Wessex Einkorn Grain and Flour

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Wessex Einkorn Grain and Flour

Einkorn

Einkorn, a German word meaning ‘single grain’, is one of the oldest cereal grains to be cultivated by man for human consumption and is believed to have been domesticated around 7500 BC. Together with other ancient wheat types, emmer and spelt, these were once one of the most popular types of wheat grown in the UK. The growing of einkorn has been revived by a small group of organic farmers in the North Wessex Downs (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). The einkorn crop grows tall in the field, with an unusual, short, flat, two-row seed head that encloses small, wheat-like grains encased in inedible husk. Einkorn thrives in poor soil and in the adverse weather conditions typically found in Britain. Although einkorn was one of the main cereal foods found in England in the 8th century, improvements in grain storage methods, the difficulty of threshing einkorn (to release the grain) and greater yields of traditional naked wheat eventually led to its demise. During the Bronze Age, its cultivation decreased and it became a relict crop rarely used. Its production completely disappeared in the UK until 2008 when Doves Farm began a collaborative project with a small group of organic farmers to re-establish the production of einkorn, using seed provided by an Agricultural Research Institute. Harvested seed has been multiplied up in successive growing seasons and is re-cleaned before replanting to ensure the integrity of the crop. The Einkorn Growers Group currently comprises three farms and the first harvest of einkorn grain yielded 20 tons in 2010, in 2011 it was 40 tons. Einkorn flour has been available for sale since May 2011. When harvested, the small seeds are enclosed in an inedible outer husk that must be removed prior to milling or cooking. Einkorn can be eaten as a grain, porridge or milled into golden flour, which is soft in texture and excellent for making rustic breads or artisan cakes with a distinctive nutty flavour. The grain has delicious and complex flavours, as well as presenting various nutritional benefits to the consumer such as higher levels of protein and antioxidants than regular wheat. There is evidence that the protein of einkorn (gliadin) may not be as toxic to sufferers of coeliac disease and therefore it may, with further research, be recommended in the future in a gluten-free diet.

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Cereals and flours

Nominated by:Edward Kirby