Spelt is dramatically more expensive than wheat owing to the more labour-intensive preparation required (it has a tougher husk) and the as-yet limited demand.
Canadian researchers have been working since 1996 on a variety of spelt that can produce breads similar in loaf volume to wheat breads.
Higher in fibre than normal wheat;
- more protein than wheat
- higher than wheat in complex B vitamins and simple and complex carbohydrates
Some find spelt gluten easier to digest because while modern wheat has been developed to have a higher gluten content for high-volume bread, spelt was ignored. Consequently, the gluten in spelt is more fragile, making it easier to digest. Allergy tests with a doctor could help to determine whether spelt gluten can be tolerated by someone with a gluten allergy. In general, though, persons with celiac disease should avoid spelt as they do wheat.
Spelt was grown by farmers as early as 5,000 BC, making it one of the three oldest cultivated grains (the other two being Emmer and Elkorn). The majority of the evidence points to its originating in what is now Iran. By 1,000 BC, it was being grown throughout the Middle East and the Balkans. It is mentioned several times in the Bible (translated differently in different places.) In the early empire, Romans grew and ate spelt, but it fell out of popularity as wheat became available.
St. Hildegard said about spelt: “The Spelt is the best of grains. It is rich and nourishing and milder than other grain. It produces a strong body and healthy blood to those who eat it and it makes the spirit of man light and cheerful. If someone is ill boil some spelt, mix it with egg and this will heal him like a fine ointment.”