Lately we’ve been experimenting with einkorn sourdough and I am loving the results. This beautiful ancient wheat was cultivated 10,000 years ago. It’s the unaltered original wheat. Society has a way of trying to improve nature product, not with flavor and nutrients, but with the ability to mass produce with it. And with mass production comes lower nutrients. With bread, people thought they wanted more gluten, so they selected for that as well. What you get with modern wheat is a lot of gluten and not a lot of nutrients when compared to the original wheat, einkorn.
My father in law is French, and like most French people, he loves a good loaf of bread. We shared a couple slices of einkorn sourdough bread with him the other day and he was very impressed with the texture and flavor.
What is Einkorn?
Einkorn wheat is considered the original wheat. It’s been reported that it cultivated 10,000 years ago. Modern wheat is derived from einkhorn, but interbred with different kinds of grass. People wanted a wheat that had more gluten and was easier to mass produce. Einkhorn is more like other plants in that it only has 2 sets of chromosomes. Spelt and modern wheat have 6 chromosomes.
Einkorn has less gluten and a different kind of gluten. It does not contain the D genome, only the A genome. So einkorn has AA, whereas modern what has AABBDD. In many studies, the D genome is the most toxic. Also even worse, when AABBDD combine, the D genome is more prevalent. All gluten may be toxic to some people, especially those who have celiac disease, but its likely less toxic than modern wheat. In short, less chromosomes generally mean less gluten and that means its easier to digest.
The best part is that using a sourdough starter greatly lowers the amount of gluten even further. Basically, the bacteria and yeast break down the gluten before digestion in a process called hydrolysis. The longer it ferments, the less gluten there will be when you eventually eat it.
Due to the ancient nature of the wheat, it processing results in less of a nutrient loss. Einkorn contains higher levels of protein, essential fatty acids, potassium, phosphorous, , B6, and very high levels of carotenoids.
Einkorn has some powerful antioxidants which is much higher than modern wheat. It has 3-4 times the amount of beta-carotein which helps fight against cancer. Has 35 times more vitamin A which is in important nutrient for many vital organs and also for immunity. Has more than 3-5 times the amount of riboflavin which is helps create energy and is another powerful antioxidant.
Making sourdough out of einkorn helps make those nutrients even more bio-available. The process of sourdough fermentation has also been shown to release more antioxidants.
Taste and texture
Sourdough made from einkorn flour is quite delicious. It feels a little denser and more nutrient packed, but still light and fluffy enough to feel like a good loaf of bread. It has that good balance between feeling hardy yet tasty at the same time. It may be because it has more protein and less starch. It’s not super stretchy and doesn't rise like modern wheat, but enough to keep everything satisfyingly in place.
We tried a regular loaf the other day and it felt like it was missing something. For now, when we make bread from wheat, we are sticking with einkorn.
Have you tried sourdough made from einkorn flour yet? If so, what’s your experience?