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Other Names for Einkorn

We call it “einkorn” but across the world, Triticum monococcum has many names, and that’s no surprise since it’s the world’s most primitive form of wheat.

Here are the names we’ve collected:

  • einkorn (German)
  • small spelt (Italian)
  • farro piccolo (Italian)
  • engrain (French)
  • Le petit épautre (French)
  • tiphe (Greek)
  • siyez (Turkish)
  • sifon (Hebrew)

The list of names is significant because each has a meaning that weaves Continue reading

Did Wheat Hybridization Give Rise To Celiac Disease?

Starting in the 1960’s, and increasingly in the 1990’s, plant breeders undertook efforts to produce hybrid wheat varieties with the goals of improving yield and disease resistance. Both worthwhile goals but it’s possible that wheat hybridization may have led to the rapidly growing prevalence of celiac disease today.

We learn that not all gluten is created equally. A study identifies that, “Gluten proteins from wheat can induce celiac disease (CD) in genetically susceptible individuals. Specific gluten peptides can be presented by antigen presenting cells to gluten-sensitive T-cell lymphocytes leading to CD.”1

The same abstract explains that a study of over 80 varieties of wheat shows Continue reading

Triticum Monococcum

Triticum monococcum is the domesticated form of einkorn wheat, also know as einkorn farro. The wild form of einkorn is called Triticum boeoticum.

Einkorn Wheat Spikelets

Einkorn is a German word that literally means “one kernel”. This unique grain gets its name from the single (one) kernel per spikelet, or husks containing kernels on the head of the grain plant.

Einkorn wheat has a very simple diploid genetic structure, with only 14 chromosomes compared with the hexaploid genetic structure in modern wheat containing 42 chromosomes.

The attractiveness of the einkorn grain to dieticians and health conscious consumers is its nutritional benefits over other types of wheat. Since wheat is such a large contributor to our diets, eating a wheat high in nutrition can greatly contribute to health.

Continue reading

Eli Rogosa & UMass Amherst Help to Establish Ancient Einkorn Wheat

Eli Rogosa talks in this video about the UMass Amherst program to preserve and establish heirloom wheat grains, including einkorn (Triticum monococcum), into modern agriculture.

It’s interesting how she describes the root system of the heirloom grains compared with the shallow root system of modern wheat, which relies upon chemical fertilizers.

What’s Lacking?

We take for granted many things in our day to day lives.  I suppose it’s essential to cope with the busy schedule all working adults must deal with.  Consider for a moment:  Store-bought flour and baked products.  Most of us assume that the grain used to make all the baked goods and even the packaged flour comes to us much like the story of The Little Red Hen.  She planted the wheat, she watered the wheat, she harvested the wheat, threshed it, took it to the mill to be ground, took the flour home and then baked bread.  Mmm Mmmm good, etc.

Well, up until 1870’s that is basically what happened and on the surface it may not seem to be any different now.  But as the saying goes: the devil is in the details…  From the book, “The Story of a Grain of Wheat” by William C. Edgar (1904) we read the following:

“The substitution of rolls for mill-stones was the most radical advance ever made in the science of milling. Continue reading

Antioxidants in Einkorn Better Preserved In Baking Process

If there were a single change to our daily diet that would significantly increase our daily antioxidant intake, what would that change be?  Eat einkorn bread.

Einkorn Flour with Dried Tomatoes and Garlic

Einkorn's Superior Antioxidant Levels Preserved

I came across some very interesting researcha recently regarding the loss of antioxidants (specifically carotenoids) during the food processing process in the production of bread, water biscuits and pasta.   The flours they studied?  There were three: Einkorn, bread wheat, and durum wheat semolina.

In all three flours, antioxidant levels decreased significantly through the processing stages but einkorn was significantly more successful at preserving its high antioxidant levels through the entire baking process than the other flours.  I thought that was interesting.

You may remember my former post about einkorn nutrition, when I shared some information about einkorn’s superior antioxidant attributes:

  • Einkorn contains 3 to 4 times more beta-carotene than modern wheats (Boosts immunity, helps prevent cancer and heart disease)
  • Einkorn contains 35 times more Vitamin A than modern wheats (Healthy eyes, reproductive organs and prevention of many cancers)
  • Einkorn contains 3 to 4 times more lutein than modern wheats (Prevention of macular degeneration and cataracts)
  • Einkorn contains 4-5 times more riboflavin than modern wheats (Used by the body to create energy and is an antioxidant that slows aging)

Not only are antioxidants much higher in einkorn compared with other grains but now, with the results of this recent study, we learn that einkorn’s carotenoid levels are also better preserved in the bread making process, making it an ideal candidate for improving our modernized diets.

Can you imagine the effect it would have on the health of a child if he or should could grow up eating this ancient einkorn wheat?  The more I think about the impact, the more I realize the need to increase the production of this crop and get it into the hands of more people throughout the world.

References:
a doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.01.034

Grinding Einkorn

Einkorn falling in K-Tec

Fresh whole grain goodness on it's way to become finely ground flour!

I just ground some fresh whole-grain einkorn flour.  It’s beautiful, slightly yellow and about as soft as powdered sugar.  The household grain mill that I used did an awesome  job.  I can’t wait to make pancakes!

There are many different mills on the market that are easy to use and not too expensive.  The big draw for most people in owning your own grain mill is the taste of baked goods made with freshly ground whole grains and the satisfaction of just knowing that you’re getting pure whole-grain goodness with all the nutrients you can possibly get from your grain.  Flour bought in a bag from the store loses a large portion of it’s vitamins by the time you get it.

Personally, I own two household grinders: the K-Tec Kitchen Mill and the Country Living Grain Mill.  I like the K-Tec for it’s speed and the superfine texture it can grind the grain to.  I like the Country Living Grain Mill for it’s versatility, control over the fineness of the flour and relatively efficient hand-grinding.

Household grinders fall into three basic categories:  1) Ceramic Stone Grinders, 2) Steel Burr Grinders and 3) High-speed Impact Grinders.  Like most things in life, these have their advantages and disadvantages.  So, I’ll list them here and let you decide which is the right type for you and your family.

Ceramic Stone Grinders

Advantages:

  • Grinds finer flour than burr grinders and is on par with high-speed impact grinder.
  • Adjustable coarseness:  ranges from cracked wheat and fine flour.
  • Good in a power failure or emergency (if your unit can be hand-turned).

Disadvantages:

  • Manual stone grinders are usually harder to turn than manual burr grinders.
  • Stones will gum up almost instantly if you try to grind oil bearing seeds.
  • Slow and tiring if you are turning by hand.

Steel Burr Grinders

Advantages:

  • Grinds oil bearing seeds as well as dry grains  – burrs will not gum up.
  • Adjustable coarseness:  ranges from racked wheat and fine flour.
  • Resists damage if you miss a stone in your grain.  (I always sort through my grain before milling.)
Country Living GM burrs

High Carbon Steel burrs from Country Living Grain Mill

  • If you are turning by hand, these are generally easier than stone grinders
  • Good in a power failure if it can be hand-turned.

Disadvantages:

  • Will not grind quite as fine as a ceramic stone grinder.
  • Slow and tiring if you are turning by hand.

High-speed Impact Grinders

Advantages:

  • Grinds grain into very fine flour.
  • Grinds grain very quickly.
  • No sweat dripping down your face afterward.

Disadvantages:

  • Very loud (I use ear plugs when using mine…problem solved.)
  • May self-destruct if you miss a large stone in your grain.  (REPEAT:  Always sort through your grain before milling.)
  • Impossible to completely clean it out if you want to avoid mixing with other types of grain. (Think allergies.)
  • Even on the coarsest setting the flour comes out pretty fine.  No “cracked wheat” or graham flour here.
  • Must have electricity.  (This would be important in the event of an extended power failure.)

My in-laws (and their ill-prepared neighbors) were glad they had extra food stored at their house when hurricane Fran steamrolled Raleigh, NC in 1996.  Store shelves were bare before the first rain-drop even fell on land and the power was out on their street for more than a week.  There is a lot that goes into emergency preparedness and having an appropriate grinder on hand might be an important step.

Lack of Toxicity in Einkorn Gliadin

In 2006, the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology released the results of a study which suggested the possibility of adding einkorn grain to the dietary options of celiac patients.  I was able to get a copy of the full study but cannot post it entirely because of copyright restrictions.  Instead, I have quoted the abstract and posted it below:

(For those who don’t know, the genetic classification of einkorn wheat is Triticum monococcum, which is an important detail as you read this post.)

Study Abstract

Lack of intestinal mucosal toxicity of Triticum monococcum in celiac disease patients

Cultivated Einkorn (Triticum monococcum)

Daniela Pizzuti1, Andrea Buda1, Anna D’Odorico1, Renata D’Incà1, Silvia Chiarelli2, Andrea Curioni3 and Diego Martines1

1 Department of Surgical and Gastroenterological Sciences, 2 Department of Surgical and Oncological Sciences, 3 Department of Agricultural Biotechnology, Padua University, Italy

Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 2006; 41: 1305-1311

Objective. The treatment of celiac disease is based on lifelong withdrawal of foods containing gluten. Unfortunately, compliance with a gluten-free diet has proved poor in many patients (mainly due to its low palatability), emphasizing the need for cereal varieties that are not toxic for celiac patients. In evolutionary terms, Triticum monococcum is the oldest and most primitive cultivated wheat. The aim of this study was to evaluate the toxicity of T. monococcum on small intestinal mucosa, using an in vitro organ culture system.
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Types of Wheat: Nutritional Content & Health Benefits Comparison

For over 7,000 years, mankind has cultivated and developed wheat for breads and cereals.  Today, we consume more wheat, as a percentage of our daily diet, than any other food.  Just think about that and the effects wheat can have on our health – good or bad!

We All Love Bread

Wheat Bread, just one of the many ways we like to eat different types of wheat

I’ve been researching the nutritional content of 19 different types of wheat, and I’ve included a link to all of my findings in this post.  This post focuses on the nutritional content and health benefits of einkorn wheat compared with the common types of wheat of which most of our food from the grocery store is made.

In doing my research, it is easy to see why there has been renewed worldwide interest in ancient einkorn.  The interest comes not only from einkorn’s unique gluten structure but also it’s incredible nutritional qualities.

Here are some interesting facts I learned about the nutritional content and health benefits of einkorn:

  • Wheat gluten studies have found einkorn may be non-toxic to suffers of gluten intolerance
  • Einkorn wheat has 14 chromosomes while modern wheats have 42 (Friendly to the body’s digestive system)
  • Einkorn contains 3 to 4 times more beta-carotene than modern wheats (Boosts immunity, helps prevent cancer and heart disease)
  • Einkorn contains 2 times more Vitamin A (retinol equivalent) than modern wheats (Healthy eyes, reproductive organs and prevention of many cancers)
  • Einkorn contains 3 to 4 times more lutein than modern wheats (Prevention of macular degeneration and cataracts)
  • Einkorn contains 4-5 times more riboflavin than modern wheats (Used by the body to create energy and is an antioxidant that slows aging)
  • Einkorn is a “hulled” wheat, whereas modern wheats are not.  The hull can protect the grain from stray chemical contamination and insects making it an easier grain to grow ORGANICALLY!

Einkorn vs Major Types of Wheat Comparison Matrix

Brief Comparison of Einkorn and Major Types

Brief Comparison of Einkorn and Major Types of Wheat

See my full nutritional matrix comparing 19 types of wheat (pdf), including einkorn.  This matrix also includes my sources and references.

Einkorn Wheat Bread: Ötzi the Iceman’s Last Meal

Ötzi the Iceman is Europe’s oldest mummy, dating back to 3,300 B.C.  Ötzi managed to eat a meal of meat, an herb, and bread made from einkorn wheat sometime shortly before his deatha.   The samples that were pulled showed einkorn wheat finely ground, that would have come from einkorn grain ground down to flour and baked into bread.

Ötzi the Iceman in clothing representative of his time

Ötzi the Iceman's Diet Included Einkorn Bread

The story of Ötzi is a topic of interest to me because it is an additional finding to validate that einkorn wheat was a primary grain eaten by most people thousands of years ago. Nutritional Facts & Health Benefits explains how the wheat we eat today is so different from einkorn wheat.

The remainder of this post is unrelated to einkorn but I’ve included more details about Ötzi below since some of you may find them to be of interest.  I think his story is fascinating!

More than likely, Ötzi was from a community that grew einkorn.  Based on his tools and clothing, it appears he was a hunter or was a wealthy man or ruler who got too far from his home town and was chased down by an enemy.

Whatever the story, he is real proof that einkorn wheat was a staple grain of his time. Continue reading

Is Einkorn Gluten Free?

If you’re asking yourself whether Einkorn contains gluten, the answer is “Yes, it absolutely does!”…but I have a secret to tell you.  And I should probably disclose that this is not something your “everyday family doctor” is going to tell you.  Here’s the secret: not all wheat gluten is created equal.

blueberry_pancakes

Tasty Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

I like to explain by comparing sucanat and aspartame sweeteners.   Imagine pouring a perfectly sweetened blueberry syrup over your hot-off-the-stove pancakes for your morning breakfast.  If that syrup is made from natural sucanat sweetener or aspartame, it’s going to taste great either way.  However, inside your body, the aspartame is killing brain cells while the sucanat is an unmodified substance that most people’s body can process naturally, without any damage to the body.

Einkorn has an entirely different genetic makeup than modern wheat.  Modern wheats have been hybridized through years and years and millions and millions of $$$ in research.  The goal of hybridization has been to increase yields, fight against plant disease, pests, weather conditions, etc. and many are starting to wonder if this long history of hybridization is the explanation for the rising number of people with a high intolerance to gluten.

I’m not saying I have all the answers…that’s why I have this website and it’s why I am researching the history and nutritional properties of Einkorn.

Einkorn differs from modern wheat in 3 important ways, all of which may contribute to gluten intolerance:

  • Most modern wheat is a hybrid of many different grains and grasses.
  • Einkorn has a 14 chromosomes , whereas modern wheat has a 42 chromosomes which changes the gluten structure
  • Einkorn is considered more nutritious than modern wheat, based on the higher level of protein, essential fatty acids, phosphorous, potassium, pyridoxine, and beta-carotene.

Is it any wonder that so many people today are plagued with allergies and even extreme sickness as a result of eating modern wheat?



Anyway, getting back to the original question of whether Einkorn flour contains gluten.  Most people ask this question because they would like to start eating bread again.  I hope my answer gives you some hope.

Additionally, I have met some doctors who are working with suffers of celiac and gluten intolerance to see if they can safely eat specific, tested sources of Einkorn.  These patients are going through a healing regimen first to get to this point and the initial results are very promising.

Stay tuned…I think we’re on to something here.