All About Einkorn Grain

Low-gluten einkorn, so named for having only one grain per flower, nearly vanished in the rush to develop faster-growing, easy-to-harvest wheat strains.

Photo by Jovial Foods

Carla Bartolucci dove into the organic food industry in 1996, when the movement was starting to catch on in mainstream America. In those days, her company, Jovial Foods, focused on offering gluten-free and healthy food options. But then, her daughter Giulia showed signs of gluten sensitivity. The Bartolucci family has strong Italian roots and had always enjoyed cultural staples, such as pasta, leaving Bartolucci to wonder if there was a way her daughter could still consume these foods.

“Gluten-free products are not as nutritious as whole-wheat, and they’re harder to bake bread with,” says Bartolucci. “I felt like maybe there was some other type of wheat for her out there.”

In 2007, Bartolucci’s search led her to food scientists in northern Italy who told her about einkorn, an ancient wheat that was first domesticated more than 10,000 years ago. Initially, the prospect seemed promising. Bartolucci found that einkorn had lower gluten levels than modern wheat cultivars, and it hadn’t been hybridized with other species. Plus, it’s packed with more protein than modern wheat and contains plenty of B vitamins and minerals, such as iron. Unfortunately, einkorn was close to extinction.

Rolling fields of einkorn stretch across portions of Italy again, where the grain was grown primarily for animal feed after advances in wheat breeding following WWII.
Photo by Jovial Foods

“It started to disappear when spelt came around, which is the ancestor that got transformed into modern bread wheat,” Bartolucci says. 



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