Some Added Notes On Grains

A funny thing happened on the way to Christmas Dinner…

I fell off the Keto Wagon for a little while and gained 2 pounds. Not bad, really, for the holiday feasting.

Along the way, I tried some Rolled Rye and Rolled Barley. I’ve come to like the Rolled Barley rather a lot, and the Rolled Rye is a much milder flavour than I’d expected. A bit course texture in that the surface of the gains is rough, but not bad.

So I’ve been cooking it in the Thermos. Heat for about 2 minutes at the simmer, pour it into the thermos, come back in 10 to 15 minutes. Nice. Dump it in a bowl, pat of butter and maybe a bit of sugar & milk.


The Barley is a very filling meal all by itself, even for just 1/3 cup dry. With 2/3 cups water, you end up at about a cup, all told, and with the added butter the calories are quite satisfying.

So that sent me off looking at various grains. On my “someday” list is to grow some grain and see what I think of the whole process. Well, as far as I knew, barley came in ONE kind. The vaguely slightly beige stuff in the grocery store. Well, no.

Turns out there’s a lot of different kinds. 2 row and 6 row. Spring and Winter. Tight hulls or “hulless” that really means lose hulls that fall off when harvested. Then various colours including black and purple. After a lot of digging around, I’ve decided to get a hulless purple type grown on the West Coast (so likely suited to my climate). It will likely end up being trialed long after I’m in Florida, though…

Purple Valley Barley

Purple Valley Barley

Several other places claim to sell purple barley, but show brown or reddish images. So no real idea if their products are really purple. I have a “thing” for purple plants. Just like the look of them, even if most of them end up grey after cooking as the anthocyanins breakdown.

Barley, Purple Valley (Organic)
Hordeum vulgare.

Great in soups, whole grain salads, or try as a substitute for arborio rice in risotto. Purple Valley barley is hulless, meaning that the hull falls off naturally during harvest ensuring the bran and germ remain. The result is edible, whole grain barley. We recommend lightly toasting barley in a dry pan until it begins to pop or smell like toast. Then cook just like brown rice. You end up with a fairly firm texture with a delightful rich nutty flavor. This variety is 6 row, and is less prone to lodging than Tibetan and other purple hulless barleys, which it may have been selected from. Best sown in spring. After many years of selection here in the Willamette Valley, this variety was evaluated by Pat Hayes, barley breeder at Oregon State University. He suggested changing the name to Purple Valley to differentiate it from Purple Prairie and other purple barley varieties. Aka, Purple Hulless Improved.

Seed produced by Lonesome Whistle Farm in Junction City, Oregon.

I want hulless so I don’t need to grind off the hulls. A spring variety is likely to work best in warmer climates. The 6 row will yield well and IIRC the 2 row is more often used for fermenting anyway.

 	1 oz ≈ 700 seeds ($3.50)
	4 oz ($5.50)
	1 lb ($8.00)
	5 lbs ($35.00)

I’m most likely to order the 1 lb lot of it.

Shiloh Farms has a purple barley too but the picture looks brown (despite the package clearly stating purple) and it is $7 / pound.

Mostly, though, I’ll just be buying rolled barley at the local Smart & Final for about 90 &cent / pound…

Comments on the Black Barley (on Amazon) were mixed with some folks liking the flavour and other folks saying they tossed it. The impression is that Black Barley has a strong somewhat bitter overtone to the flavor, where purple is claimed to be milder, and more interesting.


It grows well in poor soil in cold wet places, but is prone to various diseases like ergot (mold) that can give you an LSD like trip and / or make your extremities fall off…

While I kind of like the flavour of the rolled rye, I’m unlikely to buy a lot more of it as long as Barley is around, and I’m not seeing the upside to trying to grow any. I’m also not that keen on rye breads. I’ve made them, but there’s a slightly soapy quality to rye in bread (not in the cooked flakes / groats though).

I like Triticale, a wheat / rye hybrid more, but it has become hard to find in California. It looks like most of the development and use of it is in Canada and Russia now, with much of it going to cattle feed. Oh Well.


I was surprised at the complexity of Wheat Genetics and the various varieties. This is not made easier by the tendency to use a lot of “proprietary” names that overlap with the actual name that has 3 or 4 “scientific / botanical” names as the academics can’t decide on what classification system to use. Now you can have 2 or 3 Latin names in a row for one variety, then you get 2 or three of those to list the variations based on classification scheme used. So sometimes it’s 6 to 8 Latin words in a row just to get some idea what name it might be. Sigh. Not helping.

Note too that wheat comes in Spring and Winter types, hulless and hulled, and in a few colours (red, white, etc.)

So here’s my thumbnail sketch of it.

Wheat comes in 3 genetic clusters. 14 chromosomes (diploid), 28 chromosomes (tetraploid) and 42 chromosomes (hexaploid).


These are the oldest wheats and the purest types. Einkorn is the exemplar. There’s a letter designation for the kind of gluten formed to indicate the ancestral source / type. Einkorn is A (which comes in a few sub-types that I’m going to gloss over). This doesn’t work really well for bread, but also doesn’t mess with peoples guts as much as “modern” wheat that picked up a Goatgrass gene set and has a different gluten as a result.

Einkorn has small seeds, is resistant to most diseases, and grows well in poor soils. I can get it at Whole Foods for about $6.50 / lb.


Here we get Emmer Wheat that’s also often called “Faro” (but other kinds can also be called faro so that name is NOT definitive). Emmer was selling for $3 / lb at Whole Foods.

Also in this group is Durum, widely grown for pasta use and very similar to Emmer. (And undoubtedly a lot cheaper if I can find it being sold somewhere).

Medium grain size, high protein content, and an AB set of genes with a gluten that doesn’t bother many people, but still a bit risky for some. I had a bowl of “Faro” that I’m pretty sure was Emmer and it was nice, with zero gastro issues for me.

In this group also are English Wheat (Rivet, cone), Polish, Khorasan, and Kamut (a trademark name for a kind of Khorosan). Khorosan is sold at Whole Foods for $6.50 / pound, so you need not pay up for the Kamut brand name. Khorosan is a BIG kernel with high protein content (so tends to break in milling if not careful). I’ve not tried it yet, but will in the future. There’s also a Persian type in this group, and then another group I’ve not heard of before not seen in any store (timopheevi). With Emmer running 1/2 the price of Khorosan, and similar AB genetic type, I’m likely to stick with Emmer unless something in the trial of it causes a big win.

I was very surprised at how much difference there was in size and appearance of Emmer vs Kahorosan. Most likely, for some folks, the AB type gluten will be a better health choice as it does not have the peptide sequence that messes with your guts so much. (Per something I read that I can’t find to cite right now).


These are the “modern” hexaploid wheats with the goatgrass D genetics added and the gluten that’s most likely to cause folks issues. (Hit the Taxonomy link above for more). Spelt is in this group, despite being an older wheat type, so it likely ought to be treated like the modern wheats. This is also where you get the best gluten for bread making…

You can make bread from Emmer or Einkorn, but with less water, less kneading, and likely more experimenting. There are recipes on line if you search for them.

I don’t particularly have any gluten problems, but the idea of the “modern” gluten messing with the tight junctions of the gut does not please me. (It is a zonulin analogue and I’m happy to learn a different way to make bread to avoid that).

So my goal here is basically going to be trying out Emmer Wheat (or perhaps Duram if I find it as flour in the grocery store) in making various things including bread. Also, despite it being much more expensive, I’ll be trying some of the Einkorn and Khorosan to see how they do too.

I’m going to be avoiding the hexaploid “modern” wheats for a while just to see if it makes any real difference. (It ought to).

Gliadin (part of gluten) is the active agent in messing with the zonulin receptors, so a bit more work is needed to figure out just which wheat has the least gliadin in it, and does it come in varieties of gliadin?

From the taxonomy link (I’ve added a type name in bold):

The genetic approach to wheat taxonomy (see below) takes the genome composition as defining each species. As there are five known combinations in Triticum this translates into five super species:

    Am T. monococcum   Einkorn
    Au T. urartu
    BAu T. turgidum    Emmer, Durum, Khorosan
    GAm T. timopheevi
    BAuD, T. aestivum  "Modern" Bread, Spelt

So 5 known, but only 3 that really matter to folks buying stuff in the grocery in modern America.

Gliadin (a type of prolamin) is a class of proteins present in wheat and several other cereals within the grass genus Triticum. Gliadins, which are a component of gluten, are essential for giving bread the ability to rise properly during baking. Gliadins and glutenins are the two main components of the gluten fraction of the wheat seed. This gluten is found in products such as wheat flour. Gluten is split about evenly between the gliadins and glutenins, although there are variations found in different sources.

Gliadin is the water-insoluble component of gluten, and glutenin is water-soluble. There are three main types of gliadin (α, γ, and ω), to which the body is intolerant in coeliac (or celiac) disease. Diagnosis of this disease has recently been improving.

Gliadin can cross the intestinal epithelium. Breast milk of healthy human mothers who eat gluten-containing foods presents high levels of non-degraded gliadin.

The α, γ, and ω gliadin types are separated and distinguished based on their amino acid sequences.

    α-/β-gliadins – soluble in low-percentage alcohols.
    γ-gliadins – ancestral form of cysteine-rich gliadin with only intrachain disulfide bridges
    ω-gliadins – soluble in higher percentages, 30–50% acidic acetonitrile.

So the key bit here is that Gliadin comes in types, that vary by source. So I’d suggest that the different wheats will have different types and amounts. Then, that it is important for bread rising right strongly implies there’s a lot more of a particular kind in “modern” bread wheat and likely not so much or a less active sort in Einkorn or Emmer / Durum / Khororsan wheat.

I’d speculate that it’s the D genetic wheat type that’s the biggest issue / most active.

Again a bit of a “Dig Here!” for working out the details. (Something I’ll keep digging at after this overview is posted).

But that’s the “big lumps”. WHY Einkorn and Emmer may be easier on some folks metabolism and / or let them feel better. How to know what to try. What all those different names really mean, and that Khorosan and Kamut are mostly the same but for some branding, and emmer is a first cousin of Durum, and why noodles made with it are likely not as much of an issue as bread. Note that “Semolina” is Durum wheat middlings, so a particular milled state of Durum wheat.

In Conclusion

There are several other grains that I’m not covering. Oats, corn, rice, millet, sorghum, teff and some others. Rice comes in a huge number of types, and both millet and sorghum have variations as well. But it is wheat, rye, and barley that are of similar form of growth and use in the western diet. So I’m putting them in one place. Also since rice, millet, sorghum and others have NO gluten at all, and oats have a very different form of it, they are unlikely to be an issue with the zonulin receptor in any case.

It is the way that wheat genetics might cause variations in gut metabolism and your immune responses making trouble that makes this set of notes useful. As a guide to just which wheat is a in what group and why that might make a difference.

Basically, I already know I’ve got no problems at all eating oats and rice or millet and sorghum in fairly large quantities. Millet can do things to your iodine metabolism and thyroid, so ought to be used in limited amounts, but few people eat this daily and by the bowl outside of Africa.

So I was mostly interested in sorting out all “those funny wheat names” and finding out which ones were really genetically different. Now I know, and I know where I can get them. I also know that I really like cooked barley and it has a very nice energizing effect without the blood sugar spike of “fluffy white bread” stuff or a bowl of white rice. All that fibre throughout the grain, I think.

So in the next week or two I’ll be making a run to Whole Foods for a bag each of Einkorn, Emmer, and Khorosan. Then we’ll see if they make any real difference in the bowl.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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7 Responses to Some Added Notes On Grains

  1. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    Interesting information, thanks.

    Millet can do things to your iodine metabolism
    Low thyroid function is a common issue, so I wondered
    Who? Where, and Why?

    From Wklipedia:

    Millets are important crops in the semiarid tropics of Asia and Africa (especially in India, Mali, Nigeria, and Niger), with 97% of millet production in developing countries.[2] The crop is favored due to its productivity and short growing season under dry, high-temperature conditions.

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Nice storm down in CA. We got a dusting of snow in the northwest, so newly white. That’s it for this year, I think.

  2. H.R. says:

    Now you’ve gone and done it, E,M.

    One thing always leads to another. After the Purple Barley shows up, you’re going to have to get a mule for plowing, right? I don’t think you can justify a tractor on your size lot.

    I know Mrs. E.M. doesn’t interfere much with your hobbies, but there does come a point where she’ll say, “Enough!” I’m guessing the mule might be that point.

    That purple barley sounds interesting. I wonder how much flavor differential there is among the different varieties? I know beans have a lot of difference in taste, depending on the beans, and there are a lot of different beans.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    As the plot will be very small, and I have a dachshund, I figure I can just weld up a plough and make a tiny little harness for it…


    Realistically, I expect it will be one tub about 4 square feet…. all done by me, no mule required.

    Though I see that both you (with beans) and Taz (potatoes) are encouraging my tendency to explore variations to the limit….

    @Nancy & John H:

    Antithyroid and goitrogenic effects of millet: role of C-glycosylflavones.
    Gaitan E1, Lindsay RH, Reichert RD, Ingbar SH, Cooksey RC, Legan J, Meydrech EF, Hill J, Kubota K.
    Author information
    University of Mississippi Medical School, Jackson.
    Pearl millet [Pennisetum millet (L.) leeke] is the main source of food energy for the rural poor in many areas of the semiarid tropics. Epidemiological evidence suggests that millet may play a role in the genesis of endemic goiter in these areas, and sparse experimental data in rats support this suspicion. This study was undertaken to determine in vivo in rats and in vitro using porcine thyroid slices and a thyroid peroxidase (TPO) assay the goitrogenic and antithyroid effects of millet diets, extracts of millet, and certain pure compounds contained therein. For use in these studies, whole grain millet was progressively dehulled to yield successively four bran and four flour fractions in which direct analyses revealed progressively lower concentrations of C-glycosylflavones. In vivo feeding of bran fraction 1, that richest in C-glycosylflavones, led to a significant increase in thyroid weight and antithyroid effects. Feeding of bran fraction 2, the next richest in C-glycosylflavones, produced similar, but less marked, changes. In vitro studies of 125I metabolism using porcine thyroid slices indicated that extracts of bran fractions 1 and 2 were most potent, producing changes similar to those produced by methimazole (MMI). At a concentration of 60 mumol/L, glucosylvitexin, the major C-glycosylflavone present in millet, had effects comparable to those of 1 mumol/L MMI. Similarly, in studies of porcine TPO, extracts of bran fraction 1 caused pronounced (85%) inhibition of enzyme activity, and progressively less inhibition was induced by extracts of bran fractions 2, 3, and 4. Overall, the TPO-inhibiting activities of the various millet fractions closely correlated with their C-glycosylflavone concentrations. Three C-glycosylflavones present concentrations. Three C-glycosylflavones present in millet, glucosylvitexin, glycosylorientin, and vitexin, also inhibited TPO activity. Thus, in vivo and in vitro studies revealed that millet diets rich in C-glycosylflavones produce goitrogenic and antithyroid effects similar to those of certain other antithyroid agents and small doses of MMI. We conclude that in areas of iodine deficiency in which millet is a major component of the diet, its ingestion may contribute to the genesis of endemic goiter.

    So just don’t eat it as your main grain and keep your iodine level up…

  4. pouncer says:

    ” I was surprised at the complexity of Wheat Genetics and the various varieties. ”


    I mention that only to emphasize that “genetically modified” grains have been around a long long time — and if we are lucky enough to have a future we are likely to keep on experimenting with similar hybrids. We may need to invent a new term for the results of experiments that, unlike hyBRIDs, aren’t actually BRED.

  5. Power Grab says:

    I thought quadrotriticale only existed in the Star Trek (1st gen) episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”.


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