About The Grains
Wheat comes to us from Turkey and southern Russia. Over 200 varieties have been described, of which only three account for 90 percent of all the wheat grown in the world today. Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested in the following June or July. Spring wheat is planted after the spring frosts and harvested in late summer. For cooking purposes wheat can be classified as either hard or soft.
Hard wheat is higher in protein, particularly gluten, a protein unique to wheat and to a lesser extent rye, barley and oats. Gluten imparts elasticity and strength to flours. It entraps carbon dioxide during the leavening process resulting in the unique rising characteristic of wheat flour doughs. Bread makers prefer hard winter wheat. Older varieties of hard wheat are spelt and khorasan, and Red Fife.
Durum wheats are also hard wheats, but they are typically planted in the spring. They are used for spaghetti, macaroni and other noodles.
Soft wheats are lower in protein. They are used for flour that is not yeasted but processed into baked goods such as pastries cookies and crackers.
Hard red winter wheat was introduced to Kansas by Mennonite settlers from Southern Ukraine (who called the wheat "Turkey Red"), particularly B. Warkentin, in 1873 and was advanced by C.C. Georgeson, who recognized its potential.
Hard red spring varieties comprise about 80 per cent of all wheat grown in western Canada. Although this figure fluctuates from year to year, the class is a top seller globally for one overriding reason: consistently high milling and baking quality.
Canada has established itself as a leading global supplier to this high-value market.
Bread flour and high gluten flours are commonly made from hard red spring wheat.
Canadian Western Hard Red Spring (CWRS) wheat is recognized as premium quality wheat, ideal for breadmaking due to its superior milling qualities, baking characteristics and protein content. Organic wheat production is becoming more prevalent in Canada, due to increasing consumer demand for organic wheat products.
Khorasan, commonly known by it's trademark name, Kamut, is believed to be of Egyptian origin. In the 1940s a serviceman stationed in Portugal was given a few grains of wheat said to be from King Tut’s Tomb. In time the grain found its way to a ranch in Montana where is was planted and grown organically for many years. In the late 1970s, an agronomist and biochemist by the name of Bob Quinn became interested in this exceptional grain, which he named “kamut” after the word for “wheat” in the ancient Egyptian tongue. The grain is closely related to emmer, the great-grandfather of modern wheats, but unlike emmer it threshes free of its hull. The plant’s scientific name is Triticum turgidum, subspecies turanicum, and it is also known as Khorasan wheat (from the name of a province in Iran).
Khorasan is grown organically since it is well suited to this method of farming. It has not undergone the genetic improvements that have produced high-yielding strains of modern wheat but have at the same time often diminished the plant's natural resistance and hardiness.
Compared to common wheat, Khorasan is richer in protein (by between 15% and 40%), minerals such as magnesium and zinc, Vitamin Bs and Vitamin E and unsaturated fatty acids, but contains a little less dietary fibre. Khorasan provides much energy and is appreciated by people with active lifestyles. Khorasan flour has a mild, somewhat sweet taste. Khorasan flour is not refined or bleached, and thus retains all of its nutritional qualities.
Oats have numerous uses in food; most commonly, they are rolled or crushed into oatmeal, or ground into fine oat flour. Oatmeal is chiefly eaten as porridge, but may also be used in a variety of baked goods, such as oatcakes, oatmeal cookies, and oat bread. Oats are also an ingredient in many cold cereals, in particular muesli and granola. Oats may also be consumed raw, and cookies with raw oats are becoming popular. Oat is the only cereal containing a globulin or legume-like protein, avenalin, as the major (80%) storage protein. Globulins are characterized by water solubility; because of this property, oats may be turned into milk but not into bread. Oat protein is nearly equivalent in quality to soy protein, which has been shown by the World Health Organization to be equal to meat, milk, and egg protein.
Red Fife wheat is a heritage bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) and is a landrace, meaning there is genetic variability in the wheat, allowing it to adapt to a diversity of growing conditions. Red Fife is the name of a bread wheat variety that David Fife and family began to grow in 1842. By the 1860s Red Fife was distributed and growing across Canada, adapting to a broad diversity of growing conditions. Renowned as a fine milling and baking wheat it set Canadian wheat standards for over 40 years. Farmers stopped using Red Fife and Marquis as ‘new and improved’ varieties came onto the market.
Spelt is one of the oldest of cultivated grains and was an important wheat species in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times. It is believed to originate from the area now known as Iran. One of the original seven grains mentioned in the Bible, spelt found its way throughout Europe where it remained a very popular grain for hundreds of years. Spelt was introduced to North America in the 19th century but was eventually replaced by wheat.
Spelt is a distant cousin to modern wheat and one of the oldest cultivated grains. Current research indicates few differences between hard red wheat and Canadian spelt. Researchers have also found evidence supporting the claim that spelt may be easier for humans to digest than wheat. Modern wheat has been altered over the years through breeding to simplify its growth and harvesting, increase its yield and raise its gluten content for the production of commercial baked goods--all of which has rendered modern wheat more difficult to digest. Spelt, on the other hand, has not been as popular in our food supply and has therefore retained many of its original traits.
One of the first grains to be grown by early farmers, spelt is finding renewed popularity with Canadian and American consumers. Spelt has found a new market as a top-selling health food in organic and health food markets. The organic farming movement has made it more popular because spelt is hardier than wheat and does not require fertilizers.
Spelt has a tough husk that makes it more difficult to process than modern wheat varieties. This is one of the reasons why it is more expensive. The husk both protects the kernel and helps it retain nutrients and remain fresh.
Spelt is a great source of fibre and has large amounts of B-complex vitamins. Spelt contains about 62 percent carbohydrates, 8.8 percent fibre, 12 percent protein, and 2.7 percent fat. The total protein content from spelt is from 10 to 25% greater than the common varieties of commercial wheat.
Spelt is high in protein and lower in gluten than many other types of wheat, therefore usually digestible by wheat intolerant or sensitive people. Its gluten, however, is ‘fragile’, so it tends to break down under heavy kneading or in bread machines. Spelt bread takes just a few minutes to knead by hand, at which point it will be "smooth and elastic" as the cookbooks say, unless one has added sticky ingredients to it, like honey. If people follow this simple rule, of using a very "light hand" on their spelt flour, their bread should turn out fine.
Lentils contain high levels of proteins, including the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine. Lentils are deficient in two essential amino acids, methionine and cystine. However, sprouted lentils contain sufficient levels of all essential amino acids, including methionine and cystine. Apart from a high level of proteins, lentils also contain dietary fibre, Folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Red (or pink) lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils (11% rather than 31%). Health Magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods. Lentils are often mixed with grains, such as rice, which results in a complete protein dish. Lentils are one of the best vegetable sources of iron.