Emmer History and Origin

Emmer is one of the grains in the farro family. It is a hulled wheat that was one of the earliest to be cultivated in the Near East region. In ancient history, it was very commonly grown, but, like a lot of the ancient grains, it is now mostly a relict crop (a crop that used to be extensively cultivated and is now limited to small amounts in very specific regions, in this case the mountainous areas of Europe and Asia).

Like many of the ancient grains, Emmer underwent a kind of rediscovery. In 1906, Aaron Aaronsohn discovered Emmer growing in Rosh Pina – a small town in northern Israel. It’s been found in ancient tombs, archaeological excavations, and biblical references. And it’s slowly having more of a presence in our modern world. It can be found growing in Armenia, Morocco, Spain, the Carpathian mountains, Albania, Turkey, Switzerland, Germany, Greece and Italy. It’s also getting a bit of a hold in the United States as a specialty crop.

In some areas, such as Italy, Emmer is more prevalent than in the United States. There, it can be found in supermarkets and bakeries. It is boiled, used in bread and whole grain soup, and served as risotto. Recently, it’s even hitting the pasta industry.

Emmer is a useful discovery not just for its nutritional value. It’s agricultural worth lies in its ability to thrive in poor soils. It also has a resistance to fungal diseases that are prevalent in wet regions. The hull makes it durable and easier to grow organically as well.


Brown, Jennifer. “Farro.” Jennifer Brown MSRD. Web. 19 Jan. 2015

Stallknecht, G.F, K.M. Gilbertson, and J.E Ranney. “Alternative Wheat Cereals as Food Grains: Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt, Kamut, and Triticale.”Alternative Wheat Cereals as Food Grains: Einkorn, Emmer, Spelt, Kamut, and Triticale. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.

“Triticum Turgidum Subsp. Dicoccon.”Germplasm Resources Information Network. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2015.

Photo Credit:

www.touregypt.net: Sculpture of bread maker from ancient Egypt where Emmer was the staple grain.

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