We've been baking with spelt flour since we opened. We love it for its flavour, but we now have many customers who come specifically for our spelt breads. Wheat intolerance appears to be increasing - or perhaps it is an intolerance to highly developed strains of wheat, or the way in which most bread is produced - and demand for our spelt bread has taken off. We now produce a range of spelt loaves: spelt sourdoughs using spelt leaven, spelt & rye sourdoughs, and spelt rolls to order.
THE HISTORY OF SPELT
Native to Iran and southeastern Europe, spelt is one of the world's most popular grains with a heritage thought to extend back 7,000 years. Spelt was one of the first grains to be used to make bread, and its use is mentioned in the Bible. Spelt played an important role in ancient civilizations, such as Greece and Rome, serving as a staple grain. Spelt was so well regarded that it even took on symbolic importance as it was used as a gift to the pagan gods of agriculture to encourage harvest and fertility.
Throughout early European history, as populations migrated throughout the continent, they brought this hearty and nutritious grain with them to their new lands. Spelt became a popular grain, especially in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. During the Middle Ages, spelt earned another level of recognition with the famous healer Hildegard von Bingen using spelt as a panacea for many illnesses.
Spelt was cultivated on a moderate level until the beginning of the 20th century when farmers turned their efforts to the cultivation of wheat. While there may have been many reasons for this agricultural shift, one is that spelt's nutrient-rich tough husk makes it harder to process than wheat. Yet, recently this ancient grain has been receiving renewed interest, and its popularity and appreciation are beginning to escalate.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPELT
The key difference between spelt and wheat is the molecular structure of the protein in the gluten which is shorter and more brittle and therefore easier for the body to break down and digest. Many of spelt’s benefits come from the fact that it offers a broader spectrum of nutrients compared to many of its more inbred cousins in the Triticum (wheat) family. Spelt features a host of different nutrients. It is an excellent source of manganese, and a good source of protein, copper, and zinc.
The combination of high fibre and low, fragile gluten content in spelt make this grain much easier to digest than modern, common wheat. That’s great news for anyone suffering from digestive issues, including irritable bowel syndrome. Fibre supplied by whole grains also helps to reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels and has been shown to protect pre-menopausal women from breast cancer.
The risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity is linked in many people to insulin resistance. Spelt has a lower glycemic index than modern, processed wheat. Spelt is also high in fibre, Vitamin E and magnesium, which plays an integral role in the enzymes used in the secretion of glucose it helps to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This particular combination – lower glycemic index, high fibre, Vitamin E and magnesium – make spelt a health choice for anyone with insulin-resistance related diseases. Spelt is also high in niacin, which is contributes to the prevention of cardiovascular disease.