Ancient grains have not been modified with hybridization or modification and have been grown the same way for centuries.
Christina here, Kent’s wife. Talking more about super healthy whole grains.
Ancient grains have been eaten for thousands of years. Over time, especially in the United States, grains have been modified genetically or with hybridizing to produce more, be easier to harvest, be more pest or disease resistant, or for other benefits.
The problem with modifying what was already created and good is that when you change how something grows, you are also changing the way our bodies may react to it. Ancient grains are grown from seeds saved from plants over and over again through the generations without changes being made to them.
Whole grains are unrefined grains that are used with the grain fully intact. Using the bran, the germ, and the endosperm. Processed grains have the bran and germ of the whole grain removed before making them into a dish you eat.
You are left with the endosperm. This removes all of the antioxidants, many of the vitamins, and most of the fiber the grain originally contained. Modern grains are largely processed this way in the modern diet. Knowing the benefits of whole grains, what about modern vs ancient grains?
Ancient grains have been shown in studies to lead to better heart health and overall health because they have more nutrition and fiber. Some examples of ancient grains are farro, barley, buckwheat, freekah, kamut, teff, rye, sorghum, millet, einkorn, spelt, and amaranth.
Ancient grains can be used like other grains in soups, salads, pilafs, stir-fries, etc. They can also be ground into flour to make bread and other products such as pancakes.
Are ancient grains gluten free?
Some ancient grains are naturally gluten-free. Gluten is a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins causes illness in people with celiac disease.
Ancient grains that do not contain gluten are amaranth, buckwheat, millet, sorghum, and teff.
Where to buy ancient grains
You can get a few ancient grains or flours at places like Walmart, Amazon, or Target. There is a great selection of ancient whole-grain berries as well as flours of ancient grains at Great River Organic Milling.
If there is a specific ancient grain you’re looking for you can google it. But you may be able to find a local source near you if you are looking for some of the more common ones. It used to be much harder to find products like that, but they are getting more and more common.
Baking with ancient grains
For the most part, you can switch ancient grains out with modern ones in recipes. You need to remember that if you are baking bread or making pizza crust or something that needs elasticity to turn out soft, you have to use a product with as much gluten as what the recipe calls for.
This means you can’t use gluten-free flour to make something that requires gluten proteins. I have had good luck combining spelt and kamut to bake bread. And I’ve also been able to swap the same measurements of einkorn flour for whole wheat flour. You have to make a small batch and try it out and then you’ll get into a rhythm of what works.
If you want recipes to use with einkorn flour, check out A Modern Homestead for tons of tips.
Ancient grains flour
I like to buy the berries and grind my own flour in my nutrimill grain mill. I know it’s fresh. I know it’s nutritious. And I can grind as needed so I don’t have a big ole bunch of flour getting rancid in the cabinet. I store any leftovers in the freezer to preserve the nutrients for as long as possible.
Ancient grains bread
Once I bake my ancient grains bread, I slice the loaf and store it in an airtight container in the freezer to keep it fresh. Homemade bread doesn’t stay fresh on the counter like store-bought bread because it’s not full of preservatives to keep it from molding and drying out.
Here is the best bread maker recipe that I’ve used to make the kid’s everyday bread.