What is Farro?
Farro is a Mediterranean term for the original cereal grains that predate wheat. Ancestral grains are very different than wheat, aromatically, nutritionally, functionally, physically and agronomically. In German-speaking countries they are called Urgetreide, while in Spain they’re called Escanda.
Farro, also called emmer in some parts of the world, is a type of ancient wheat grain that has been eaten for thousands of years around the world. Now a days, you’re will mostly find farro (Triticum turgidum dicoccum) in many Mediterranean, Ethiopian or Middle Eastern restaurants, where it has a very long history. It was consumed by pharros in Egypt and also consumed widely in the Roman empire by all classes of people.
Emmer is by far the most common variety grown in Italy, in certain mountain regions of Tuscany and Abruzzo. It is also considered higher quality for cooking than the other two grains, and is sometimes called “true” farro. The other two in this group are spelt and einkorn.
Is Farro a Wheat?
Some people are reluctant to call Farro as wheat. They argue that calling Farro a type of wheat is wrong since modern wheat is totally different than the ancient variety of wheat grown both genetically as well as in the protein structure. Some prefer to call it Farro while others are ready compromise and call it a “Variety of wheat”.
Now this ancient grain is beginning to gain traction for its health benefits and ability to adapt to different recipes. In a similar vein as kamut or bulgur wheat, farro makes a good alternative grain addition to several dishes.
While it does contain gluten, it contains lower levels than today’s wheat, and if prepared properly, the gluten is pre-digested and broken down by sprouting and fermentation like a sourdough process. This makes it much more tolerable with anyone sensitive to gluten.
Nutrition in Farro
If you are not aware, whole grains are one of the most recommended food because of it overall nutrition content including various Vitamins, minerals and protein. Whole wheat is one such example of whole grain. However the problem with wheat is the presence of the special protein called gluten. Many people are allergic to gluten. In fact many scientists say that most people are allergic to gluten but many do not have obvious reactions hence they ignore the non painful reactions. Farro is a great whole grain.
1/4 cups of Farro contains 33 grams of carbs ( which includes 3 grams of fiber), 7 grams of protein and 0 grams of fat. Best part is 40 milligrams of calcium is present in 1/4 grams of Farro.
The other nutrients include 4 milligrams niacin, 60 milligrams magnesium (15 percent DV), 2 milligrams iron (10 percent DV), , 0.2 milligrams thiamine (10 percent DV) and 2 milligrams zinc (10 percent DV).
Why Farro is so healthy?
Modern wheats are mostly genetically changed and modified due to cross and re-cross and back-cross breeding. Wide usage of pesticides have also forced the genetical mutation to a large extent. In contrast, Farro grains come directly from nature.
The term is landrace, meaning that from the first farmers onward the naturally occurring Farro varieties (accessions) were selected in the field for propagation. As a matter of domestication, the first landrace selections were those who did not shatter as much as the wild grains do.
Without intensive breeding and forced mutation, the Farro grains do not contain some of the wheat proteins that are suspected of interfering with human health.
As you have seen above Farro contains many useful minerals and Vitamins which are vital for our well being and good health. Here are some health benefits of Farro.
Although it contains 33 grams of carbohydrates, the good news is it is mostly complex carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrates do not get digested fast hence not as harmful as processed flour. In fact Farro can be used in slow carb diets. Complex carbohydrates are helpful in reducing obesity and controlling blood sugar level.
Vitamin B Benefits
High quantity of Vitamin B helps in increase metabolic rate which helps in reducing obesity and improve brain and neurotransmitter functions. It also supports your central nervous system and keeps the energy levels high.
Magnesium, Zinc and Iron Benefits
Magnesium helps in improve heart function, regulating the blood pressure and improved digestion. It also helps in regulating the bowel movements. Iron in important mineral which helps in preventing anemia. Zinc improves brain function and also prevents cell degeneration as well as improving fertility and sperm count.
Good Source of Protein
Since 1/4 cup of Farro contains 7 grams of protein, that means that Farro is a good source of vegetarian protein. Protein helps in repairing and rebuilding muscles and tissues. People who do not take meats for proteins, need plant based proteins. Farro can be a good option for such people.
Is Farro Gluten Free
No Farro is not totally gluten free. Although Farro’s gluten is more easily digestible and and acceptable to our body, it cannot be considered as gluten free. Those with gluten allergy should not take Farro.
How It is Eaten
It is eaten in many forms like boiled and cooked like quinoa or rice. It is also added to soups, chillis and stew as well as salads. For salads, it is cooked and then added to salads along with veggies and other nuts.
It is also prepared as pillaf or pulav depending on where you live.
How to Distinguish between Farro and Wheat
Farro is lighter in color with some white spots on the grains shell. Some of the grains also have some white portion peeking out from the kernel.
Some More Information On Farro
Source – Source – http://www.freep.com/story/life/food/recipes/2017/01/07/spanish-farro-bake-recipe/96276840/
The health benefits of eating whole grains continue to make headlines. It turns out that people who consume more whole grains tend to have a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, digestive disorders such as diverticulosis and constipation, and some forms of cancer. Also, fiber-rich whole grains help provide a feeling of fullness that can help with weight management.
Researchers suspect the health benefits attributed to whole grains come from a combination of phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber they provide. One key recommendation promoted by the latest Dietary Guidelines is to make sure that half your grain choices throughout the day are whole grains. That means choosing whole-wheat bread rather than wheat or white bread, brown rice instead of white rice, and oatmeal over a sugary cereal.
With the growing focus on whole grains, chefs and health-conscious home cooks are experimenting with more unique grains like millet, bulgur wheat, quinoa, and farro, as featured in today’s recipe.
Farro (pronounced FAHR-oh), a type of wheat, is one of the earliest cultivated whole grains. Also referred to as emmer wheat, this grain has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and a chewy texture that’s similar to barley. Don’t confuse farro with spelt; they’re two different species of wheat. When cooked, spelt softens and becomes mushy, while farro retains its firm, slightly chewy texture.
Farro adopts the flavors of other foods, making it a great addition to chilled salads, hearty soups, stuffings, pilafs, and rice dishes. It’s a delicious, fiber-rich substitute for white rice in our Spanish Farro Bake.
Farro is sold whole, semi-pearled or pearled. Semi-pearled and pearled farro have the inedible hull removed, with some of the bran layer, and cook in about 20 minutes. While whole farro also has the hull removed, it must be soaked in water first and then cooked for 30 to 45 minutes. Before using any type of farro, always rinse and sort through the grains, discarding bits of chaff or tiny pebbles. Look for farro in the rice or international section of the grocery store.