Farro is the oldest cultivated grain in the world. Extremely popular in the Middle East during biblical times, farro is able to grow in poor soil conditions and is naturally resistant to fungus. Farro has lost popularity during modern times because it is a low yielding wheat compared to other varieties. Farro is a distinct cousin of modern wheat and is very similar in texture and taste to spelt.
Despite this, farro is still grown, both wild and cultivated. It is a popular food in Italy, parts of Europe, Asia and parts of the Middle East. When farro is harvested, it is divided into three grades, long, medium and cracked. The grain looks like a plump barley grain. Most people advise that you purchase whole grain farro and crack it yourself in a blender or coffee grinder to maintain freshness.
What Is the Nutritional Value of Farro?
Farro is a whole grain that is an excellent source for complex carbohydrates. Additionally, farro has twice the fiber and protein than modern wheat. Different than some other whole grains, a carbohydrate in farro called cyanogenic glucosides has been found to stimulate the immune system, lower cholesterol and help maintain blood sugar levels. While farro does contain gluten, the gluten molecules are weaker than modern wheat, making it more easily digested. Below are more detailed facts regarding farro’s nutritional value:
Per ½ cup raw farro:
- 170 calories
- 1.5 g of fat
- 0 g saturated fat
- 0 mg of sodium
- 34 g of carbohydrates
- 5 g of dietary fiber
- 2 mg of iron
- 6 g of protein
- 4 mg of niacin
- 60 mg of magnesium
- 2 mg zinc
In addition to minerals and vitamins, farro is rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, lignans and betaine. Betaine, when combined with choline, has been shown to prevent or reduce stress-included inflammation, which can be beneficial for individuals suffering from certain medical conditions.
How Can You Cook Farro?
To consume farro, you must first soak the grain. Farro has a chewy, firm texture. Simply boil the grain in a 2:1 ratio of water to farro. Simmer covered for 25 to 35 minutes. Drain any unabsorbed liquid.
In Italy, the most common way to eat farro is by adding it to soup. Farro can be served al dente in salads for a nutty texture. Farro can also be used to make pasta and bread. Additionally, Farro can be interchanged in recipes calling for barley, spelt and quinoa.
Where Can You Buy Farro
Farro can be purchased at many health food stores or a well-stocked Italian delicatessen.
In recent years, especially throughout Europe and at high-end restaurants, farro has taken on a new popularity. Next time you are out to eat, look for this healthy grain on the menu or plan to begin cooking with it yourself for an extremely nutritional whole grain option.