Spelt, the Almost Forgotten Grain
Spelt, also known as dinkel wheat or hulled wheat has been around since the 5th millennium BCE. The official name is Triticum aestivum var. spelta and is thought to be an ancient hybrid of emmer and Aegilops Tauschi. It was originally found in the area northeast of the Black Sea. It then spread throughout Europe. It was a staple of the European diet up through the late 1800s but dwindled in popularity with bread wheat. It is even mentioned in the Bible, although some scholars think it’s a mistranslation. It was then mainly used to feed livestock. It is now regaining popularity as an alternative to wheat. Many people with wheat sensitivities can still eat spelt, although not recommended for those with celiac disease.
Spelt has a deep, nutty flavor and can be used similarly to wheat, whole or ground into flour. It is used in anything from breads to pasta to beer. When storing as flour, it should be kept in the refrigerator to keep nutritional value. When stored as a whole grain, it should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dry place. It should always be rinsed before cooking and then soaked for eight hours, or overnight. Many health food stores now carry spelt bread along with their wheat breads.
Spelt is a good source of manganese. It also contains calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc and iron, along with vitamins E and B (especially niacin). One cup of spelt contains about 246 calories, 11 grams of protein, 1.6 grams of fat, 51 grams of carbohydrates, and 7.6 grams of fiber.