Ancient wheat for modern times

History

EINKORN WHEAT – The Heirloom Grain

 

The beginning of farming, the domestication of plants previously gathered in wild, began to emerge about 12 500 years ago during the Neolithic Age.

According to archaeological data, the varieties of floury grains  were grown in the Fertile Crescent – a region in the Middle East.

Through genetic analysis, it was shown that Einkorn (species name Triticummonococcum ) is the first grain domesticated from wild forms of grass somewhere around 10 000 – 9 000 years ago.

Proof for this domestication comes from finding these seeds at archaeological sites in different places of the Egyptian pyramids, in antique Troy, as well as in ancient Thracians’ tombs in Bulgaria.

It then spread to Central and Mediterranean Europe, North-Africa, and finally to Western and Northern Europe.

Einkorn was part of the diet of Copper Age man, a fact proved by colon content analysis of the 5,300-year-old Otzi the Iceman mummy found in the Alps in 1991.

 

Einkorn played an important role in thedevelopment of agriculture and was cultivated for several centuries. Around 2000 BC Einkorn crops began to decline due to low yield and the need for threshing infavor of high-yield free threshing wheats species.As a result, the unique flavour of Einkorn disappeared almost completely and could only be found in remote sub and mountainous areas.

 

Einkorn cultivation today

Thanks to its adaptation to harsh climates Einkorn survived and nowadays itis grown on a limited surface in the Balkan Peninsula, Central and South-West Europe.

 

In Bulgaria, it was grown sporadically and was used for animal feed until the 60’s.

In recent years the strong interest in the nutritional qualities of food, led to rediscovery of this Relict crop.In Bulgaria, Einkorn production increases every year by ecological and organic orientated farmers.

 

Einkorn Uniqueness

Einkorn has the simplest genetic structure of any wheat species. It is diploid (AA, two complete sets of seven chromosomes, one from each parents, 2n = 14).This structure of its genome remained unchanged for millennia.

Einkorn is the only of the ancient wheat grains that has never been hybridized. The grain is self-pollinated – which ensures its purity and gives many nutritional advantages.

  • Einkorn has a thin, tight stem, high above the meter. As it name shows it has only one kernel per spike. The kernels are hidden in a tightly fitting husk, which protects the grain from chemical and environmental contamination and insects.
  • As a hulled grain Einkorn is resilient to diseases (rusts, powdery mildew,fungal).
  • Do not need fertilizing, weed control and pests that represent advantages for organic farming.

Even planted in contaminated soil it does not absorb harmful substances from the soil (eg heavy metals).

 

The name “Einkorn” comes from German and it means “one grain”.

It has been cultivated for centuries in the Middle-East, Central Asia, Europe and North-Africa, and is known under different names:

 

Language Different  names of Triticummonococcum
Albanian tepe¨
Bulgarian Limets
Croatian jednozrnac
Czech psenicejednozrnka
Danish enkorn
English einkorn, small spelt
French petit épeautre
German Einkorn, kleinerSpelz
Greek tiphe
Hebrew shipon
Hungarian alakor
Italian farro piccolo,monococco
Moroccan skaliah
Polish pszenicasamopsza
Portuguese espelta
Romanian alac
Russian odnozernjanka
Serbian krupnik
Slovak psenicajednozrnna
Spanish escan˜amenor, esprilla, carrao´n
Swedish enkornsvete
Turkish kalpica

 

 

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