Spelt – Interesting Facts

Spelt is closely related to wheat; it contains potassium and vitamin B1, and is rich in magnesium, phosphorous and zinc. After a long period of being forgotten, spelt is now enjoying a slight renaissance. Whether as spelt flour in sweet or savoury baked goods, or as a rice replacement, the ancient grain has many uses in the kitchen.

Foodfacts Foodfacts

Spelt

Class

Wheat

Calories

63 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

60.3g carbohydrates, 10.0g fibre, 1.7g fat, 15.8g protein per 100 g

Season

available year-round

Storage

cool and dry up to 1 year

Spelt – An Ancient Grain

Spelt has spent a long time in the shadow of wheat, to which it is closely related. In the Caucasus, this resilient, ancient grain was already part of the diet as early as 6,000 BC. The grain came to Europe around 500 AD. In the 20th century, the cultivation of spelt was deemed less important as it is a lower-yielding crop than wheat and requires a more complicated process. This is because the spelt grain is tightly enclosed by a shell which needs to be removed before being processed – an added step in the processing method.

Variety in the Kitchen

Spelt has a slight nutty flavour and can be used similarly to wheat. You can buy spelt in the supermarket as whole seeds, crushed, spelt flakes, or as flour. Food producers use the grain for products such as bread, pastries, pasta and beer. Spelt flour can be used for baking in the same way as wheat flour. Some breads taste even better with spelt. Spelt flakes are a good replacement for wheat flakes in muesli.

Whole seeds can be used as a substitute for rice or as a side to salads, stews and soups. Spelt is easy to cook. As a rough guideline, spelt should be boiled with two or three times the amount of water as grains. Cooking time can take up to 60 minutes or longer. This can be reduced to half an hour if you leave the grains to soak overnight. In the supermarket you can find pearled spelt which has a shorter cooking time of about 20 minutes.

Gruenkern – immatured spelt

Gruenkern is spelt that has been harvested whilst it’s still green and then immediately dried in a kiln so that it keeps for longer. Gruenkern is available whole, in flakes, or as flour. It’s ideal for dumplings, vegetarian burgers, soups, or even as a colourful salad topping. It has a slightly nutty and smoky taste.

Alternative to Wheat

If you’ve never tried spelt, do so now! Not only are there plenty of tasty recipes using this ancient grain, spelt also contains lots of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and has a high fibre content. For those who suffer from coeliac disease, however, spelt is not suitable as it does contain gluten. In fact, it contains more gluten than wheat. However, for those with just a wheat allergy, it is an interesting alternative to wheat. Many people with a wheat allergy or a wheat intolerance can generally tolerate spelt without any problems.

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