Spelt is an ancient grain that has been grown in Somerset since the start of the Iron Age. It has a unique gluten structure which makes it easier to digest than modern wheat.
It has a delicious nutty taste, not dissimilar to barley. High in protein and fibre, spelt is a good source of slow release energy. So much so, that the Roman army called it their marching grain.
Spelt in common with other nuts, grains and seeds, contains phytic acid, a unique natural substance which can impair the absorption of iron, zinc and calcium. Soaking the grain for several hours or overnight can reduce phytate content substantially.
According to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, while pearled barley and spelt are “whole” in the sense of not being rolled, broken or ground down, they are not “wholegrains” but refined: the “pearling” that gives them their name is the process of polishing off the outer bran layer. Soaking is not necessary therefore.
Spelt can be used in soups, stews and salads. It also makes a delicious risotto.