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5 Ways Einkorn Is Different Than Wheat Flour

Some people with gluten sensitivities have discovered that einkorn bread and other products don’t make them hurt! Einkorn DOES contain gluten, but there are some big differences between einkorn and wheat. You’ll need to bake differently with einkorn, but if you can tolerate it, you’ll be so thrilled!

einkorn flour

That aroma of yeasty goodness filling the house, invading your sense so that you can almost taste the soft crumb of BREAD that is heading for your mouth…

For many of us in the current culture, that experience is a thing of the past. We’re more likely to say, “Oh, I miss bread!” than, “Mmmmmm, buttered toast please!”

Sure, there are gluten-free breads and recipes, and even some that are pretty good, but it’s no fun to juggle the many flours and finesse GF bread recipes require (except this amazing pumpkin muffins recipe!) and the cost, availability, and potential for iffy ingredients in commercial gluten-free sandwich bread.

Many with gluten sensitivities, like my husband and an estimated 18,000,000 other Americans, simply skip the bread most of the time. Same goes for those who are generally avoiding most gluten because of bad reports about it or wanting to avoid empty carbs, like me.

But I miss it terribly!

Bread is such an easy thing to have around for any meal of the day, and the beauty of grabbing a recipe that you KNOW will work out and be delicious can’t be understated in this world of Pinterest gambles.

The big question we have to ask when discussing gluten sensitivity is this: Is your body messed up or the wheat?

10,000 Years Isn’t Actually Very Long for Wheat

5 Ways Einkorn is Different Than Wheat Flour

One theory on gluten sensitivity is that people can’t adapt as quickly as plants – so while wheat has changed its form a number of times over the last 10,000 years and significantly so in the last 50-100 years, humans can’t quite keep up with our adaptations.

So although 10,000 years is a really long time to wait for the pizza delivery to show up…it’s not long enough for our bodies to be ready for the pizza crust.

Important note: Celiac and gluten sensitivity are two very different things. Celiac is an autoimmune response to wheat and is chronic. Any exposure to gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye, triticale, spelt, and a few more) is detrimental to someone with Celiac. A person with Celiac may have NO gluten at all, and even gluten cross-contamination in kitchen utensils can spell sickness

What if we could turn the clock back…not to when we ordered the pizza so that we could get a gluten-free crust, but all the way to the original wheat? Would gluten sensitive bodies be able to handle the wheat then?

When I talk about traditional foods, I call them “foods we’ve eaten for hundreds, if not thousands of years.” Einkorn fits that description well. It’s old. Seriously geriatric. But it still makes good pizza. Winking smile

Einkorn IS a form of wheat, but it is pretty different from the white or whole wheat flour you might have in your cupboard. Here’s why:

1. Einkorn Has Aged Differently Than Wheat

Like an old Indian woman with gorgeous deep wrinkles and leathery skin, no one will accuse einkorn of using expensive facial crèmes or plastic surgery to stay young. Einkorn has aged gracefully, staying the same for 10,000 years, while wheat has been hybridized both purposefully and accidentally many times over.

Einkorn was first planted by humans, we think, about 10,000 B.C. It had been growing wild in its 14-chromosome form for millennia before that. Most plants have 14 chromosomes.

Modern wheat is the result of quite a few “edits” and additional chromosomes:

  • 8,000 BC Emmer Spontaneous hybridization of wheat and goat grass (28 chromosomes)
  • 6,000 BC Spelt Emmer seeds intentionally hybridized with goat grass near the Caspian Sea (42 chromosomes)
  • 4-5,000 BC Durum and Soft Wheat Over time, farmers were able to shift emmer into durum (used in pasta) and spelt into soft wheat (pastry flour)
  • 1940-1960 Dwarf Wheat created via hybridization…and the problems began

Einkorn was static during that time, nearly extinct because farmers stopped cultivating it around the time durum and soft wheat became available. It was discovered and replenished by Jovial Foods after the founders discovered their gluten sensitive daughter could consume it without problems.

Note: Some will say that even the first wheat is too hard for humans to digest, that no one should be eating grains at all. Today we’re leaving that door open, of course, but we’re also demonstrating that einkorn is making a difference for gluten sensitive people and paving its own way nutritionally (see point #5).

M and Pin

2. Einkorn Grows Differently Than Modern Wheat

jovial foods einkorn field

Modern wheat grows on a shorter plant, has a stronger gluten and five times the yield of einkorn plants.

It’s the secret sauce for big food companies who want more growth, faster, on less land on the agricultural side, and faster rising, fluffier, lighter bread on the processing side. The gluten protein is responsible for the structure of bread, the ability to rise with yeast, and therefore it was advantageous to create a wheat with a stronger, tougher gluten.

Bread companies also add additional gluten to whole wheat bread to make it rise faster and higher, so humans are consuming far more gluten than our ancestors, even if we eat the same amount of bread. The rise in gluten sensitivities seems to point at the fact that this tweaking of nature has not been without physical health consequences.

It’s important to note that wheat is NOT currently genetically modified (GMO), although some experiments are being run and there have been some literal “escapees” from the lab, meaning that GM wheat has been found where it doesn’t belong. It could potentially infiltrate modern wheat unannounced.

3. Einkorn Nourishes Differently

We can’t interfere with a living thing without a ripple effect of consequences. In the quest for bigger/faster/more efficient, modern wheat lost a ton of nutrients.

Einkorn not only has 40% more protein and 15% less starch, it takes the blue ribbon in all these categories:

  • more than 2x the lutein of modern wheat (lutein is the “good guy” in tomatoes)
  • 42% more zinc
  • 80% more manganese
  • 25% more magnesium, a mineral that most agree Americans are widely deficient in
  • 22% more iron
  • 20% more fiber
  • einkorn even has nearly twice the antioxidant (cancer-fighting) activity as durum wheat (30% more than modern bread wheat)!

Imagine how high the protein content is when you bake these einkorn peanut butter applesauce muffins!

Jovial wheat einkorn protein info
Source: Jovial Foods

4. You Must Bake with Einkorn Differently Than Wheat Flour

5 Ways Einkorn is different than Wheat Flour

Gluten-free baked goods are difficult to master because of the lack of gluten in the flours. Gluten is the “sticky” in bread dough, the component that creates structure in the loaf, that holds everything together. It automatically has the balance of starch and protein needed for modern baking recipes.

Einkorn has a different gluten structure, and as we already established, it also has more protein and less starch.

For most recipes, you can’t just drop in an equal part einkorn flour for your wheat flour and be rocking and rolling.

Jovial Foods Einkorn Baking Cookbook

The founder of Jovial Foods has been working with einkorn flour since 2009, and she has developed recipes to perfection with the ancient grain. Over 100 of them are now collected for the first time in the Einkorn Cookbook, an indispensable resource for anyone wanting to experiment with einkorn.

It includes basics like sandwich bread, pizza dough and crackers as well as pies, pastries and even a whole section on “street food” – culinary adventures around the world like chimichangas, kibbeh, tabbouleh, crepes, churros and more.

Recipes that stood out to me include:

  • Roasted root vegetables & chicken country-style pie
  • Slow-rise sticky cinnamon buns
  • Classic apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, carrot cake, brownies and cupcakes
  • Italian cream puffs
  • Almond crunch tart
  • Dairy-free coconut pound cake
  • Olive oil and wine cookies
  • Bacon and cheddar buttermilk biscuits
  • Whole grain caramelized banana bread
  • Slow-fermented Belgian waffles
  • Plus a slew of breads, pretty much anything you could want, from ciabatta, baguettes and boule to whole grain bread, sandwich bread and even no-knead overnight bread, plus tortillas, bagels, cornbread and more!

The cookbook also instructs on the finer points of einkorn. If you like to geek out on science a little, you’ll love stuff like this:

When scientists measure the amount of gluten in flour, they must first mix dough, because dry flour in itself does not contain gluten – instead, it contains groups of proteins called glutenins and gliadins, which bond together to form gluten when mixed with liquid.

Glutenins are further classified as high molecular weight and low molecular weight proteins; modern bread flours are considered of good quality for baking when they have a high content of high molecular weight proteins, which can influence the dough’s mixing times, elasticity, and gluten strength – and thus the finished loaf’s volume.

While einkorn has enough gluten for bread baking, it is lacking in certain high molecular weight proteins, and you can feel how much it differs in its extreme stickiness and reduced elasticity. Gliadins are classified into four groups of protein, and when researchers analyzed the gliadin composition in einkorn, they found that entire groups of y-gliadins that are present in all other types of wheat are absent in this ancient grain.

Einkorn also has a complete imbalance in the ratios of these proteins compared to other wheats, with a much higher ratio of gliadins to glutenins. (p. 3)

The cookbook is available at Amazon. Grab the book and some einkorn and be ready for baking season! Get American grown einkorn here!

My friend Wardee also teaches an entire class on baking with einkorn, and it’s amazing! Learn from her wisdom on that topic and many others at Traditional Cooking School and grab the free no-knead sourdough einkorn bread recipe!

5. Einkorn May Be Tolerated by Gluten Sensitive People

jovial einkorn sweet potato breakingPerhaps precisely because of the gliadin/glutenin differences, many people with gluten sensitivities are finding they can tolerate einkorn without difficulty.

There’s no hard science to prove this, but I don’t think there’s a lot of hard science about gluten sensitivities in the first place. (Some gluten sensitive people notice that they can handle spelt as well.) It’s all about how you feel and how your body reacts.

Again, einkorn has the same amount of gluten as modern wheat, but of a different quality. The stronger gluten structures have potential to be harder on digestion.

Please remember that Celiac disease is not about digestion, but rather an autoimmune response. Einkorn is NOT safe for people with Celiac.

In our family, we’ve eaten “gluten light” for 4-5 years now. My husband has a seeming gluten sensitivity, but it is strangely intermittent and doesn’t act up every time he consumes gluten, only every once in a while. So we’re not a good testing ground for einkorn, although we’ve enjoyed some of Jovial’s einkorn pasta in the past.

If you or someone in your family is gluten sensitive and you’re willing to experiment, this may be the magical way to get your bread back.

I can’t wait to see the creations you make with einkorn!

And I’m even more curious to hear you share whether einkorn has been a successful experiment if you have a gluten sensitivity. I’d love to collect stories of people realizing they only have a “modern gluten” sensitivity and can still eat einkorn! Comment on this post or hit me via social media any time with your results.

BUY EINKORN FLOUR on Amazon TO TEST IT OUT! (OR grab some from an American farmer)

Be sure to share this post with friends you know who are on the gluten-free train (not celiacs though)!

Photos used with permission from Jovial Foods. I received a copy of the book and sample of flour for purposes of writing this post, but all opinions are my own.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

28 thoughts on “5 Ways Einkorn Is Different Than Wheat Flour”

  1. I tried Einkhorn many years ago, but didn’t have the book or any real guidance on how to make it good. My youngest tested allergic to so many things that don’t make sense to us at all, so we are trying Einkhorn. So far, a few weeks in, it’s working out well. I’m praying things will go for us like they did for the daughter of the author of the book.

    My Einkhorn sourdough is ready bit strengthening. Can’t wait to make my first bread with it as things get going.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’m so glad it’s working out for you! We do einkorn sourdough and love it! My two boys and I all have varying degrees of sensitivity to gluten but can all tolerate einkorn.

  2. whisperingsage

    I began to have IBS D in 2003 after taking all my childhood shots to get into nursing school. It took me years to figure out I had vaccine injury from that as the root cause and a few more years to know from Stephanie Seneff that the MMR vaccine has Round Up (glyphosate) contamination. THIS I think is my root cause. I had chronic diarrhea for 13 years, (12+ times a day) And had tried over 50 herbs to stop it, and every nutrient known to man at the time. Due to listening to Dr Mercola Interviewing Stephanie Seneff on Sulphur, I thought “I missed that one”, and started MSM which helped, and then TMG which stopped the diarrhea. But the damage was done, I had suffered multiple deficiencies and illnesses that resulted from those that it seemed were irreversible.
    During these years I have been tested for gluten intolerance and gliadin intolerance several times in different ways, including biopsy. Always negative. In fact, it seems that eating whole grain bread would actually stop the diarrhea if temporarily. I tried various dietary changes most of which did not help. I developed a duodenal ulcer in 2009 which I have never been able to get to heal. The only Rx I am on is prilosec, (Proton pump inhibitor) which I would LOVE to get off because proton pumps are not just in the stomach, they are in every cell in the body, most abundantly in the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell. So as we are using this poison, it is killing my, our mitochondria, and defeating my body’s ability to heal. I taper down for a while, but the pain comes back and if I ignore it, it turns into vomiting.
    Anyway, after a 5-month hospitalization, 2 months ICU, on a vent, 4.5 months on TPN, no food, 14 abdominal surgeries and losing 26 cm of bowel, and my docs not knowing what is the cause, I researched Dr Don Huber, a soil pathologist who has a very good talk on glyphosate (RoundUp) and I believe that is the culprit considering how widely used it is. It destroys gut bacteria at 0.1 ppb and has a 22 year half-life in the soil. So as much as I am able, with labeling not being required, I avoid Round-Up as much as I can. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul6_Po67HV8

    I am, however, thrilled to have the Einkorn option. I can be sure that is organic. Wanting to go keto, but still knowing bread is the staff of life in the Bible, I have to think it is not inherently evil in itself, but man messed it up. And he did. Finding the Biblical wheat gives me a lot of joy. In the beginning, God called everything He made “GOOD”. There are a lot of keto alternatives we can work with, but basic bread, the safest keto version is fr0m coconut flour, but it is more like cake. Pie crusts, I can work with tigernut flour. That’s a really cool option. I know souring the dough increases the protein. Normal sweet bread has 4 grams of protein per slice but sourdough of the same size slice has 11 grams of protein. Thank you good bacteria.

  3. I am very gluten intolerant. I have been completely off gluten for @ 9 years and have a pretty strong reactions if I’m exposed… severe increase in nerve pain and also stomach upset. I have fibromyalgia and gluten really attacks my nervous system.
    I recently tried einkorn…and tolerate it very well. I do not have any pain increase or stomach upset. I did have to address some constipation…which I remedied with some herbal tea.
    After so many years without bread or flour recipes, I am thrilled to have added einkorn to my pantry. I purchased Jovial’s Einkorn book as well and really love it.
    Great article! Thank you.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That’s fantastic that einkorn has worked so well for you Melody! I love Jovial’s cookbook as well, it’s my most used cookbook!

  4. My husband is gluten-sensitive, and I made small einkorn biscuits last night for dinner. He ate one, and had pain in his gut a couple hours later. He said it wasn’t as bad as when he accidently eats regular flour (which has happened a couple times in the past when dining out) but it wasn’t worth the pain to try them again. I guess he’ll be sticking to gluten-free, and I’ll eat the biscuits myself!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That’s too bad einkorn didn’t work for him, I hope you enjoy the biscuits!

  5. I just baked my first Einkorn bread for the first time with a surprise because I have been baking sourdough bread because it easy on my tummy. My experience was it doesn’t have much elasticity while shaping the dough . I used my regular sourdough started which is made organic flour
    I like it’s nutty taste.
    Thank you for the book reference!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I bake sourdough einkorn bread too and I love the nutty flavor! It is much less elastic because the gluten is weaker. Jovial Foods has some great resources on their website as well for starting with Einkorn.

  6. Stefanie Probst

    I’m gluten sensitive and tested einkorn for the first time today. I can tolerate it just fine. It was heavier in the stomach then my gluten-free flour mix but I’ve had none of the symptoms I’ve had with normal wheat.
    I won’t become a everyday staple in my kitchen but I’ll try to make some bread with it once in a while.

  7. Hi! Loved the article on the nutritional benefits of einkorn and I would agree the gluten issues we have are because of our wheat supply and the added gluten flour. I also noticed you are a fellow Catholic blogger, which is nice to see. Although I was a little taken back because your post starts out with evolutionary jargan about us adapting to our did and the Catholic Church has always been anti evolutionary. And then further on you mention what that is 10,000 years old. The Church also teaches that thete were only 4000 years before Christ. This all left me confused about your position as a Catholic.

    1. Hi CeAnne,
      Thanks for the note – from what I understand, the Catholic Church has always taught that the Bible is to be read in context of history, not literally, which means that a lot of the numbers are figurative, not exact (likely including the six days of creation and other numbers that some think signify the age of the earth). I do not believe in atheistic evolution, that man arose from other creatures or without the hand of God. I do think it’s possible that science may be describing what the hand of God did over time. You can read more in this excellent Catholic Answers explanation: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/adam-eve-and-evolution and Pope Francis also underscored the relationship between science and faith: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/10/28/pope-francis-comments-on-evolution-and-the-catholic-church I am really careful to describe “adaptations” and never “evolved” when I discuss these subjects. Humans definitely adapt to their environments, like the increasing average height for example, and geographical differences in how people react to food, sunlight, etc. So I think I’m still on the same page as the Catholic Church – I surely try!! 🙂 Katie

  8. We’re really enjoying einkorn around here. I got the book when it first came out this summer and found it so helpful after trying to convert things on my own with not much luck. How long is the coupon code good for? I tried using it this morning and I’m getting a message that it’s not valid 🙁

  9. We’ve grown to really like Einkorn this past year. I have Carla’s book too and her Overnight Kefir Coffee Cake is REALLY good (and surprisingly easy to make!). We made it as-is the first time, then again with diced apples mixed w/cinnamon on top (just under the crumble) and the kids like that version best! The tips she includes on baking with Einkorn are super helpful, since as you mentioned, you can’t sub 1:1 in regular recipes.

  10. I’ve read that it is becoming an increasingly common practice for wheat farmers to spray their crop with Round-Up right before harvest with the purpose of loosening the seeds in the heads. I have only had problems with wheat for the last 5 years or so. These problems tend to be intermittent which makes me wonder if it has more to do with the herbicide contamination than it does the gluten.

      1. Actually organic may not b okay. Tropical traditions has pulled some of their grains due to glysophate contamination and will b testing all grain prior to selling. Seems the contamination maybe happening due to drift. It would very much explain the randomness of problems for some people.

  11. Interesting article. This theory was explored in the book “Wheat Belly”. I am thinking about trying this since I am gluten intolerant and like you, miss bread and other baked goods. I have baked gluten free but I’m never satisfied with the texture. Thank you for the information!

  12. Thank you so, so much for this, Katie! I had been experimenting with einkorn for a while, and had yet to come up with a loaf I was happy with. I stopped for a while because of this, but need to start again (perhaps with the aid of Carla’s cookbook) because it seems that one of our kids has a gluten sensitivity. There were several threads on einkorn going at one point – lots of wisdom coming from those who were also experimenting. One of my dreams is to own a small farm where we can grow einkorn. (We have been looking at land for a while.) So many people would benefit from it – and greater availability. Also of note: Jovial makes einkorn pastas!

    1. Ooops. Bad link. Try www.thefreshloaf.com – and do a search on “einkorn.” Lots of good stuff going on there.

    2. Yes, Jovial’s pasta is great IMO, Claire! I would love to hear if Carla’s bread recipes strike your fancy better than your previous experiments. The photos look AMAZING – I have got to make time for baking!! Thanks for that note about The Fresh Loaf. 🙂 Katie

  13. We’re long time users of Jovial’s einkorn pasta and LOVE it. Do you buy the flour from them or mill the einkorn berries yourself?

    I found that when I make our own bread, we eat SO SO SO much more of it. :-/ So I’ve stopped making my own bread for now, but we still make the occasional muffin and pancake. I’ve contemplated using einkorn when my current stash runs out.

    1. I have both used the flour and milled the grain- their flour is at least partially “white flour” NOT whole grain, so it’s totally different. LOL on the bread! I can totally see that happening. What if you sliced and froze it right away, like a barrier to entry b/c you have to get it out and toast it? LMK if you try einkorn and how it goes! 🙂 Katie

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