White spelt flour comes from milling spelt an ancient grain that is a relative of wheat. It is one of the most popular and widely available non-wheat flours. The full name of spelt is Triticum aestivum var. spelta. It is a cereal grain in the wheat family that has been cultivated for thousands of years – originally in Iran, then Europe and only in the past century has spelt been cultivated in North America. When the bran and germ are removed, leaving just the endosperm of the grain, the resulting flour is white and fine-textured. White Spelt Flour has a sweet, nutty flavor and can be substituted for all-purpose flour in baked goods, using 25% less water. It does contain gluten and is a popular substitute for wheat in baked goods. Spelt has gained popularity in recent years. We have become more aware of the need to vary the grains we consume and we are seeking out healthy alternatives.
Benefits of Spelt Flour:
Spelt is more water-soluble and more easily digested than wheat flour. It is preferred by many people with wheat sensitivities and may be an acceptable substitute for some people with gluten intolerance however; it is not gluten-free. Spelt is not be a suitable substitute for someone with true wheat allergies or celiac disease.
Even if you are fortunate not to suffer from a wheat sensitivity, spelt can be a great addition to your diet. I like to cook with a variety of grains and flours to help ensure we get a wide array of nutrients and the benefits of many different foods. Spelt flour has slightly more protein and fewer calories than wheat flour. It contains a broad array of nutrients and is a good source of vitamin B2, manganese, niacin, copper, phosphorus, protein, and fiber. Spelt has a much tougher outer husk than wheat. During milling, this tough outer shell helps protect the grain, preserving both nutrients and flavor. It also helps protect the grain from pests and infestations which makes it much easier to grow without the use of pesticides.
Spelt flour can be found in the organic section of your local grocery store or in bulk food sections of natural food stores. Make sure there is no sign of moisture in the package or container. If you are buying in a bulk food store, make sure there is a high turnover at the store to ensure the product is fresh. Spelt flour should be refrigerated, however if you are going to be using it within a few days, it is fine stored in an airtight container on a cool, dark shelf.
Take Home Message
Spelt is an ancient whole grain that can be a nutritious addition to the diet. Regularly consuming spelt or other whole grains could help protect against obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, it does contain gluten, and is not a good option for people with Celiac disease or a wheat allergy.