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I credit this aproach with my family avoiding any wheat allergies or problems digesting grains in general. This is true provided they are traditionally prepared. Bulgur is an example of this ancestral practice still widely used today.
For those of you who do have wheat issues, you’ll be encouraged to know that my husband used to have allergy and digestive issues with wheat years ago. He no longer does thanks to careful avoidance of wheat for several years, rebalancing the gut with traditional cooking, raw dairy, and the GAPS Diet.
Having a lot of experience dealing with wheat allergies, I can say that there certainly is a huge difference between modern processed wheat, products made with it such as seitan and what you produce yourself at home.
I remember when I was breastfeeding my youngest child, if I ate so much as a mouthful or two of processed wheat at a restaurant in the form of a sandwich, slice of pizza or a bread roll, she would spit up for one or sometimes even two days!
If I ate wheat that I ground myself and either sprouted, soaked, or sour leavened, however, she never had any spit up issues. To me, this was a huge testament to the radically improved digestibility of wheat that is prepared using the wise methods of ancestral cultures.
Given my success over the years with incorporating traditional methods of wheat preparation in my home, you may be surprised to learn that I’m switching the type I use.
What’s more, I’m switching 100%.
I still have about half of a large bucket of organic spelt to use up and a small amount of organic soft white wheat before the switch is complete. My goal is to have my family completely transitioned to einkorn wheat within another month or two.
Reason #1: Einkorn Tastes Better
My first experience baking with einkorn occurred after I received a thoughtful gift of, among other things, einkorn flour and wheat berries. I was delighted when I ground the einkorn into flour and saw how light and white it was.
I am not a fan of bran and am not of the food philosophy that all that fiber is actually good for you. Folks just think they need a lot of fiber as they are so constipated from all the processed foods they eat! Observing that einkorn, the most ancient and unhybridized form of wheat, has less bran compared with modern wheat was encouraging to me.
I was thrilled to see that my family thoroughly enjoyed the soaked waffles made with fresh einkorn flour. It was my first einkorn dish! Ever since, they have asked me to use only that flour.
Like any Mom, I’m a sucker for kids who love my cooking and tell me so on a frequent basis. So, I made the easy decision to switch to einkorn completely for all my home baking.
Reason #2: My Family Digests Einkorn Better Than Even Spelt
My husband’s stomach is my canary in the coal mine. If something is not easy to digest, he can tell and lets me know right away. As he has fully recovered from a wheat allergy, he knows which forms of wheat and which preparation methods sit best in his stomach and which do not.
While my properly prepared grain dishes made with wheat or spelt digest fine for him, once he tried the einkorn, he could tell that his digestion was even lighter for the experience. This is possibly because einkorn contains good gluten, different on a molecular level from modern gluten. It is much better tolerated by those with gluten sensitivity.
Better digestion means better absorption of nutrients, so einkorn surpassed the competition in that category.
Reason #3: Einkorn is Different from Modern WheatThe first thing I noticed when I ground einkorn into flour for the first time was how much smaller a grain of einkorn is compared with a grain of modern wheat. They are about half the size!
In addition, the telltale crease on one side of a grain of modern wheat is absent from a grain of einkorn. The reason for the differences is that over the centuries, the genetics of wheat gradually changed due to human cultivation practices. Year after year, farmers selected the seeds at harvest time that suited the goal of higher yields and more gluten. This worked best for big farms and larger scale agriculture, production, and distribution of wheat products.
Reason #4: Einkorn is The Purest Form of Wheat AvailableEinkorn is like most plants in that it is a diploid. This means that contains only 2 sets of chromosomes. About 2,000 years after einkorn wheat, nature created emmer via the hybridization of 2 wild grasses. Consequently, emmer has 4 sets of chromosomes. Kamut and durum (bulgur) wheat are both descendants of emmer.
Spelt, an heirloom wheat, is the result of hybridization between cultivated emmer and another wild grass. Thus, it contains six sets of chromosomes. Modern wheat is a descendant of spelt.
Note that while humans extensively hybridized wheat over the millennia, there is currently no genetically modified wheat on the market. In the Western United States, however, test plots of GMO wheat have caused some contamination issues.
As you can see, einkorn is the purest and most ancient form of wheat available. It has only 2 sets of chromosomes with a very different composition of gluten. This form is easier to digest for many with non-genetic gluten intolerance.
Where to Source the Best Quality Einkorn
The only downside of einkorn is that it is not yet widely available. It is still very new to the American market. My healthy shopping guide lists sources that are fast and affordable to ship to your door. I use these sources myself.The organic einkorn wheat berries from these sources are grown and packaged on one secluded and pristine farm in Tuscany. It is very important to rotate crops on this farm. This is due to the hilly terrain, where yields are low and the land must stay fertile.
What this means is that this particular source of organic einkorn comes from fully pastured fields for five years prior. In addition, soil nutrition is enhanced using one year of crop rotation with cultivation of chick peas, lentils or fava beans. This ensures that there is no risk of cross-contamination with other types of grains. Each year’s crop of einkorn comes from truly fertile earth!
Have you tried einkorn wheat yet? If so, what observations have you made about this ancient, unhybridized wheat?
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist