Week 2

Rob Salvino

I hope you had fun playing the game of hangman last week. There’s more to come. It’s only fitting. The name of the bakery is Cereal Box Bakery after all.

This week I’m featuring Turkey Red wheat in some of the baked goods. Turkey Red wheat is what is known as a heritage wheat. What is a heritage wheat, you ask? Thanks for asking! For millennia wheat evolved to local conditions and tastes as it traveled the globe with people. A variety that became specific to a certain people is known as a heritage variety.

In the twentieth century farmers stopped saving seed and started turning to seed companies that produced proprietary high yield hybrid seeds. These hybrid seeds work well in today’s cost-driven food industry, but seed breeders have ignored flavor and nutrition. After all, the parts of the wheat that contribute most to flavor and nutrition—the bran and the germ—are removed in modern industrial flour mills. Fortunately, many old heritage wheat varietal seeds still exist although few are farmed commercially. These old varietal seeds are the heirloom tomatoes of the grain world.

Turkey Red wheat was brought to Kansas from Mennonite farmers in the Ukraine in the late 1800s who were fleeing Russian forced military service. It became the main wheat of the Great Plains. It’s making a bit of a comeback there today with a small handful of farmers growing it. Our Turkey Red wheat was grown in Washington. Dick Scheuerman, the farmer who is growing it, had enough wheat to plant one acre last year which yielded 800 lbs of wheat. He gave me 100 lbs and planted the rest for next year. Here’s hoping for a bumper crop in 2016.