should be cautioned that einkorn DOES contain gluten, and so those desiring to avoid all gluten are NOT recommended to consume einkorn.
How to use Einkorn Whole Grain Berries?
Einkorn can be enjoyed in many different ways and is a very versatile grain.
It can be ground into a fresh flour, suitable for any number of baked goods, with use of a home grain mill.
Einkorn can also be prepared similar to that of rice or pasta, and can be served in pilafs, as risotto, tossed in a cold salad, under sauce or olive oil.
Einkorn also makes for a delicious and satisfying hot porridge for breakfast. It can be enjoyed sweet with fruit, yogurt, or other topping, but can also be a savory cereal with spices and herbs.
For a sweet cereal, use milk or a combination of milk and water as the cooking liquid or for a more savory option try using chicken or vegetable broth as the liquid. Einkorn can also be cracked in your grain mill and then prepared similar to steel cut oats.
For cooking Einkorn, again versatility is the theme. It can be prepared on the stove top, slow cooker, oven, rice cooker, or pressure cooker. A good rule of thumb is to cook the Einkorn until al-dente.
How to soak Einkorn:
Like all grains, Einkorn can benefit from a cold pre-soak. Simply cover the grain with cold water in a container and place in the fridge from 8 to 24 hours. Then drain off the water and cook as you normally would, but with reduced time!
A simple stove top method for Einkorn Whole Grain Berries:
- 1 cup of Einkorn Whole Grain Berries
- 3 cups of cooking liquid (water, broth, milk, etc.)
- Optional are salt, butter, olive oil, aromatics etc.
Place ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil on high heat.
Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer.
Simmer time will vary depending on the choice of pre-soaking or not. These times are approximate:
- 45 minutes for Unsoaked Whole Grain
- 20 minutes for Soaked Whole Grain
Begin to test for an al-dente texture.
Once al-dente is achieved remove the pot from the heat.
Strain off the remaining liquid as needed.
Read this blog post on: Baking with the Ancient Grain Einkorn
1.Alternative Wheat Cereals as Food Grains: Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt, Kamut, and Triticale, by G.F. Stallknecht, K.M. Gilbertson, and J.E. Ranney - Center for New Crops & Plant Products, Purdue University
2.Carotenoids and tocols of einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum ssp. monococcum L.), by Alyssa Hidalgoa, Andrea Brandolinib, Carlo Pompeia, Roberta Piscozzi, DISTAM–Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Alimentari e Microbiologiche, University of Milan, Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milan, Italy - Journal of Cereal Science Volume 44, Issue 2, September 2006, Pages 182–193
3.Against the Grain, by Katherine Czapp, The Weston A. Price Foundation
4.Lack of intestinal mucosal toxicity of Triticum monococcum in celiac disease patients. by Pizzuti D, Buda A, D'Odorico A, D'Incà R, Chiarelli S, Curioni A, Martines D. Source Department of Surgical and Gastroenterological Sciences, Padua University, Italy - Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterol. 2006 Nov;41(11):1305-11.
Purchase Organic Whole Grain Einkorn Pasta
Whole Grain Einkorn Pasta is a delicious foundation to a nutritious and enjoyable meal. Although Whole Grain Einkorn is a healthy source of dietary fiber, it does not have a grainy or gritty texture. Packed with protein, B vitamins and minerals, it will leave you feeling very satisfied. This pasta is masterly crafted in Italy by expert pasta artisans, who only enhance the inherent goodness of this most ancient grain.PACKED WITH NUTRITION
- High in Thiamin, essential dietary and trace minerals
- Good source of protein, dietary fiber and B Vitamins.
- One 2oz. serving contains as much of the antioxidant Lutein as a whole egg.
- Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) twice that of whole durum wheat pasta.