Table of content A-Z

 

wheat

 

Botanical name: Triticum aestivum


Weizen

 

Origin, areas of cultivation


Wheat originated in the Near East. Primitive forms of today's wheat are einkorn and emmer. Over time, different types of wheat have been developed, such as soft wheat, durum wheat, and spelt.

Soft wheat is grown worldwide and prefers loamy soil and a temperate climate. Durum wheat requires a warm, dry climate and is cultivated mainly in the Near East, the Mediterranean region, Canada and the USA.


Availability


We differentiate between summer and winter wheat. Summer wheat is sown in the spring, winter wheat in autumn. Due to its longer growth period, winter wheat generally has higher yields. Like the other varieties of grain, wheat is available throughout the year.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


An ear of wheat actually has 20–32 ears, each with two to five kernels. The kernel itself is beige to reddish-brown, oval, and has a relatively mild taste.

Wheat is the most important bread grain throughout the world and is characterized by its high yields and its good baking quality. Over the centuries it has been hybridized again and again and further bred. The primitive forms of wheat are listed below and explained:

*Spelt

Botanical name: Triticum aestiven ssp. spelta



Until the beginning of the 19th century, spelt was the main type of grain in the middle and northern European area. Thereafter, its cultivation decreased more and more; only in southern Germany did a few isolated farmers continue to plant spelt, and it is thus also known as Swabian grain.

Meanwhile, spelt has experienced a renaissance and is becoming more and more popular. It is known for its hardiness in comparison to wheat. It grows well in poor soil and is not so demanding in terms of storage. The kernel is surrounded by a glume, or husk, which protects it from dampness and mould.

The content of protein and gluten are higher compared with wheat, but the quality of the gluten is lower. Nevertheless, spelt is excellently suited for baking.

The kernel itself is, like the wheat kernel, gold-brown and oblong. Its flavour is slightly nutty and ideal for both hearty and sweet baked goods. A special form of spelt is unripe spelt grain.

*Emmer

Botanical name: Triticum dicoccum

Wild emmer developed from breeding various types of wild wheat and is the primitive form of cultivated emmer. Emmer arrived in Middle Europe via Egypt, Italy and Spain. It used to be grown in Thuringia and southern Germany, but cultivation is declining and occurs today predominantly in Spain and in the area that used to be Yugoslavia.

The kernel is slightly flinty, pointing to a high protein content. Emmer does in fact contain large amounts of gluten, but of only moderate quality. The flour is like semolina and wonderfully suited for making eggless pasta.

*Einkorn

Botanical name: Triticum monococcum

Along with emmer and barley, einkorn is one of the oldest economic plants known to man, having been cultivated as early as in the 7th century b.c. Einkorn is very undemanding with regard to weather and soil conditions and resistant to diseases. However, it has been supplanted by spelt and wheat over time, because they have higher yields.

In comparison to other varieties of grain, the ear stalk has only one kernel, giving the plant its name (einkorn = one kernel). In addition, the kernel is smaller. It has a nutty and somewhat stronger flavour than wheat.

Concerning the combination of nutrients, einkorn does not appear to be inferior to wheat. On the contrary, its content of some minerals and protein is even higher. Particularly the essential amino acids lysine, methionine, phenylalanine and isoleucine are present in large amounts. The high carotene content is also characteristic of einkorn.

*Unripe spelt grain



This is a form of spelt, harvested 2–3 weeks prior to maturity, when it is still green. The kernels are subsequently kiln-dried for several hours over a beech-wood fire.

Unripe spelt grain probably exists only because, hundreds of years ago, farmers made a virtue of necessity. Following wet, stormy summers, the spelt bent over and threatened to rot on the field. The farmers had to harvest the ears with the unripe kernels. These being soft and useless, they were dried over fires. While the farmers found that the flour was not suitable for baking, they also found that it tasted fine when made into dumplings for soups.

*Kamut

Botanical name: Triticum turgidum polonicum



Kamut is an ancient variety of wheat that was grown by the Egyptians approximately 6000 years ago. Legend has it that in 1948, a US air-force officer found some Kamut seeds in a pharaoh's grave and sent them to his father, a farmer. He managed to get some of the seeds to germinate, but he did not follow through with the cultivation. In 1977 he is said to have found a jar with the seeds again and renewed his attempts to grow them. In 1990 the grain was recognized as a new cultivar with the official name QK-77. At this point the farmer patented the grain with the trade name Kamut, which is Egyptian for "soul of the earth".

The kernel is about twice as large as a wheat kernel and contains 20–40% more protein and minerals. It also has large amounts of selenium. Kamut is not gluten-free, and therefore not suitable for persons with coeliac disease. Like spelt, however, it is supposed to be well-tolerated by those with an allergy to wheat.

The flavour of Kamut is more intensive than that of wheat and slightly buttery. Kamut can be used to bake breads and other pastries, as couscous or groats, and to make pasta.


Ingredients


Wheat has a high proportion of gluten, which is the reason for its good baking quality. Moreover, it contains large amounts of magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and the B-vitamins B1, B6, niacin and folic acid. Wheat flour, however, supplies only very tiny amounts of these nutrients.

100 g contain:


 

Wheat, whole kernel
Wheat flour, type 405
Whole-grain wheat flour, type 1700
Unripe spelt grain, whole kernel
Energy (kcal)
313
33
309
325
Water (g)
13
14
15
13
Protein (g)
12
10
11
11
Fat (g)
2
1
2.4
2.7
Carbohydrates (g)
61
71
60
63
Fibre (g)
10
4
10
8.8
Vitamin B1 (mg)
0.5
0.1
0.5
0.3
Vitamin B6 (mg)
0.4
0.2
0.5
0.3
Folic acid (µg)
49
10
50
50
Niacin (NE) (mg)
7.1
2.3
7.1
3.3
Potassium (mg)
381
108
337
447
Magnesium (mg)
128
20
124
130
Iron (mg)
3.3
1.5
3.4
4.2
Zinc (mg)
2.7
1.0
3.4
35
Phosphorus (mg)
341
74
345
411
Copper (mg)
0.5
0.5
0.6
0.3
Manganese (mg)
3.7
0.5
3.1
3.0



Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation


In addition to the production of bread, wheat is used as the basis for mueslis and breakfast cereals. It is also available in many processed forms such as flakes, semolina, or bulgur, and can be used to make puddings and sweet dishes, as well as hearty casseroles. Try a delicious one made of wheat and feta cheese.

Further, wheat is used for the production foodstuffs, of starch, malt and wheat germ oil, and to make alcoholic drinks.

In its raw form, wheat tastes excellent as a muesli made of fresh kernels. Soak freshly rough-ground wheat in water overnight. Mixed with yogurt and fruits the next morning, it is a tasty and healthy breakfast.

 

 

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