With celiacs, it’s black and white: no gluten allowed. But the case could be different for individuals with lower-level gluten sensitivities and those limiting gluten intake for nonmedical reasons, according to Jeffrey Barnes, founder and owner, Edison Grainery, Oakland, CA, hence, the rising interest in the ancient wheats einkorn, spelt and faro — “the Biblical wheats,” as he described them.
“These wheats are generally lower in gluten,” Mr. Barnes said. “The growing number of individuals who are gluten-intolerant may have an aversion to modern wheat, and there is a theory that protein digestibility changed with its development.” He noted that the ancient wheats carry 12 to 14 chromosomes, a diploid arrangement. Modern wheat is a hexaploid plant with 42 chromosomes.
“The older varieties may be the way to go,” he suggested.
In a reversal of fortune, of sorts, Campden BRI is looking at using gluten-free formulating techniques to help bakers make better products using low-protein flour. The research group, based at Chipping Campden in the UK, hopes to address baking quality problems caused by the poor UK wheat harvest. British-grown wheat is typically lower in protein than that from many other parts of the world, but the past harvest has seen the lowest protein levels in 30 years as well as low yields.
In another development, Essential Eating LLC, Waverly, PA, reported that many gluten-sensitive people report no issues with consuming sprouted wheat and spelt flours. The company noted that sprouted flour digests more like a plant than a starch. It opened a certified-organic sprouted spelt and wheat flour mill in 2007.
Another source for sprouted wheat flour is Bay State Milling Co., Quincy, MA. The company offers it in its specialty flour line.