Saturday, August 6, 2011

Today's Discovery -- Purple Wheat

      Ten thousand years of cultivating wheat has resulted in thousands of varieties -- dwarf, resistant to pests and diseases, able to grow in short seasons, and bountiful in the amount produced per acre. In the process of re-discovering heritage seeds and finding the origins of today's wheats, the ancestors have found a new following. Spelt, emmer and einkorn all can be found on menus of exotic restaurants and in the seed bins of specialty companies. 

     Purple wheat is one of the newest for sale, marketed as originally out of Africa -- Ethiopia or East Africa, depending on who you ask. It's so new that it's riding the wave of trademarking almost everything, and most of what's available on the Internet comes with its own brand name. The selling points are its unusual color, its high doses of anti-oxidants, and its taste -- robust, nutty, and sweet, according to various sources.

     How would you use it? One company ( suggests everything from baguettes to breakfast cereals to biscuits. But you'd want to be pretty sure of your audience before putting a purple biscuit under the sausage gravy, or the strawberry shortcake. Another company is happy to sell you a 20-kg bag of PurpleBerry Wholegrain Flour (purple wheat flour combined with purple corn flour) and let you figure out for yourself how to use it ( A third company, Infraready Products, sells purple wheat as "AnthoGrain™" 

     Growing the wheat yourself is an option too. Prairie Garden Seed in Saskatchewan, Canada will sell you Utrecht Blue, which is useful in their eyes for weaving wheat into decorative displays, as well as growing for food ( 

    If you just want to try it out, ( order it on-line from the Swiss Bakery, or  buy from the Austrian-run GrainHarvest BreadHouse in Waterloo and Kitchener, Ontario


  1. I've been looking to purchase purple wheat flour. Can you recommend any sources in the U.S.?

  2. I've done some more research, and I'm not seeing any U.S. distributors for the actual flour. I Googled AnthoGrain because that appears to be one of the trademarked names for it, but still couldn't find anyone here who sells it. Best of luck finding it, and thanks for asking. Does this suggest that your kids are likely to eat purple bread as well as squid?

  3. I have just been reading a book on New Zealand scientists and the article on plant breeders tells of the development of wheats of various colours. It says that purple wheat exported to wheat growing countries was made infertile to avoid the possibility of accidental contamination of their wheat crops. See Floreat Scientia, Wairau Press, for Random House NZ Ltd. Some of the scientists worked at Lincoln University. Jim Hunt.

  4. I live in Christchurch New Zealand, and the wholemeal flour I use to make my bread at home is 'Purple wholemeal flour - made by Weston Milling'. I buy 20kg sacks and make a 75% wholemeal loaf. It bakes to be a dark wholemeal bread, but not as dense as a rye. It is well suited to making in a bread maker and no purple colour is seen after baking.

    1. Thanks Richard. I haven't located any yet for the U.S., but may put a little more attention on it this summer. So you're saying that the baked bread is a usual color for baked bread? Does it taste much the same as a wholemeal bread?

      I hope that Christchurch is recovering well. My daughter was in Christchurch during the Christmas quakes, and then got back there a few days after the really bad quake.