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What Are the Best Tips for Cooking with Spelt?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Spelt is a gluten-free grain that can be enjoyed in many different ways, such as a side dish for a main meal or as an addition in baked goods. It is important that when an individual prepares spelt that the berries are rinsed and soaked before using, as this aids in the final texture and taste of the finished product. Cooking with spelt berries usually follows the same rules applied to cooking with other grains like rice and oats, which often only involve rinsing, soaking and boiling in water or milk. When using spelt flour to replace wheat flour in baked goods, it is often recommended to add a thickening agent to act as the gluten that is normally missing in most spelt flours.

Spelt berries need to be rinsed to remove any dirt, shells or other debris that may interfere with the cooking process. Like beans, spelt berries should be soaked in water overnight to speed up the cooking process and create softer berries. Cooking with spelt berries requires twice the amount of water as dried berries, as the berries will absorb this water while cooking. Cooked spelt berries can be used as a substitute for oats in oatmeal, making water and milk interchangeable ingredients when cooking with spelt.

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In gluten-free baked goods, like breads and pastries, spelt berries are ground into a flour and used interchangeably for regular wheat flour. When cooking with spelt flour, it is often suggested that a gluten replacement is added to the food, like guar gum or xanthan gum. These gluten-free thickeners act like a binder, a role that gluten plays in traditional wheat-baked breads. Spelt flour can also be used as a coating for frying foods like chicken or fish. When used as a coating, spelt flour does not require a thickening agent of any kind.

Spelt flour can also be used to make wheat-free pastas, which are very popular among consumers who cannot process the gluten in most wheat-based pastas. The rules for cooking with spelt pasta follow the same guidelines as cooking with traditional wheat pasta, as they are both similar in texture. Adding salt to the cooking water seems to make the pasta cook faster, and will also aid in the overall taste of the food. Making spelt pasta at home can often be difficult, but can be accomplished using pure spelt flour and water, along with a home pasta cutting machine.

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anon293351
Post 4

Can you give me more information on spelt being gluten free?

KoiwiGal
Post 3

I love using spelt in my cooking because I try to use as many ancient grains as possible.

These grains were used for thousands of years because they are versatile and nutritious and then they simply fell out of fashion because they aren't able to make the kind of fluffy bread that wheat can make and that we all take for granted as being normal at the moment.

Eating a wide variety of grains increases your intake of all kinds of vitamins, particularly as they often aren't nearly as processed as wheat (making it into a white flour strips most of the nutritional value from it).

I don't advocate removing wheat entirely from your diet, but alternating other options can definitely help to make you healthier.

indigomoth
Post 2

@pastanaga - I think most people who are required to abstain from all gluten are pretty good at checking the labels actually.

I really like spelt bread myself, although I'm not sure I'd like a bread made purely from spelt and guar gum. It might not have all that much flavor or the doughy kind of texture that you get with wheat bread.

But, of course there are lots of people who don't have that kind of option. If you have a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance you can't really take that sort of risk.

pastanaga
Post 1

If you are planning on using spelt as a gluten free flour make sure that you pick one that's certified gluten free.

Spelt is often used in breads that also contain flour and it is often processed in factories that also process wheat. So, don't assume that just because something is spelt, or contains spelt that it is gluten free.

This might not be so important if you are merely cutting down on gluten or trying to avoid it because of personal preferences, but for people who are truly gluten intolerant it can be the difference between life and death.

Most companies proudly advertise it if they are gluten free and in most countries, companies are required to write on the packaging if the product contains gluten, so you should be able to rely on the packaging.

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