Is Farro Gluten-Free?

Healthy Farro Salad with Herbs

The ancient grains of three types of hulled wheat, farro is known for its health benefits. This article probes into farro’s gluten content, alternatives, and more.

Farro is a nutrient-rich grain considered a healthy alternative to many grains. But is farro gluten free?

Below, we explore this grain’s gluten contents and provide tips on purchasing farro and finding its alternatives on the market.

Is farro gluten free?

The direct answer is no. Farro is a type of wheat, and therefore it does contain gluten.

Gluten is what gives bread its chewy texture and helps it to rise when baking. For people with celiac disease, this protein can cause serious health problems.

This means that farro should be avoided by those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and those on a gluten-free diet.

What is farro?

Well, it can be confusing to understand the term “farro,” as the grain is referred to in different ways, including emmer wheat, Pharaoh’s wheat, and hulled wheat.

The word ‘farro’ is used to describe three different wheat grains, spelt, emmer and einkorn.

This grain originated in the Middle East and North Africa and has been a staple in the Mediterranean [1]Beyond Celiac: Is Farro Gluten-Free? and Italian diets [2]Bioversity International: Farro in Italy for centuries.

Farro is higher in protein and fiber than modern types of wheat. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, and zinc.

It is available in three forms- whole grain, semi-pearled, and pearled. The pearled form is the most common type found in stores.

Nutritional value of farro

According to USDA [3]U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: FoodData Central Search Results, this farro is rich in minerals and nutrients. The table below shows a split-up of the nutritional value of farro (serving size – 100 grams).

Iron4.5 mg
Energy375 kcal
Protein12.5 g
Sodium0 mg
Calcium0 mg
Cholesterol0 mg
Total lipid (fat)2.5 g
Fiber, total dietary7.5 g
Fatty acids, total trans0 g
Fatty acids, total saturated0 g
Carbohydrate, by difference72.5 g
Sugars, total including NLEA2.5 g

How is farro different from modern wheat?

Farro is an ancient grain, and as such, it is different from the wheat we eat today. 

Modern wheat has been bred to be better for baking bread. It has also been hybridized to be higher in yield and to resist diseases better. 

Below are some key ways in which farro is different from modern wheat:

Milling

The main difference between farro and other types of wheat is the way it is milled.

Farro is milled in a way that preserves the germ and bran, while modern-day wheat is milled to remove these parts. This means that farro is a whole grain, while other wheat products may not be.

Flour

When compared to wheat flour, farro produces flour with a heavier and coarser texture. It is also denser brown in color than modern-day wheat flour.

Nutrition

Whole grains are generally higher in fiber and nutrients than their refined counterparts. They also tend to be more filling and have a lower glycemic index, which means they don’t cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

For this reason, farro is a good choice for people trying to lose weight or manage diabetes [4]Mayo Clinic: Mayo Clinic Minute: Discover the health benefits of farro.

Gluten Content

A comparative study [5]National Library of Medicine: Comparative Study on Gluten Protein Composition of Ancient (Einkorn, Emmer and Spelt) and Modern Wheat Species (Durum and Common Wheat) on modern wheat and ancient wheat showed that ancient wheat is higher in gluten than modern wheat. 

However, some studies suggest that hybridization [6]PubMed: Gluten and wheat intolerance today: are modern wheat strains involved? or cross-breeding of wheat has resulted in to change in the gluten structure of modern-day wheat, resulting in increased gluten content found in modern-day wheat. This might make it mildly tolerable for some people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Cooking time

Farro requires more cooking time than modern wheat does. Here is how much time pearled and whole grain farro take to cook:

  • The cooking time required for pearled farro is about 15-20 minutes, Semi-pearled farro takes about 20-30 minutes, and whole farro takes approximately 40-50 minutes when simmered in water.
  • Soft wheat berries(whole wheat grains) take 25-to 40 minutes, and hard wheat berries take approximately 40 minutes to cook when simmered in water.

Farro recipe

Here is a delicious and nutritious recipe for farro that you can try at home:

Farro mix veggie stir fry

Ingredients:

1 cup farro

2 cups water

1 vegetable bouillon cube

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 carrot, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

1. In a large pot, bring the farro, water, bouillon cube, and salt to a boil.

2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the farro is tender.

3. Drain any excess water and set the farro aside.

4. In the same pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

5. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, zucchini, yellow squash, and black pepper.

6. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

7. Stir in the cooked farro and parsley.

8. Serve with the Parmesan cheese.

Points to consider when buying farro

Purchasing and storing farro is similar to other grains. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Purchasing and storage

  • When purchasing farro, look for products that are labeled “100% whole grain” or “whole grain.”
  • If the label does not specify, the farro has likely been refined, and the nutritional value will be lower.
  • Store farro in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. It will keep for up to 6 months.

Types/categories available

  • Whole-grain farro (whole berry farro) includes the bran, germ, and endosperm. It is high in protein and needs to be soaked overnight before cooking.
  • Pearled farro (Perlato), the outer layer of the bran, is removed and thus contains less fiber and nutrients. Moreover, it cooks faster.
  • Semi-pearled farro (Semiperlato), the outer layer of the bran, is partially removed. It takes less time to cook and is slightly higher in fiber than pearled farro.

Labels of the product

  • As farro looks similar to brown rice, make sure to check the label to ensure you are purchasing the correct product.
  • For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there is no gluten-free farro.

Gluten-free substitutes of farro

There are many gluten-free alternatives to farro available in the market. Some of the most popular substitutes include quinoa, rice, and buckwheat. These substitutes can be used in any recipe that calls for farro.

Quinoa is a good option if you are looking for a substitute similar in texture and taste to farro. Rice and buckwheat are good substitutes but have different flavors and textures.

Before choosing a substitute, you must consider your specific needs and preferences. If you are looking for a gluten-free alternative to farro, be sure to check the label of the product to make sure it is truly gluten-free.

Conclusion

Ancient grains like farro are definitely not gluten-free. As such, people with a gluten allergy or those on a strict gluten-free diet should keep away from farro. Since many gluten-free grains are available,  one can always choose the next best substitute on the market.

Similar Posts