Not everyone waits until the grain is completely ripe. Green spelt, for example, is harvested unripe and then dried. Green spelt is a wonderful addition to our menu plan.
Harvesting grain before it is ripe is a tradition in many countries. Freekeh is unripe, dried durum wheat from the Middle East. Green spelt is very well known in Germany. Once harvested, the unripe spelt is dried over a fire, giving it a wonderful smoky note.
This was born out of necessity. Summers used to be wet and cold so farmers had no choice but to harvest the grain before it was completely ripe and then dry it. In southern Germany, it became traditional to harvest a portion of the spelt crop as green spelt. Small houses were built to dry the grain over fires.
Organic farmer Klaus Böhler from Seuzach (Canton Zurich) has recently begun to cultivate spelt and harvest it prematurely – not out of necessity but because he wanted to expand his menu. His grain is not dried over a fire. However, the farmer is working on bringing the characteristic smoky flavour to the grain in other ways.
Green spelt can be used to make risottos and patties. Soaking the green spelt a day in advance will help speed up the cooking process.