I have been baking with Kamut® flour for quite a few years now, and often get the question, “what is Kamut®?” Many people, especially those outside of the Northwest, have never heard of it. It’s a fair question, but let’s back up a bit first.
What is Khorasan Wheat?
Khorasan is an ancient wheat variety. It originally grew in the fertile crescent region, moving on to Egypt at some point. Like many other ancient wheat varieties, khorasan has a high protein content but a fairly low gluten content. Khorasan is related to modern durum wheat and shares the same yellow hue.
What is Kamut®?
Kamut® is a brand (the only brand as far as I know) of khorasan wheat. Kamut® is grown in Montana and the wheat growing regions of Canada. The story – and I have read many versions of this story – is that an airman somehow acquired a handful of khorasan grains during WWII and sent them home to his wheat farmer father. We do know that at a later date, Bob Quinn started studying the grains. It was Mr. Quinn who nurtured Kamut® along until we masses were collectively smart enough to take notice!
Kamut® combines the best of many worlds; it is organically grown, it is a whole grain, as with other wheat varieties it can be made into flour, pasta, flakes, or berries. Kamut® has a soft texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. It is not as bitter or harsh as our more modern whole wheat. If fact, one study showed that 70% of those who are sensitive to modern wheat can better tolerate Kamut®. NOTE: A wheat insensitivity is not the same thing as a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance. If you are truly allergic to wheat you will also be allergic to Kamut® as it is a wheat variety. If you are gluten intolerant, you will not be able to eat Kamut® as it contains gluten.
A wheat sensitivity usually shows up as a digestive issue. If you have trouble digesting whole wheat products, you may be able to better tolerate Kamut® products according to this research. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse here, but in today’s litigious and over-reactive society I want to make sure everyone understands the difference. Allergic to wheat? Don’t eat Kamut®. Gluten intolerant or celiac? Don’t eat Kamut®. Whole wheat bread give you a bellyache? Kamut® products may be easier for you to digest.
In fact, Kamut® may be healthier than other whole wheat in other ways too. A small Italian study showed that people who ate Kamut® products had lower cholesterol and inflammation levels. They also determined that these results were from more than the fiber content of Kamut® since the control products contained a similar amount of fiber. So, a whole grain that is organic, easier to digest, high in protein and healthier than most whole wheat? Sign me up!
What Can I Make From Kamut®?
I personally use Kamut® flour often when making bread, crackers, and even sweet dough. Because Kamut® has a low gluten content, I usually combine it with unbleached all-purpose flour for structure. Adding Kamut® increases the protein and fiber content of my baked goods. But, unlike other whole grains, e.g.whole wheat, rye, or triticale, Kamut® add a soft, nutty flavor not a hard bitter taste. This makes Kamut® perfect for muffins or pancakes or even cakes. I will be listing some Kamut® recipes here later this week, so sign up for our newsletter or blog (or both!) to receive them.
Where Can I Find Kamut®?
Kamut® flour, berries, and other products can often be found at your local natural foods or health food store. Bob’s Red Mill® carries Kamut® cereal, flour and berries. Arrowhead Mills makes puffed Kamut® that can be used just like puffed rice. Eden® Organic makes Kamut® pasta. If you can’t find these products locally, they can be found at Amazon.com.