Wheat is mass-produced on a scale that most homesteaders can even fathom. But, these modern forms of wheat aren’t what humanity has been enjoying for the majority of its history. Ancient grains, like Einkorn wheat, are more homestead friendly and offer benefits beyond regular wheat products you’d buy at the grocery store. This guide will show you how to grow Einkorn wheat, harvest it, and use it!
What You'll Learn Today
- What Is Einkorn Wheat?
- How To Grow And Harvest Einkorn Wheat
- How To Use Einkorn Wheat Berries
- How To Store Einkorn Wheat Berries
- Give Einkorn A Try
What Is Einkorn Wheat?
Einkorn is a species of wheat that differs from modern wheat used to create the majority of the wheat-based products in stores today. It is one of the earliest forms of grain than humanity is known to have consumed and its use stretches back 10,000 years.
So, is einkorn an ancient grain? You can argue that it’s the most ancient. It may be the first cultivated grain for humankind!
Unlike modern wheat, it is a low-yielding crop. However, it can also thrive in poor soil and low moisture conditions where modern hybrid wheat would suffer.
It also contains a hull that protects the wheat berries. This can make processing more tedious but it does help reduce the risk of mycotoxin growth on the wheat berries.
How To Grow And Harvest Einkorn Wheat
To plant einkorn, prepare your soil with a light raking. It does best when planted roughly an inch apart with rows that are 6 inches apart. Sowing at ½ inch depth is optimal. Einkorn can be sowed in Fall for a Spring harvest or in the Spring for a Fall/Winter harvest.
Einkorn wheat differs from modern wheat hybrids. It thrives in soil that isn’t overly rich in nutrients and doesn’t receive too much rain or irrigation. Grow until maturity, which is around 100-140 days, depending on its growing conditions and climate.
Harvesting should begin when the plants turn a golden brown and the seed heads are fully mature. An old trick is to grab one of the wheat berries from the stalk and bite it. If it is hard, it’s ready for harvest.
You can harvest your einkorn by snapping off the seed heads by hand or using a hand tool like a scythe or sickle.
The average einkorn yield per acre is somewhere around 1,700 lbs. But, this is the in-hull weight. Unlike modern wheat, einkorn is covered in a hull that accounts for up to 40% of the harvest weight.
Once the grain has been harvested from the plant, you have to start separating the wheat berries from the plant. Learning how to thresh einkorn wheat is pretty simple. Threshing can be done by hand alone or with the help of a bucket.
If you are only using your hands simply pull off all the wheat berries from the stalk.
If you are using a bucket, slam the wheat against the sides of the bucket so the brain falls to the bottom of the bucket.
Since einkorn contains a hull, separating the wheat berries is much tougher than modern wheat. But this hull also protects the wheat berries from mycotoxins that plague modern grains! Unfortunately, many homesteaders don’t know how to dehull einkorn wheat.
To dehull your wheat, you need to smash your wheat berries to break them free from the hulls. A rolling pin and a hard surface should suffice. Covering your wheat berries while you do this will Ensure no go flying out when you roll them.
Once you have your wheat berries dehulled, you are left with wheat berries and husk residue. So the next process is Winnowing the wheat. Use a fan or a windy day to help you out with this process.
With a fan blowing across the top of the bucket, grab handfuls of the wheat berries and hull water and drop it.into the bucket. The lighter hulls and plant materials will drift away in the wind while the wheat berries fall into the bucket.
How To Use Einkorn Wheat Berries
Einkorn can be milled into einkorn flour and used for baked goods. Because of its lower gluten content and inability to absorb as much water as modern wheat, it’s not a great candidate for yeast-based bread that require a lot of rising.
You can mill it with a milling machine, blender, food processor, or coffee bean grinder. The milling machine will produce the most consistent flour since it’s made for this job.
So, what is einkorn wheat used for? You can use it for any other recipe that uses flour that doesn’t require a lot of rise. Pancakes, waffles, cookies, and pie crusts all work great with einkorn flour.
It’s known for a richer taste and texture, you trying it in your favorite recipes may improve them! Any recipe that could use a more toasted, nutty flavor will benefit from the inclusion of einkorn flour.
How To Store Einkorn Wheat Berries
Einkorn is just like any other wheat in that wheat berries will store better than milled flour.
How long do einkorn berries last if kept in optimal conditions? You can keep einkorn wheat berries at room temperature in an airtight container for about 2 months.
If you need to store your wheat berries longer, it’s best to put them in the freezer, where they can last 6 months or longer. Again, make sure that the container is airtight to ensure no moisture enters and spoils the wheat berries.
If you haven’t already removed the hulls, you can store them in tact to reduce the risk of mycotoxins that carry many health concerns if consumed.
Is Einkorn A Winter Wheat?
Einkorn can be a Winter or Spring crop in the right climates.
Where Does Einkorn Grow?
Einkorn was grown in colder climates while another ancient grain Emmer was growing in warmer climates throughout its use in early agriculture. Now it can be grown as a Spring or Winter wheat in almost any climate as long as there isn’t too much rainfall. It prefers soil that isn’t overly fertile and can handle frost as well.
Is Einkorn Wheat Better For You?
It’s not inherently better for you. However, it does seem to be a better choice for those with gluten sensitivities than regular wheat. Keep in mind that einkorn wheat does still have gluten, just less. It does have higher protein and antioxidant content and less risk for mycotoxins than modern wheat.
Is Einkorn Anti Inflammatory?
Some research shows anti-inflammatory effects with Einkorn consumption, but the magnitude isn’t well known. There are much better foods to grow for anti-inflammatory effects on the homestead.
Is Einkorn Easy To Digest?
It’s lower in gluten, which is typically a harder compound for many people to digest, even if they aren’t sensitive to it.
Can You Substitute Einkorn Flour For All-Purpose Flour?
It doesn’t rise as well in bread but for other recipes that don’t require a bread-like rise, it is a perfect substitute. Use it in a 1:1 ratio. Make note that you may need to reduce the water/liquid in the recipe due to einkorn not being able to absorb as much water.
Is Einkorn Wheat Safe For Celiacs?
It’s not necessarily safe as it does contain gluten. However, research has shown that it does produce more desirable results than consuming commercial wheat. Still, it’s best to avoid all gluten-containing grains.
How Long Does Einkorn Flour Last?
Freshly milled Einkorn flour will last around 1-2 months in a non-humid environment that’s also cool. A refrigerator is too humid generally but long term storage in a freezer is applicable.
Give Einkorn A Try
Einkorn wheat can grow in terrible conditions where hybrid wheat won’t survive. This low maintenance crop is a good addition to any homestead. Preserving history by growing heirloom vegetables and ancient grains is a job for us homesteaders!