Einkorn History and Origin

Let’s take a look at the most ancient wheat there is.


Einkorn, also called Farro Piccolo, is known as “nature’s original wheat.” In a world where wheat digestion is an ever present problem, it’s worth a look at for its digestive benefits and nutrient density, not to mention its amazing flavor!


Einkorn most likely originated in the Near East region known as the Fertile Crescent. This productive stretch of land boasts (not exclusively) the beginnings of many useful things, such as the wheel, glass, writing, irrigation, and…the cultivation of Einkorn!


However, the presence of Einkorn waned into relative nonexistence until September of 1991 when Helmut and Erika Simon decided to go for a little hike in the Italian Alps.


These two hikers discovered a body sticking out of a melting glacier. Talk about startling!


That body later became known as Otzi the iceman. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Maybe not. His body, along with the last thing he ate, was preserved in ice for over 5,000 years. What do you think was present in Otzi’s last meal? You guessed it! Einkorn. It was clearly a staple in the region where Otzi came from. In other words, Einkorn has traveled a long way to be with us today.


Einkorn HO
Otzi the Iceman


Due to its slip into obscurity, Einkorn escaped the tampering that many other grains went through. As a result, it is the only type of wheat that has never been hybridized (“crossing two genetically different individuals to result in a third individual with a different set of traits”) and still only has two sets of chromosomes.


In non-scientific language, that means that it’s as pure as it was 12,000 years ago! The difference between Einkorn and regular wheat is in more than the digestion and nutrition; it’s clearly visible. Einkorn grains are smaller than wheat we use today and they are lacking some of the physical properties of modern wheat, such as the crease on the side.


Why does that matter?


Humans originally started using forced hybridization to alter grains in order attain certain desirable characteristics. More gluten, higher yield, easier to harvest, etc. More gluten was especially sought after because it made for lighter, nicer baked goods. It worked really well until all this gluten–intolerance started surfacing.


Now, gluten-intolerant folks and health-food seekers are searching for a return to wholesomeness in our food. Considering that Einkorn has only been in our modern-day hands for the last 22 years, I’d say it’s pretty wholesome, and the research agrees.


Other names for Einkorn include:

  • triticum monococcum (botanical)
  • farro piccolo (Italy)
  • engrain (French)
  • Le petit épautre (French)
  • sifon (Hebrew)

10 thoughts on “Einkorn History and Origin”

  1. is your einkorn grown in the USA? if yes, i’d like to know something about the farmers who raise it. thank you, Happy New Year!

  2. This is a good, quick article on Einkorn. Just the way I like them. I’ve been using Einkorn exclusively for about a year now and recently added Spelt and Kamut to the ancient grains I am working with. We even purchased a grain mill! So glad to have found US farms growing and distributing these highly nutritious ancient grains! Thanks Grand Teton!

  3. Einkorn wheat grains were recently identified in grinding bowls / dishes at and near the archeological site Gobekli Tepe in south east Turkey. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is dated to 12,000 BC. See the 22 June 2021 issue of Nature Magazine for the article – or just google “Gobekli Tepe Einkorn Wheat”. Certainly gives a whole new meaning to “Ancient Grains” !!
    Both my sister and I LOVE this whole wheat flour and use it regularly, makes incredible bread.

    1. Grand Teton Ancient Grains

      Hi Gary, the gluten in einkorn is very different, but it still does what gluten does in that it is responsible for the rise, but generally you will not get as much of a rise with einkorn as you will with modern wheat.

  4. Hi. Do you know if the einkorn grown in Italy is grown similar to the way grown in the states and Canada?

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