Einkorn, the Ancestor Wheat
Throughout the history of agriculture, wheat has been cultivated and hybridized to increase yield, pest resistance, and elasticity in baked goods. As a result, today’s wheat has a much more complex genetic makeup, which makes it very hard to digest. To challenge our digestion even more, most of the nonorganic wheat in the United States is “Roundup Ready,” which means its genes have been altered to withstand the patented weed killer Roundup, a potent herbicide. The more the genetic structure of the grain has been manipulated, the more likely that its proteins can cause intestinal distress. No wonder we have such an explosion of gluten intolerance!
Einkorn was one of the first foods planted, at the dawn of agriculture ten thousand years ago, and the genetics of einkorn wheat haven’t changed since these ancient times. It is considered a pure form of wheat that is more nutritious and tastes and digests in the body the way nature intended it. In English, we borrow the word einkorn from the German, meaning “single grain”; that’s because einkorn only has one grain attached to the stem, while other wheat varieties have groups of four grains.
Einkorn is incredibly delicious and easy to cook with, though some adjustments may be needed when converting recipes from contemporary wheat to einkorn. Bread dough made with einkorn can be very sticky, while cake batters sometimes can get gummy with mixing. Visit www.jovialfoods.com for useful baking tips and more einkorn recipes.
Here are some facts about einkorn:
- It is a good source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, and a number of B vitamins.
- It contains a remarkable amount of the powerful antioxidant lutein.
- It is high in thiamin and essential dietary and trace minerals.
- It undergoes a lower percentage of nutrient loss during processing.
Yes, einkorn contains gluten, but the grain lacks the high molecular weight of proteins that many people can’t digest. Unless you have celiac disease or a genetic reaction to gluten, einkorn might be an excellent solution for gluten sensitivity.