When you first hear the world “spelt” you’d probably think that this is some sort of food from the medieval period, and you would be right. This was a staple grain back in the bronze age all the way up to the medieval time that kind of lost popularity due to the rise of bread wheat. Spelt is now considered a reclict (yes, that’s spelled right) crop which means that it was previously an abundant crop but now can only be found in a few areas. Today’s health food movement has breathed new life into spelt as more and more farmers are now growing it to fulfil the demands for spelt as a health food.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Poales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Triticum
- Species: T. spelta
- Binomial name: Triticum spelta
- Spelt is also known as an “ancient wheat”
- Spelt flour can be substituted for any recipe that calls for wheat flour as it has a high gluen content
- In France, spelt is considered the caviar of wheat
- Of all the grains, spelt has one of the nuttiest flavors, this is enhanced further by toasting the grain before milling
- Spelt hull is often used as a natural pillow stuffing for those who are allergic to feathers
Spelt Buying Guide
To preserve its image as a health food, a lot of the spelt you can find at markets will be grown organically. But to be safe, look for the USDA organic seal on your spelt packaging or buy direct from local farmers that still plant spelt the traditional way.
Spelt Production & Farming in Texas
Published material from the 1916 has shown that spelt has been grown in Texas as fodder before being replaced by higher yielding grains such as barley, oat, rye, and triticulum. With the popularity of healthier food and demand for healthier grains rising, growing spelt has seen a resurgence especially with a lot of farmsteads and farms that focus on organic farming regenerative agriculture. Spelt is hardier than wheat and as of this writing, fetches a higher price due to its classification as a gourmet health food. You can find spelt being sold as flour from many of the local gristmills and as berries in many farmers markets around the state.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
While there is still no formal study done on pesticide residues being found on spelt, it is worth noting that grains are categorized as the type of food products that should be purchased organic if available. The reason for this is that many grains (wheat, rice and so on) are sprayed with a variety of pesticides and chemicals in order to increase its yield.
Spelt, whether as whole berries or flour is usually packed in resealable kraft or plastic pouches. Larger quantities of spelt are sold in burlap sacks or in woven sacks, same as wheat and rice.
Spelt is usually toasted, milled, and used as a flour for many baking applications. Many artisanal bread makers have now added the use of spelt flour in place of wheat to add a more rustic and “healthy” taste and feel to their bread.
Spelt is stored the same way wheat is stored. Spelt flour will keep for at least six months if stored in a cool and dark place (airtight container of course) and up to a year in the freezer. Spelt berries on the other hand can be stored for a longer period, up to a year in room temperature.
Cook your own spelt salad:
While spelt has gained popularity in many baking applications, our favorite way to prepare it would be as a replacement to pasta in cold salads. Cooked spelt has a pleasant al-dente texture to it and a mild nuttiness that complement many fruits and vegetables.
Dried spelt berries, 1 ½ cups
Water, 4 ½ cups
Seasonal green beans, 12 oz
Cherry tomatoes, 12 oz
Fresh Parsley, ¼ cup chopped
Chives, ¼ cup chopped
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, 1/3 cup
Good Balsamic Vinegar, 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add the spelt. Bring the water back up to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Cover and allow to let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until the spelt is tender.
Drain the spelt and toss with a little bit of salt and olive oil, set aside.
Quickly blanch the green beans and slice them, set aside.
Slice the tomatoes, cucumber and herbs and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar until emulsified.
Toss everything together in a big bowl and serve!