Einkorn, ‘Original Wheat,’ is making converts in the New World

Einkorn, ‘Original Wheat,’ is making converts in the New World

Record-Journal


NORTH STONINGTON — Few know about einkorn, an ancient wheat that grew in the Fertile Crescent 12,000 years ago, but Carla Bartolucci is working to change that.

Bartolucci, president of Euro-USA Trading Co. Inc., manufacturer of Bionaturae and Jovial-brand organic foods, led an informal discussion about einkorn Thursday night at the company’s headquarters, located on the former Randall’s Ordinary property.

The company was founded in 1996, when Carla became interested in the emerging organic food market after losing both of her parents to cancer. From an Italian family with roots in New London, Bartolucci married Rodolfo Viola, an Italian, and moved to Italy, where the couple began to grow organic tomatoes and beans, produce organic olive oil, and manufacture pastas and jellies, all of which they import to the U.S. for distribution to grocery stores and food vendors. The couple and their two daughters live outside Modena, Italy, during the school year and return to Connecticut every summer.

When they discovered their daughter, Olivia, had a sensitivity to wheat, the couple searched for an alternative, which led them to einkorn, which means “one grain” in German.

The couple began to grow einkorn in Italy and will eventually grow it domestically on the company’s 27-acre site.

At the free “Einkorn Evening” event, about 20 people gathered around an enormous wooden table in a high-ceilinged conference room on the second floor of Jovial’s new administration and test kitchen building.

Bartolucci, dressed casually in white jeans and a long sleeveless linen top, spoke about the history of einkorn and how it is grown, and gave a hands-on presentation of how to make dough with einkorn flour.

While not gluten-free, einkorn is easier to digest than modern wheat hybrids. The grain is one-third smaller than a modern wheatberry and has 30 percent more protein and 15 percent less starch, making it easier to digest, Bartolucci said.

When ground into flour, einkorn is also more complicated to bake with because its molecular structure is different from regular wheat flour. When made into dough, einkorn flour is also stickier, rises more slowly and absorbs moisture at a different rate than regular flour.

After testing many recipes, Bartolucci authored “Einkorn: Nature’s Original Wheat,” published by Clarkson Potter in 2014, to share successful recipes and techniques, including using a sourdough starter for making bread.

A number of the attendees were already Jovial and einkorn fans and had come to the presentation to learn more.

Desirée Pearson and Rob Champagne, of Lebanon, Conn., who found out about the event via Facebook, said they started with Jovial’s gluten-free pasta about a year and a half ago and were experimenting with the company’s other products.

“We find einkorn is easy to digest,” said Pearson. “We wanted to learn more about how to cook with it — that’s why we’re here.”

Howard and Laura Bergenholtz, of Columbia, Conn., said they’d been baking with einkorn for about a year and a half but were looking for tips for working with the grain.

“It is very much experimental; with all of the recipes, you’ve got to figure it out. It’s a new way of baking,” said Howard Bergenholtz. “We just figured this is an easy way to get a step ahead — find out what the tricks are.”

“We haven’t purchased the cookbook; he’s just experimenting on his own,” said Laura Bergenholtz, adding that she previously avoided bread for years because it caused her to gain weight, but she can eat einkorn bread without that concern. “If I ate bread twice a week, I used to gain weight. But now I eat bread every day — it’s amazing.”

The couple buys 20 pounds of einkorn flour every six weeks and bakes two loaves per week, Howard said.

“It’s the best pie crust, and I make biscotti; the pancakes are great, and I make profiteroles,” he laughed. “The more we eat, the more we have to bake.”

Lauren Vickerman, of Pawcatuck, who is an e-commerce associate for the company, said customers often call to ask questions about baking techniques.

“It’s a little challenging because it’s so different from modern wheat; you kind of have to forget what you already know,” she said. “Carla’s Italian and she has a real old-school talent and it’s an old-school way of baking. It’s not just an old grain, it’s an old technique.”

For more information on einkorn, go to www.jovialfoods.com.

chewitt@thewesterlysun.com


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