Creative Commons License photo credit: Rowan of Ravara

SPELT – what’s the big deal?

by HartkeisOnline contributor, Andrea Milstein

Guest Contributor, Andrea Milstein

I get repeated questions on spelt and I thought I would do a little write-up on it since not all that many people know what it is. Back in ol’ Austria (which is where I’m from) almost nobody bothers to use wheat. Why should they, if they can have spelt. Let me explain. Spelt is an ancient grain and a distant cousin of wheat. There are 1,000’s of wheat varieties out there all  results of many cross breedings. Spelt is higher in just about any nutrient, Vitamins B1, B2, B3,B6, E, iron, potassium, calcium as well as amino acids. In addition it has wonderful baking qualities and a slightly nutty taste. Spelt is highly water soluble and  much easier to digest than wheat. Its vital substances are quickly absorbed by the body with a minimum of digestive work, a very important aspect for people with wheat sensitivities.

The spelt kernel is surrounded by a tight husk (wheat doesn’t have this) which protects the grain from pests. Pesticides and fungicides are neither needed nor required in the growth of spelt thanks to its natural tight husk which protects it but has to be removed before milling and therefore makes it more expensive to process. Thanks to industrial farming methods very few farmers in the US grow spelt because it is more expensive to grow with a lower yield than wheat. I have been working with an organically certified farmer in Halifax, PA who is growing a true spelt variety (Oberkulmer) with no wheat bred into it. He has been imporving his quality of spelt with the help of one of the foremost Austrian spelt farmers. He also has a brand new stone mill and produces freshly milled whole spelt flour containing the bran and germ and with all of its healthful vitamins, minerals and fatty acids still intact.

Whole spelt flour can be substituted for wheat flour in just about any recipe but there are a few tricks to the trade.Freshly ground spelt flour spoils easily and should be stored in the freezer (it can be used straight from it). If you want to learn more and get inspired come and attend one of my Saturday classes in Oakton, VA. They run from 10am-12noon and will resume in the fall of 09.

For more information go to www.cookingwithanaccent.com . For those of you in the Northern Virginia or Metro DC area, please contact me via my web-site if you are interested in freshly ground whole spelt or spelt grains. I’m currently collecting orders for the next shipment.Please, only local orders, so people can pick up from my house.

Note from Kimberly: For those of you who are outside the Northern Virginia area, you can order sprouted spelt flour from our RealFoodMedia.com advertisers, Natural Health Alternatives at their website: http://www.building-health.com/

Stay Tuned next Wenesday for some yummy spelt recipes!

Andrea Milstein is a wife, mother, homemaker and cooking instructor in Oakton, Virginia. She is an active member of the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Northern Virginia Whole Foods Meetup group. Visit her Cooking with an Accent website. Andrea has agreed to be a regular contributor to Hartke Is Online! Please let us know in the comments if you try one of her delicious recipes!

This post is part of the Real Food Wednesday blog carnival!  Check it out for more food stories and recipes!