“Spelt is the best grain … Oily and powerful, but still finer than any other grain. Spelt encourages muscular growth, a good blood count and cheerfulness. In whatever form you eat spelt, whether baked in bread or cooked in a meal, spelt is good and easily digestible.”
This quote comes from Hildegard von Bingen, a Benedictine abbess and healer of the 12th century. She classified spelt as the most important grain and made it the central ingredient of her nutritional teaching. What are the truths behind the myths, and just how does the ancient grain distinguish itself?
Spelt is related to common wheat and originated as a natural hybrid of the ancient grains einkorn and emmer. It requires little to grow, but does need good arable soil. The ears are longer and narrower than those of wheat. The husk encases the grain very tightly and protects it from undesirable environmental substances. This, however, complicates the processing as the grain must be removed from the husk in a separate process before it can be milled into flour.
The Celts and the Egyptians knew that this grain was to be valued. In Europe, it seems that spelt was first cultivated during the Neolithic period (about 4,000 BC), in the foothills of the Alps and in southern Sweden. In the Middle Ages it was grown in parts of Switzerland, in Tyrol, Baden Württemberg and Central Franconia. In the German growing regions, it was given the medieval nickname “Swabian Grain”.
Spelt delivers 62 % carbohydrates, 8.8 % fibre, 2.7 % fat and 13 % protein. The protein content is somewhat higher than that of wheat (11.4 %). This is particularly true for the content of the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine. These fundamental components of proteins promote the formation of brain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. In addition, spelt contains the minerals phosphorus, calcium and magnesium as well as the trace elements zinc, copper, manganese and silicon (silica). It is also rich in vitamins A, E, B1, B2 and niacin. Some people who are allergic to wheat tolerate spelt better…although it is not gluten free.
Crop failures, triggered by wet summers with rain and hail, meant that farmers had to try to make the best of a bad situation. They harvested the half ripe ears of spelt and dried them over a fire. The unripe grains were not milled but cooked. In this way, a palatable and nutritious food that could prevent famine was created. Nowadays spelt is mostly dried using hot air systems. To achieve a smoked effect, this is followed by an additional firing with hardwoods. The husk is removed from the grain after drying. It is through this drying process that the green kernel gets its strong, nutty flavour. The kernels are characterised by high digestibility. Because of the drying process, the green seed flour is no longer suitable for baking. Grünkern is used in the form of whole grains, groats, semolina, flour and flakes in the preparation of casseroles, soups and meat patties.
From Spelt Grape Seed to Spelt Cake Mix
Because of its high content of gluten protein, spelt has excellent baking properties and can be used in the production of a great variety of breads and other bakery products. Spelt has a fine, nutty taste, which makes backaldrin products, like Dinkelix Spelt Wholegrain Bread or Spelt Grape Seed Bread, very popular. Even on the sweet side of backaldrin, there are many products, such as Spelt Yeast Dough, Spelt Gingerbread, Spelt Curd Balls, and Spelt Cake Mix.
This ancient grain has been experiencing a renaissance for several years now. It is considered to be particularly robust, resilient to environmental influences and, on top of that, very tasty and healthy. So, on that note, take a little time to enjoy backaldrin’s range of spelt products.
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