I came across Einkorn a few years ago and have enjoyed adding it to my pantry. Baking with it has generated some true failures, especially the first time I baked sourdough with it and I just added more and more and more flour trying to get it less sticky! (I had no idea it was supposed to be sticky!)
Being the world’s only non-hybridized grain left, the more I’ve learned about this unique and nutritious wheat variety the more I’ve enjoyed baking with it. Einkorn has a pleasant taste and silky texture, which makes it an interesting ingredient to experiment with in the kitchen.
Einkorn is known to be easier to digest, less likely to cause gut inflammation, and more tolerable for those with gluten sensitivity. It’s no wonder that people are starting to pay attention to this versatile grain! However, it can be a little tricky to work with sometimes, as its sticky nature often requires recipe modifications. But don’t worry, with practice and patience, incorporating Einkorn into your meals can be a fun and rewarding experience.
As someone who enjoys embracing ingredients with rich history, it’s exciting to know that Einkorn was grown by farmers 5,000 years ago. It truly is an ancient grain and might just be the key to discovering new, delicious, and healthier ways to enjoy wheat-based dishes. So, let’s journey together into the wonderful world of Einkorn and unlock the secrets of this fascinating ancient grain.
History and origin
I recently learned that Einkorn is one of the oldest and most intriguing grains out there. It is the world’s only non-hybridized grain, which traces its origins back to the Tigris-Euphrates regions around 7500 BC. These areas are now known as parts of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq.
During the Neolithic Revolution, Einkorn played a crucial role in the development of agriculture. It was actually one of the first cereals to be domesticated, making it an integral part of early human civilization. Interestingly, Einkorn wasn’t always the way we know it today. It began as a wild form, which can be traced back to tens of thousands of years ago, and its domestication process led to the creation of Triticum monococcum.
The fertile region where Einkorn originated is often referred to as the Fertile Crescent, which is responsible for many of the world’s most significant innovations, such as the wheel, glass, writing, and irrigation. Einkorn’s cultivation thrived in this area until the arrival of the more productive emmer wheat—an offspring resulting from the hybridization between Einkorn and goat grass.
In addition to its presence in the Middle East, Einkorn has also been discovered in other parts of the world, such as Morocco. Despite its decline in popularity due to the rise of more efficient and modern crops, this ancient grain has garnered new attention for its unique properties and potential health benefits. So the next time you encounter Einkorn in a recipe or at your local grocer, you’ll know a bit more about its fascinating history and origin.
Einkorn against other ancient grains
Emmer is another ancient grain that originated around 8000 BC. I found that it is quite similar to Einkorn, considering that they are both types of wheat. However, Emmer has a higher chromosome count (28) compared to Einkorn’s 14 chromosomes. Emmer has a nutty flavor, is high in fiber, and can be used in making bread and pasta.
Spelt is yet another ancient wheat variety that is closely related to both Emmer and Einkorn. It has a lovely nutty and slightly sweet flavor that I personally enjoy. The bread made from spelt is denser than those made from modern wheat. Its 42 chromosomes make it easier to digest than modern wheat but more challenging than Einkorn which has 14.
Kamut, also known as Khorasan wheat, has a buttery flavor and is higher in protein than most other ancient grains. It has 28 chromosomes, making it a better option for those with wheat sensitivities, but again, is double the amount of Einkorn. Both Kamut and Einkorn work well in various recipes, from bread and pasta to salads and pilafs and are good alternatives to traditional wheat.
Amaranth is not a type of wheat but a gluten-free seed that dates back to the Aztec civilization. Although it’s smaller than other ancient grains, I’ve discovered that it’s a fantastic source of complete protein, iron, and magnesium. The tiny seeds can be cooked, popped, or ground into flour. Einkorn is great for someone who is gluten-sensitive, but amaranth is a great option if you have a true gluten allergy (like Celiac disease).
Quinoa, another gluten-free pseudograin, originates from the Andean region of South America. It cooks up fluffy, with a mild nutty flavor that I can use in a wide array of dishes. Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source but it’s a totally different type of grain than Einkorn, so it’s not a good wheat replacement.
Einkorn is an ancient grain that has been gaining popularity due to its impressive nutritional profile. In a 100 g (or 3.5 oz) serving of Einkorn, you’ll find:
|Nutrient||Amount per 100g|
|Dietary Fiber||4.3 g|
|Total Fat||2.7 g|
|– Saturated Fat||0.3 g|
|– Monounsaturated Fat||0.6 g|
|– Polyunsaturated Fat||1.4 g|
|Vitamins & Minerals|
|– Vitamin B6||0.4 mg|
|– Folate||67 mcg|
|– Iron||2.8 mg|
|– Magnesium||85 mg|
|– Phosphorus||355 mg|
|– Potassium||398 mg|
|– Zinc||3.3 mg|
I am always trying to maximize protein in my family’s diet, especially my kids who would prefer carbs carbs carbs! Choosing a high-protein wheat can make a big difference in managing unhealthy glucose spikes.
This ancient wheat variety offers plenty of protein, making it a great choice for those looking to incorporate more proteins into their diet. It does’t compare to what you can find in animal-based foods like chicken, beef, or the incredible-edible-egg (ha!) but for a grain, 14.8g is amazing, especially when you’re comparing it to all-purpose flour, which can be anywhere from 8-10g.
- Nutrient density: Einkorn is a good source of essential nutrients, including protein, dietary fiber, B-vitamins (such as B6 and folate), and minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients play important roles in various bodily functions, including energy production, immune support, and bone health
- Digestibility: Some people find Einkorn more easily digestible compared to modern wheat varieties. Its simpler genetic structure and lower gluten content might contribute to this characteristic. However, Einkorn is not gluten-free, so if you have a gluten-sensitivity or Celiac Disease, it’s not a good choice
- Lower gluten content: Einkorn contains a different type of gluten compared to modern wheat. While it’s not entirely gluten-free, its gluten structure is simpler and may be better tolerated by some individuals who have mild sensitivities to gluten. This makes its a bit harder to work with when making breads and takes some time to get used to as it will not rise as high as traditional wheat
- Rich in antioxidants: Einkorn is relatively rich in antioxidants, including tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) and lutein, which aids in healthy eyes. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress and inflammation, potentially contributing to overall health and disease prevention
- Potential blood sugar regulation: Einkorn’s lower glycemic index (GI) and higher fiber content compared to modern wheat might contribute to better blood sugar control. Foods with a lower GI tend to cause slower and steadier increases in blood sugar levels.
- Satiety: The combination of protein and fiber in einkorn can contribute to a feeling of fullness, which may aid in appetite control and weight management.
- Ancient grain appeal: Einkorn has an ancient heritage and connection to traditional diets. This appeal is part of a larger movement toward consuming less processed and more whole foods. Einkorn is less processed and has fewer chromosomes than modern wheat, making it easier for some individuals to digest
Apart from its nutritional benefits, Einkorn’s flavor is great. It’s my husband’s favorite grain because it has a distinct nutty flavor which is very different from other wheats. and rich texture, making it a great choice for pasta dishes and dense breads. If you’re looking for a delicious, nutrient-dense grain, einkorn is definitely worth trying.
Boosting Einkorn’s nutrition
One of the reasons Einkorn is growing in popularity is its nutritional profile. As a lover of ancient grains, I always look for ways to enhance the nutritional benefits of my favorite grains. In this section, I will share my tips for getting the most out of Einkorn’s nutrition.
Soaking and sprouting
I have found that soaking and sprouting Einkorn is a simple and effective method to increase its nutritional value. Soaking the grains overnight helps break down phytic acid, which can bind up to 80 percent of magnesium and iron in the grain, along with calcium, copper, and zinc source. Sprouting Einkorn can further enhance the nutrients while making it easier for our bodies to absorb and digest.
To soak Einkorn, just follow these steps:
- Place Einkorn grains in a bowl and cover them with water
- Let them sit overnight
- Drain and rinse the grains in the morning
For sprouting, I recommend allowing the soaked Einkorn to sit for another day or two, rinsing twice daily, until small sprouts appear.
Combining with other ingredients
When I cook Einkorn, I like to combine it with other nutritious ingredients to create a well-balanced and nutrient-dense meal. Adding beans, vegetables, or seeds to an Einkorn dish can further enhance its nutritional value. For example, a simple Einkorn salad with chickpeas, roasted vegetables, and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds adds protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to the meal.
Don’t forget that the choice of cooking method also plays an essential role in preserving Einkorn’s nutrients. I prefer to use gentle cooking methods like steaming or simmering, and I am careful not to overcook the grain to maintain its nutritious properties.
With these methods, I find that Einkorn’s nutritional benefits can be easily boosted, making this ancient grain an even healthier choice for me and my family. So, the next time you cook Einkorn, give these tips a try and enjoy the benefits!
Gluten and wheat sensitivity
It turns out that Einkorn, being an ancient grain, has a simpler gluten structure than modern wheat varieties. This makes it relatively easier to digest for some individuals with gluten intolerance. However, it’s important to note that einkorn is not gluten-free, and people with severe gluten intolerance or allergies should still exercise caution when consuming Einkorn products.
Since einkorn is not gluten-free, it’s not suitable for individuals with celiac disease. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder where gluten consumption triggers damage to the small intestine. While some studies have shown that Einkorn’s gliadin (a type of gluten protein) might not cause as much damage to the intestinal villi as modern wheat, it is still not considered safe for those with celiac disease.
Einkorn flour is an excellent option for those who love to bake but may be sensitive to modern wheat varieties. I’ve found that using Einkorn flour in my baking recipes has not only resulted in delicious treats but has also been easier on my stomach. Baking with Einkorn flour does require some adjustments to your favorite recipes, as the texture and gluten content are different than modern flour varieties. Some great recipes to try with Einkorn flour include pancakes, waffles, cookies, and even pie crusts!
When milling Einkorn flour, it’s essential to source high-quality grains to ensure the best flavor and nutritional value.
Einkorn bread is a delicious and nutritious alternative to traditional bread made with modern wheat. With its unique flavor and golden color, it’s perfect for making sandwiches or enjoying as a side with a crisp salad. The process for making Einkorn bread is similar to other bread recipes, with some modifications to account for the differences in gluten content and texture.
- For quick breads: Use whole Einkorn flour exactly as a recipe calls, making no modifications
- For dough breads: Use 1/3 less liquid than it calls for in the recipe. It is more important to use less liquid rather than using MORE flour
- Don’t over knead: Einkorn has a totally different gluten than modern wheat and does not need to be mixed for very long, especially with an electric mixer. Try not to go over 3-5 minutes
- Set expectations about rising: Einkorn will not rise as much as modern wheat and that is okay! Just know going into your bread making
Einkorn flour can also be used to make crackers, brownies, and even pasta, making it a versatile addition to any baker’s pantry. I’ve found that using Einkorn flour in my sourdough starter has also led to scrumptious and hearty Einkorn sourdough bread that’s perfect for dipping in soups or enjoying with a generous spread of butter.
Whether you’re looking for a bread recipe or want to experiment with other delicious baked goods, Einkorn flour is an excellent option for those wanting to explore the world of ancient grains. Just remember to adjust your recipes accordingly and enjoy the delicious, wholesome results!
Cooking tips and techniques
Yield and texture
When it comes to cooking with Einkorn, I’ve discovered that the grain’s yield and texture can vary. Basic cooked Einkorn requires a 2:1 ratio of water to einkorn berries (e.g., 2 cups of water for 1 cup of grain) and takes around 30 to 40 minutes to cook.
Storing Einkorn properly is crucial to preserving its wonderful qualities. I always make sure to keep my Einkorn berries in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. This means they are kept in my pantry either in a food-grade bucket or in a smaller jar. The smaller jar is my “working stash” while the food-grade bucket is my “storage stash.”
If I have any unused Einkorn flour and I know I’ll use it within a week, I keep it on my kitchen counter, otherwise it goes in the freezer.
This helps maintain the freshness and nutrient content of the grain. For any cooked Einkorn, I store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Working with Einkorn might take a bit of trial and error, as it’s a unique grain that lacks some of the modern wheat traits we’re used to. I found that adapting my existing wheat-based recipes to incorporate einkorn requires a few modifications, like adjusting the amount of liquid, to get the desired consistency.
While it might take a little practice to perfect these adjustments, I’ve found that it’s well worth the effort. Embracing the learning curve has allowed me to enjoy the many benefits that this non-hybridized, ancient grain has to offer, like its lower gluten levels and rich nutrient profile.
My kids and husband enjoy the flavor of Einkorn and it’s been well worth the switch.
Finding Einkorn might seem like a challenge, but fear not! I have some great tips to help you on your journey to experience this ancient grain. Einkorn is not as readily available in grocery stores as other grains, but with a little diligence, you can find it.
Online: One of the most convenient ways to source Einkorn is through online stores. I have found that Pleasant Hill Grains is an excellent resource for very clean Einkorn berries.
Local stores: I’ve discovered that local health food stores can sometimes stock Einkorn products, especially if they have a strong focus on organic or ancient grains. It might be worthwhile to ask the store staff if they have any Einkorn products or if they can place a special order for you.
Farmers’ markets: Another great place where I’ve spotted Einkorn is at farmers’ markets, although I haven’t seen it here in Texas. It’s common for small-scale farmers or artisanal bakers to experiment with ancient grains like Einkorn. So, next time you’re at your local farmers’ market, keep your eyes open for some Einkorn treats!
Specialty stores: Lastly, you may come across Einkorn at specialty stores that have a specific focus on ancient grains or whole foods. In my experience, these stores are more likely to have Einkorn products on their shelves compared to regular supermarkets.
Remember, Einkorn might be more expensive than other grains due to its niche market and the fact that it’s not as widely cultivated.
Home milling versus pre-milled flour
When it comes to Einkorn flour, I’ve found there are two main options: milling the grains at home or purchasing pre-milled flour. Both options have their advantages and some challenges, so let me share my experience with you.
With home milling, I enjoy the freshness of the flour and the ability to control the fineness of the grind. Using a good quality grain mill I can easily achieve the texture I desire for different types of recipes. Home milling also allows me to enjoy the full nutritional benefits of the grain, as it retains more nutrients than pre-milled flour. Additionally, I can choose to create all-purpose Einkorn flour by sifting out some of the bran, or use the whole grain flour as it comes out of the mill.
However, home milling does come with a few challenges. First, there’s an initial investment in purchasing a grain mill. Secondly, it may take some trial and error to find the perfect grind setting for different baking needs. Lastly, there’s a bit of a learning curve if you’re new to milling your own grains, especially when it comes to understanding how Einkorn flour behaves differently than other flours.
On the other hand, pre-milled Einkorn flour is convenient, consistent, and readily available. I can simply pick it up at a store or order it online without the need for extra equipment or learning new skills. This convenience does come at a cost, though – pre-milled flour is usually more expensive than whole grains, and there’s a possibility that the flour may not be as fresh or nutritionally dense compared to the flour I mill at home.
Storing Einkorn berries and flour
I find it extremely important to store einkorn properly to preserve its freshness and quality. Whether it’s Einkorn whole grain or flour, I always store it in airtight containers. Investing in good-quality containers has been a game-changer for me, as they maintain a cool environment within, preventing spoilage caused by heat or humidity.
It also prevents pests, like pantry moths, from ruining your stash. (I lived through this and it was horrible how quickly they ruined my grains!)
To enhance the shelf life further, I recommend keeping the containers in a cool, dark place, like a pantry or a kitchen cabinet. This simple step helps retain Einkorn’s nutritional value and delicious flavor, ensuring that it remains fresh for an extended period of time.
If you’re working with larger quantities of Einkorn or are looking for long-term storage options, I found that vacuum-sealing the grains or flour and placing them in the freezer can do wonders. Doing this has helped me conveniently store Einkorn for several months without compromising on the quality or taste.
Learn more about storing flour here, storing whole grains here, and my working pantry system of rotating flour and grain.
Frequently asked questions
How does Einkorn flour compare to regular flour?
When it comes to baking, I’ve noticed a few differences between Einkorn flour and regular flour. Einkorn is considered to be the oldest wheat variety and is higher in nutritions, lower gluten content, and richer flavor compared to all-purpose flour. Due to its lower gluten content, working with Einkorn may require some modifications to traditional recipes as it’s stickier and it won’t rise as high. You will think you need to add more flour but don’t! It will stay sticky.
Where can I purchase Einkorn flour?
I’ve found that Einkorn flour is becoming increasingly more accessible. Many health food stores and well-stocked supermarkets carry this ancient grain. If you’re unable to find it locally, there are various online retailers, such as Pleasant Hill Grains and Jovial offering Einkorn flour for purchase. I even found it at H-E-B, my local Texas-based grocery store.
Is Einkorn anti-inflammatory?
Einkorn has been praised for its potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties. Given that it contains a different type of gluten compared to modern wheat, some people with gluten sensitivities may find that they tolerate einkorn better. However, it is important to note that Einkorn is still a form of wheat and not suitable for those with celiac disease.
How does Einkorn affect blood sugar levels?
Einkorn – compared to modern wheat – has a lower glycemic index, which helps in reducing post-meal spikes in blood sugar levels. This attribute makes it a healthier alternative for those who are monitoring their blood sugar or following a low-glycemic diet.
Why is Einkorn considered an ancient grain?
Einkorn is considered an ancient grain because it has remained unaltered by modern wheat breeding practices. It’s the oldest variety of wheat, dating back over 10,000 years. Due to its unaltered genetic makeup, einkorn retains more of its original nutritional benefits and unique flavors. This is why Einkorn is often referred to as the “only true ancient grain.”