Einkorn: the mother of all wheat. Einkorn here is where there will be a very long description of the characteristics of Einkorn and how it grows and how it behaves in bread and baked goods. For example einkorn takes a bit longer to absorb moisture and then when it fully absorbs, the dough will be a bit unstructured and floppy. A little harder to manage in bread. Pie crusts are softer. Cookies will spread more than a hard wheat. But the dates is nutty and buttery and more than makes up for the time it takes to get used to working with einkorn in your favorite recipes.
Emmer is an ancient hulled wheat originally from the Fertile Crescent. It is high in antioxidants and protein. It is drought tolerant and prefers a dry climate with a short, hot summer. It is used for grain salads and stews (Farro) as well as baking, especially flat breads and pasta.
Khorasan or Kamut most likely originated in the Middle East (Mesopotamia/modern day Iran) and so is well suited for hot, dry climates. It is very tall with large seed heads and huge golden kernels. It is high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and it may be more digestible than modern wheat. It has a buttery, nutty flavor and a golden color. The elasticity of Khorasan lends itself nicely to pasta making as well as general baking.
RED FIFE originated in the Ukraine and was brought to Canada by David Fife in 1840. It is a hard winter wheat with plump reddish kernels and rich wheat flavor. It is excellent for bread making as well as all around baking. Red Fife and Turkey Red wheats are included in the Slow Food Ark of Taste.
SONORAN WHITE WHEAT originated in the Fertile Crescent and was introduced to the American Southwest by the Spanish missionaries for use in Christian ritual. It is one of the first varieties of wheat cultivated in North America and it is drought and disease resistant and particularly adapted to the desert Southwest region. It was widely planted commercially in California prior to modern wheat. It is a soft white winter or spring wheat low in protein and gluten with a nutty and buttery flavor. It is very extensible (stretchy) and makes a great pastry flour and excellent tortillas.
Spelt. Hulled; adds structure to softer flours. is a cross between Emmer and goat grass. It is very high in protein (13-14%) but low in gluten. Spelt tends to be hardier and taller than wheat but shorter than rye. It needs less nitrogen than wheat and does well following corn in rotation. It requires vernalization to form seed heads as rye does and is fall planted.
Swiss Mountain Rye performed spectacularly in RGG’s fall 2019 seed increase. Rye is widely used in Eastern European and Nordic baking and is known for its rich flavor and sweetness, which is developed by fermentation such as in sourdough. It has high enzymatic activity and so ferments vigorously and is often a component of sourdough starters. Its gluten is weak and not elastic and so it is often mixed with stronger wheat flours for breads.
TIBETAN PURPLE hull-less with big, showy, 6-row seed heads with weak hollow stems; iridescent violet ears, highly flavored, rare. Sprouted, it adds color and flavor to breads.
TURKEY RED WHEAT is a hard, red winter wheat that migrated with the Mennonites from Crimea to the great plains of the US in the late 19th century. It was the dominant commercial wheat crop in Kansas through the 1940’s. It has a robust wheat-y flavor and excellent gluten structure and starch quality for bread making.
Photos courtesy Alessandra Haines.
Learn more about wheats, ryes, barleys, and pseudo grains here.