Einkorn (triticum monococcum) is one of the oldest cereal grains to be cultivated by man for human consumption. Together with other ancient wheat types, Emmer and Spelt, these were once one of the most popular types of wheat grown in the UK.
The Einkorn crop grows tall in the field, with an unusual, short, flat, two-row seed head which encloses small wheat like grains encased in inedible husk. Einkorn thrives in poor soil and in adverse weather conditions, typically found in Britain.
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum) is the oldest cereal grain to be grown for human consumption. It was domesticated in the Near East in c. 9,500 BC, and spread to Britain in the Neolithic period c. 4,500 BC. Charred and waterlogged grains of einkorn have been found on early archaeological sites throughout the British Isles. It was replaced by the much larger grained emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum) in the Bronze Age, and survived as a relict crop in some areas of continental Europe because of its ability to grow on poor soils and in upland areas unsuitable for other crops.
In the UK, einkorn was grown only for research purposes, and as a botanical curiosity, until it was rediscovered as a health food in the early 2000s. European plant breeders have recently developed modern, higher yielding, and genetically pure varieties that are more suitable for commercial production.
Like all ancient and heritage wheats, einkorn will grow tall and fall over (lodge) if grown in rich soils. It produces a flat, two rowed, grass-like seed head carrying small wheat grains encased in inedible husks which must be removed prior to milling or cooking.
Einkorn can be eaten as a grain, porridge or milled into a rich, golden flour which is soft in texture and has a distinctive nutty flavour ideal for baking artisan-style breads, cakes and scones. Einkorn flour rich in caretenoids and minerals, and because it does not contain the problematic gluten which occurs in emmer, spelt and all other modern wheats, it can be eaten by most people with gluten intolerance and coealiac disease, particularly when baked using a sourdough process.