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A recently completed study shows that einkorn and emmer wheat from NordGen's collection are well suited for bread baking. The old wheat species also had higher protein content than in ordinary quality wheat that is usually used for baking.

In a recently finished project, NordGen's collection of einkorn wheat and emmer wheat was studied in detail. The study shows, among other things, that the old wheat species have good baking properties and higher protein content than in ordinary quality wheat. The next step will hopefully be a follow-up study with taste tests of sourdough bread baked on einkorn and emmer wheat from the Nordic seed collection.

The interest in artisanal bread baking is great today. Hobby bakers mill their own flour to make the perfect sourdough bread and in the cities there are often several craft bakeries that sell exclusive bread baked on a variety of types of flour. The development has contributed to an increase in the popularity of the older wheat species also increasing. This is the background to the project “For a Richer Cultivation Landscape; Studies of Agronomical-, Quality- and Baking Properties of Einkorn and Emmer Wheat from the NordGen Collection.” The project was initiated by NordGen, which together with its partner Lantmännen applied for funding from the European agricultural fund for rural development to implement the project. Lantmännen Lantbruk has also contributed to the financing of the project.   – Einkorn and emmer wheat were grown together with spelt during the Stone Age and Iron Age in the Nordic countries. We wanted to study cultivation, grain quality and baking properties in NordGen's collection of einkorn and emmer to be able to give recommendations to interested farmers and artisan bakers, says Jan T Svensson, NordGen's cereals expert and lead author of the recently completed project report (in Swedish).

Good results despite drought

In NordGen's collection of cereals, there are 70 accessions (seed samples) of einkorn wheat and 26 accessions of emmer wheat. Within the framework of the project, 69 accessions were sown in 2018 at Lantmännen's field in Svalöv, Sweden. The harvest that year was lower than expected because the growing season was characterized by prolonged drought with higher temperatures than normal. But the cultivation experiment still showed good quality results, for example when it comes to high falling numbers. – What stood out was above all the high protein levels. Quality wheat must have a protein content above 12 percent. The einkorn varieties ranged from 16 to 19.9 percent and for emmer the levels were 12.9 to 18.3 percent, which are high values, says Svensson. – The accessions studied may also be suitable for making pasta, but this would require more tests. Durum wheat, which is used for pasta production, has a high protein value, but the suitability also depends on the quality of the protein, Svensson continues.

Successful baking test

In 2019, the cultivation trials continued when four accessions of einkorn and four of emmer wheat were cultivated. After studies of different quality parameters, two einkorn and two emmer were selected for use in baking tests. Commercial baking wheat flour was mixed with 50 percent sample flour for baking buns according to a laboratory protocol.   In terms of bread shape, appearance and porosity, the test buns did well. What differed compared to bread on a regular flour mixture was the elasticity which was a little bit disadvantageous and some test breads had a tendency to float out slightly. But overall, the study showed promising baking properties for the einkorn and emmer wheat. – We would like the project to be followed up and it would be interesting to try different amounts of sample flour and test sourdough baking because that is where the greatest market potential is. If there is a continuation of the project, a sensory test panel will assess properties such as taste, smell and chewing resistance in the breads, says Svensson. Therefore, NordGen is now cultivating the current accessions in a larger scale, partly to make small quantities available in the web shop 2022, but also to be able to cultivate the volume required next year that enables more baking tests.