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on-farm research, einkorn, emmer, ancient grain, living lab   2022. February 4. News

Hungary’s largest organic agriculture research institute presents flour from ancient grains

Emmer and einkorn landrace organic flour varieties are now on sale

These landrace ancient grains have stood the test of time, and may continue to play a key role in the future. Thanks to many years of work by the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture - ÖMKi On-farm living lab, organic flour made from Hungarian-grown landrace emmer and einkorn ancient grains, which bring exciting diversity to local gastronomy, is now available for retail purchase. These healthy flour varieties, with a high nutritional content and a special taste, were first tested in the ovens of Hungarian craft bakeries.

The conservation of biodiversity plays an important role in organic farming, which is why researchers are working to bring back to public awareness those landrace ancient grain varieties that have been displaced from cultivation. This was what first prompted ÖMKi On-farm living lab network’s efforts, but it took much more than that for these plans to come to fruition, and for organic emmer and einkorn flour suitable for the needs of the modern kitchen to reach the tables of Hungarian shoppers.

Ancient grains may play a key role in the future

Scientific research confirms that the beneficial fatty acid, starch, and protein composition, as well as the digestibility, antioxidant-compound, and mineral content of emmer and einkorn wheat varieties make them exceptionally healthy foods. Emmer and einkorn are also unique cereals, in that those who suffer from various allergies (not coeliac disease!), colitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, are all advised to include them in their diets.

These grains are more disease resistant under agricultural cultivation, and possess advantageous adaptability, vitality and weed control properties. They can also withstand more extreme conditions, and so can be effectively integrated into organic farming.

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Einkorn ancient grains on the right side, and emmer on the left side

Why do we call them ancient grains?

The best-known ancient grain species, also known as husked grains is spelt, while emmer, and einkorn have only recently begun to enjoy a renaissance. Ancient wheats are not old varieties of the bread wheat known today, but an entirely separate grain species. Einkorn, for instance, is the one-grained wheat first cultivated by mankind about 12,000 years ago. Although grown in some parts of Central Asia to this day, with the advent of bread wheat and the spread of conventional farming, these cereals have almost completely disappeared from agriculture in Europe. Thanks to their excellent properties, in both organic and conventional production, these ancient wheats can return some missing diversity into bread culture, complement mass production, and improve the quality of baked goods.

Organic emmer and einkorn flours available for retail purchase

ÖMKi has been dealing with ancient grains for more than five years, in addition to testing bread wheat varieties within their On-farm living lab network. It is their belief that in addition to the production of excellent organic wheat, it is also important that the entire organic production line, including milling and processing, should be undertaken by local companies, and that the local public and gastronomy should have access to locally produced organic products.

Dr Dóra Drexler, the Director of ÖMKi, said the following: “We went beyond our narrow research area when we set the goal of making flour milled from grain grown by our On-farm partners – which was among the best in our field experiments – available nationwide as part of a product line development. We are pleased to announce that this goal has been realized.”

From the third week of January, organic emmer and einkorn flour from ÖMKi's partner network is available in half-kilo bags in one of the national supermarket chains. Availability will initially be limited, but if the first commercial attempt proves successful, larger quantities will be offered to consumers in the future. In one of the production sites, at the Csoroszlya Farm in Fejér County, flour ground using a traditional process on a millstone was tested by Hungarian craft bakeries before its appearance as a product on the retail market.

ÖMKi bio tájfajta ősgabona lisztek
From January 2022, organic emmer and einkorn flour from
ÖMKi's living lab partner network is available in limited edition
at one of the national supermarket chains

Let our daily bread be healthy!

Sourdough bread, also known as the bread of our ancestors, is experiencing a renaissance in which artisanal bakeries are playing a major role. Alongside this growing commercial presence, the number of home experimenters is also growing. Gabriella Ormós, founder of the Kovászlabor (Sourdough Lab) professional group, has previously tried emmer and einkorn flour varieties. In this video (available with English subtitle) she made about it, we can see how bread made from ancient grains will be light and soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. 

Az ÖMKi szakmai katalizátorként segíti az ősgabonák újrafelfedezését. (2)
Sourdough breads made with emmer and einkorn flour

Six reasons to eat healthy, organic emmer and einkorn flour

  1. They have a higher trace element and macro-element content. They are also richer in iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene than standard flour. The dietary fibre content of emmer and einkorn is also much higher than that of modern wheat.

  2. The protein content of grains in the ear is higher (as much as 16-20%), the amino acid composition (essential amino acid content) is more beneficial, and the digestibility of their protein is practically 100%.

  3. Their gluten composition is very different from that of standard wheat. They are less toxic, meaning they cause fewer people an allergic reaction (however, they do contain gluten, and are therefore not suitable for people suffering from coeliac disease!).

  4. Their starch and fatty acid composition is also very beneficial, and their consumption has been shown to lower cholesterol, glucose, and insulin levels, as well as high blood pressure. As a result of the slower carbohydrate degradation process, the feeling of saturation persists for a longer time.

  5. Compared to modern wheat, they contain a larger quantity of bioactive compounds (phenols, flavonoids, carotenoids and phytosterols), some of which have anti-cancer and highly antioxidant properties.

  6. Einkorn is rich in vitamin E, and some varieties are also rich in B vitamins (B2, B6), while emmer has also been found to contain high levels of vitamin B9.

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