An ancient form of wheat, spelt is a hybrid of emmer wheat and goat grass. Due to its high carbohydrate content, the Romans called it the ‘marching grain’. It has a thick outer husk that helps to protect it from disease and pests, making it easier for farmers to grow without the need for fertilisers or pesticides. Compared to similar types of wheat, it contains more fibre, as well as higher concentrations of minerals, including magnesium, iron and zinc.
Spelt is often one of the components of farro, which is a mix of various types of wheat and is becoming more popular in some parts of Europe and North America. Whole or pearled, spelt should be boiled until tender. The mellow, nutty flavour makes it popular to use in place of rice in pilaf, risotto and side dishes. In Germany and Austria, using spelt flour to make breads and cakes is common and often preferred over other types of wheat.