Bluebird Grain Farms

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Q: A friend and I split a 25-pound order of Whole Grain Emmer Farro that we purchased from you. I have some recipes that call for “Farro” and others that call for “semi-pearled Farro.” Is there a difference in the amount of cooking time needed? Or is it just that semi-pearled Farro doesn’t need pre-soaking? A search on the web hasn’t answered my questions.

A: There is a difference. Our Emmer is whole grain, which means it contains the germ and bran – it is a living seed! We go through a lengthy process in cleaning and de-hulling Emmer to keep its integrity (the nutrition). Whole Grain Emmer Farro does require about a 60 minute cook time, as opposed to pearled farro which has about a 20 minute cook time. The upside to whole grain farro is that it has amazing storability, which is why food service loves this grain. It will stay plump and chewy for days after it has been cooked which allows you to use it hot or cold, etc… It has such a wonderful nutritional profile we feel “Why lose all the goodies?” A lot of Italian grain is pearled, which shaves off the germ and the bran (nutrient pack). This allows for a decreased cooking time. Unfortunately, this process allows the grain to go rancid because its tissues are exposed to the air. It also gets mushy and does not allow the grain to store once it has been cooked.

Q: I participate in an online cooking discussion group and one of the members mentioned your Farro. I have been looking for a good source for this grain and have noticed that there is much confusion over Farro and Spelt. Can you tell me whether the botanical name of the seed you use is Triticum dicoccum or Triticum spelta?

A: Our Emmer Farro is Triticum dicoccum. Italians refer to Emmer Wheat as “the original farro”. Spelt and Einkorn are also considered a type of farro. Farro is an Italian term for “ancient hulled wheat”.

Emmer is an older variety of wheat (dating back about 17,000 years) than spelt (dating back about 7,000 years).  Most spelt varieties have been hybridized for bread baking qualities, emmer is sold primarily as a whole grain.

Q: I would like to make pasta with Farro flour. What flour do you recommend?

A: Our whole grain Emmer flour makes great pasta!

Q: Where did you get your emmer species? What country did it come from?

A:  Our Emmer seed (Triticum dicoccum) originally came from Rwanda, out of the World Seed Bank over 30 years ago.   It is still grown in parts of Africa, Northern Italy, Turkey, and Germany for its high protein, fiber, and trace Minerals.

Q:  What is Emmer?

A:  Emmer (triticum dicoccum) is an ancient Wheat commonly known as “Farro” in Europe.  It is a simple grain of 28 Chromosomes, dating back approximately 17,000 years to the beginning of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent Region of Mesopotamia.  It pre-dates Spelt.

Q:  What is Farro? 

A:  Farro is an Italian term for ancient hulled grain or “husked” grain. Farro  can refers to three ancient wheat varieties, Emmer, Einkorn and Spelt. These ancient wheats, have a tight outer layer called a husk, that must be removed before consumption. The husk is a protective, straw like, layer that adheres tightly to the kernel.  The husk must be removed before it can be consumed by humans.  Most modern wheat has been hybridized for industrialized agricultural so that it is  harvest-ready, the hull is thin and papery, and easy to remove. Little or no threshing is required.

Q:  Is Emmer Flour appropriate for baking?

A:  Yes! Emmer Flour reveals a sweet nutty flavor- especially when it is freshly milled.  Emmer is in the durum wheat line.  Because Bluebird Emmer flour is a “whole grain flour” it is similar to baking with a whole wheat flour.  It is milled fine and can be used in replace of “whole wheat flour”.  Emmer Flour makes fabulous wide noodle pastas ( a tradition in Northern regions of Italy), dense breads, cookies, muffins, and crusts.