I’ve been grinding my own wheat for about a decade now and, time was, I had my preferences regarding what wheat to use for what baked good; hard-red was for hearty breads and soft-white was for cookies and pie crusts. After a lot of experience with and education regarding modern wheat, leaky gut syndrome and yeast overgrowth, my idea of what makes a quality baked good has changed drastically. I really only have one purpose for this post and that’s to brag on my new found friend, Kamut, so I won’t be going into the various health issues surrounding wheat consumption in our times. Let’s just say that sometimes you want a nice, warm loaf of bread and when you do, may I suggest you try using Kamut wheat?
Kamut is a trademarked brand of Khorizan wheat which is an ancient, non-hybridized relative of Durum Semolina. Consequently, it does have gluten but it’s more nutritive than conventional wheat and many people with gluten sensitivity can eat Kamut, especially if it’s prepared in a traditional way like soaking or sprouting. Kamut is, more often than not, raised by organic producers, which is nice if you’re trying to avoid herbicides – conventional wheat is quite heavily sprayed and often genetically modified. (You can follow this link to begin to learn a little more or explore Weston Price Foundation’s website, but you can do a lot of necessary reading at your local library on this topic, too.) Kamut is healthier overall and richer than most wheat (around 30% more protein and rich in magnesium, zinc and vitamin E) and has a buttery flavor with a slightly sweet tinge.
I now use it almost exclusively for our family bread, coffee cakes and cookies. My favorite part about baking with this wheat is its smooth, silky texture. It also has this warm, creamy yellow color that is really appealing, visually speaking. It’s certainly not as light and fluffy as the enriched white flour you buy in the store so if you’re still baking with that, do a few experiments with the Kamut until you get the look, flavor and texture you want. If you only ever eat white flour, take your transition to whole wheat flour slowly so as not to cause undue stomach upset. Also, you have to knead Kamut a bit longer if you’re making bread because its gluten isn’t as elastic but it’s nothing you can’t handle – you’re a tough guy who makes bread from scratch, after all.
Kamut stores just as well as any wheat; wheat is long term food storage’s best friend. Expect to pay more for it, though – around twice as much. As my ideas about health and nutrition have matured I’ve discovered what I’m willing to pay for…and what I’m not willing to pay for in terms of health problems. I buy Kamut exclusively now for baking in our home and only use other wheats (organic when possible) for my livestock. However, we also don’t eat nearly as much wheat as we used to so the cost mostly evens out for us. I buy Kamut in the largest quantities I can; Azure Standard has it in 25 lbs bags for about $24 but you’ll need to figure out shipping/drop point technicalities for your area. If you’re in Utah, I recommend Alpine Food Storage which specializes in health food storage options and carries Kamut for $33 for 25lbs or $63 for 50lbs bags. Walton also has it in several sizes and for a range of reasonable prices and, like with Azure Standard, you can arrange a drop point with them for group orders. At this point, the LDS canneries and storehouses don’t offer Kamut or any ancient grain so that typical bulk storage option won’t work here; most likely you’ll strike out at more local places like Walmart, but you can always find it in health food stores like Good Earth in smaller amounts. Versagrain has a few ideas on where to purchase Kamut, too. I feed seven to ten people any given meal, so I’m always looking for bulk amounts and bulk prices to feed my tribe, especially for long term storage.
Late in February, Homestead Lady will have a whole post about a baking soda raised, kefir fermented cinnamon roll recipe using 100% Kamut flour and you’re welcome to pop over there and read more about how to use Kamut and why I prefer it. You can mix your flours, if you like; half Kamut, half white flour. With very few exceptions (except around Christmas when I’m making cookies for “normal” friends and neighbors – not everyone is a weird foodie like me!), I just don’t use white flour anymore. I haven’t noticed a huge difference in the rise on the crumb using no white flour but, as I said, Kamut is going to be a bit heavier than enriched, store bought, white flour which is designed to resemble ground up baby angels (but without the goodness).
Do you have a favorite ancient grain? I’d love to know about it – I’m always up for an experiment in the kitchen!
Tessa Zundel is the homemaking, homesteading, homeschooling mother of five small children and wife to one long suffering man. She currently lives on an acre in suburban Utah with several generations of her family. She is an advanced master gardener, slowly working on becoming a master herbalist and is the founder of the Salt Lake County Seed Swap. Most days you’ll find her hauling her good natured, adventuresome children around to learn about herbs, small farm livestock, fiber and other lost arts, whole foods and home education. There’s always something being tinctured, fermented, built or milked around here – just ask the long suffering man! To find out what her latest project is, pop on over to Homestead Lady and join the fun!