The Story of Freekeh

The ancient grain freekeh is fire roasted green wheat with a smoky and nutty flavor.

Have you ever looked into the history or background of different ingredients? There are some interesting stories—the kind of stories your customers like to hear and that add value to a brand.

Like the ancient grain freekeh.

Freekeh is fire roasted green wheat with a smoky and nutty flavor. It dates back to 2300 B.C. Levantine people regarded it as a staple in grain-based recipes.

Freekeh is harvested in early spring when stores of grain from the previous season may have been used up. The early harvest means less water is used to grow the plant and weeds have less time to grow. It also locks in nutrients like protein and fiber. But the reason this spring offering continues to be harvested and roasted today? Freekeh is delicious.

Anecdotally, freekeh came about after an Eastern Mediterranean city was set on fire and their wheat crops were burned. In an attempt to salvage their crops and avoid starvation, they discovered that rubbing the burnt hulls left behind a robust tasting grain. The term freekeh means “rubbed” in Arabic.

What about baking with it?

Today, it offers some interesting aspects to baked goods.

  • It has much higher protein and antioxidant levels than wheat.
  • It is typically utilized as a substitute for rice and bulgur in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.
  • Due to its high water-absorption capacity, it would likely be required to increase the liquid ratio in a formulation.

About the Author:

Lin Carson, PhD
Dr. Lin Carson’s love affair with baking started over 25 years ago when she earned her BSc degree in Food Science & Technology at the Ohio State University. She went on to earn her MSc then PhD from the Department of Grain Science at Kansas State University. Seeing that technical information was not freely shared in the baking industry, Dr. Lin decided to launch BAKERpedia to cover this gap. Today, as the world’s only FREE and comprehensive online technical resource for the commercial baking industry, BAKERpedia is used by over half a million commercial bakers, ingredient sellers, equipment suppliers and baking entrepreneurs annually. You can catch Dr. Lin regularly on the BAKED In Science podcast solving baking problems. For more information on Dr. Lin, subscribe to her "Ask Dr. Lin" YouTube Channel, or follow her on LinkedIn.

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