LENTZ SPELT FARRO
LENTZ RESURGENT GRAINS focused on Spelt Farro at the beginning of our enterprise. Then as now, Spelt’s the best-known alternative cereal in America.
Spelt, Triticum Spelta, is a hexaploid with 42 chromosomes. A cross of Emmer and an Aegilops species known as goatgrass, an agricultural weed, Spelt possibly occurred in more than one location, as did the later bread wheat which has the same parentage albeit from a different gene pool. No wild form of a hexaploid Triticum has ever been found, so Spelt was perhaps farmer-selected for propagation. The Black Sea region is one definite point of Spelt origin, 6000 B.C. the earliest find.
In time the Romans grew Spelt, and with the expansion of their empire, Spelt spread north as far as Britain. But it was German-speaking peoples who made it their Korn, their most important bread grain – until the late 1800s, Spelt production outranked that of wheat by a factor of 17 in southern Germany. Numerous German terms exist for Spelt, including Dinkel, Spelz, Schwabenkorn.
The adored healer and saint, Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179), put spelt on a pedestal: Spelt is the best grain, warming, lubricating and of high nutritional value. It is better tolerated by the body than any other grain. Spelt provides its consumer with good flesh and good blood and confers a cheerful disposition. It provides a happy mind and joyful spirit. No matter how you eat spelt, either as a bread or in other foods, it is good and easy to digest.
The resurgence of Spelt in 1970s Germany – after industrialization had disappeared it – connected to a revival of interest in St Hildegard’s teachings. On the scientific side, Dr Kling assessed over 1000 Spelt accessions at the university in Hohenheim. One primary trait he looked for was good flour and baking quality. Kling passed germplasm of the best performing Spelts on to the Ohio scientist who, after several more years of research, released the American Spelts that bake such good bread. As protection against overproduction, these top Spelts are private varieties. Every year we grow our Spelt seed from Foundation Seed to maintain consistent functionality for the bakers. Also important is that our Spelts are pure-line, that is, they’re 100 percent Spelt, not spelt-wheat crosses.
The American Spelt rebound in the 1980s promoted the grain as the best choice for folks with wheat allergies (but it’s not for celiacs). Today that market facet remains, although the higher percentage of Spelt Farro is in demand for its great taste – it was written up as The Fine Wine of Flours –, and for its general health benefits superior to those of wheat. Curiously, Canadian scientists today ascribe psychological benefits to Spelt, just as St Hildegard did over 800 years ago.
Spelt gluten is different than wheat gluten, it’s much more delicate. This needs to be taken into account when baking with Spelt flour: In general, a wheat bread formula converts to Spelt bread recipe by reducing the water by 25 percent, and mixing the dough more gently than wheat, while taking care not to over-mix.
Some of the best European-style artisan breads in the Pacific Northwest are of Lentz Spelt Farro.
> Sources: USDA-ARS; Montana State University; Universität Hohenheim; Spelt Healthy by Marsha Cosentino; Specialty Grains for Food and Feed, ed. Elsayed Abdel-Aal & Peter Woods <
A new crop of Spelt Farro gets seeded
on the Columbia Plateau; in the
foreground the stubble after harvest
Our Spelt Farro is a winter grain that
stands about 10 inches when winter comes
Spelt Farro grows fast after the winter
Spelt Farro ripe for harvest in July