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I tend to see spelt on a lot of stuff in organic/diet-sensitive parts of stores, in big letters suggesting they're advertising its presence. I know that it has more nutrients than wheat, but are there any downsides (aside from it being more expensive)?

I've tried cooking a few things (pancakes) with only spelt flour and haven't noticed any difference. Are there things I should adjust when working with spelt?

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I don't think spelt contains as much gluten as traditional wheat, but I'm not an expert on this, or at least I have limited knowledge of flour products. –  spiceyokooko Jan 24 '13 at 17:17
    
Not all wheats are grown alike--that is, not all spelt has a higher nutritional content than wheat. Hard red spring wheat has more protein & fiber; Hard white wheat has a slightly better mineral profile. ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/… ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/… ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/… –  Fisher Jan 24 '13 at 19:50
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In many cases, wheat and spelt flour can be used in the same way, but as spiceyokooko already mentioned, spelt gluten is not as stable as wheat gluten, making it allegedly more difficult to make e.g. fluffy yeast doughs. I usually don't have any problems with that either, but you should be careful not to work the dough too hard or too long.

Dietary issues are often not solved by replacing wheat with spelt. The species are closely related and if a person is allergic to wheat, chances are high that he is allergic to spelt as well. Especially people with coeliac disease should not eat spelt.

When it comes to organic cultivation, spelt is more pest resistant than wheat, making it easier to grow without the use of pesticides. Spelt thrives better in harsher climates than wheat, is not so picky about the soil, but has a lower yield per area than wheat.

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Spelt is just one kind of wheat: Triticum Spelta. It's some sort of a ancient variety, which hasn't been genetically selected as other varieties that were more productive per surface unit. That made those other species being more cultivated, and evolved in being more productive, easier to husk off, or easier to make bread dough with them. It has survived till today in some areas the altitude of climate was too harsh for the other selected species.

That sense of "not evolutioned" is what gives spelt its characteristics of taste, not having the gluten we expect for making bread nowadays (or the quality of the gluten we expect), being less alergenic than other wheats (but it still is alergenic to celiacs, as it does have gluten), or being more naturally resistant to plagues.

The reasons for its price are fashion/diet/novelty, the fact it is less productive (less volume or mass per cultivated area), or the need of machines to remove the husk (in selected "modern" wheat it is easier to fall off).

If you find no difference, I'd recommend to eat just organic plain wheat.

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call it ancient rather than primitive. middle of Germany isn't too harsh for other wheat but their Dinkel (spelt) makes damn good beer as well as bread! economy of scale means modern wheat (not traditional)wins on price. Spelt does save on fossil fuels as fertilizer/pesticide is gen not required –  Pat Sommer Jan 25 '13 at 4:32
    
@PatSommer Thank you for the tip! –  J.A.I.L. Jan 25 '13 at 7:24
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