Spelt is a gluten-free grain that can be enjoyed in many different ways, such as a side dish for a main meal or as an addition in baked goods. It is important that when an individual prepares spelt that the berries are rinsed and soaked before using, as this aids in the final texture and taste of the finished product. Cooking with spelt berries usually follows the same rules applied to cooking with other grains like rice and oats, which often only involve rinsing, soaking and boiling in water or milk. When using spelt flour to replace wheat flour in baked goods, it is often recommended to add a thickening agent to act as the gluten that is normally missing in most spelt flours.
Spelt berries need to be rinsed to remove any dirt, shells or other debris that may interfere with the cooking process. Like beans, spelt berries should be soaked in water overnight to speed up the cooking process and create softer berries. Cooking with spelt berries requires twice the amount of water as dried berries, as the berries will absorb this water while cooking. Cooked spelt berries can be used as a substitute for oats in oatmeal, making water and milk interchangeable ingredients when cooking with spelt.
In gluten-free baked goods, like breads and pastries, spelt berries are ground into a flour and used interchangeably for regular wheat flour. When cooking with spelt flour, it is often suggested that a gluten replacement is added to the food, like guar gum or xanthan gum. These gluten-free thickeners act like a binder, a role that gluten plays in traditional wheat-baked breads. Spelt flour can also be used as a coating for frying foods like chicken or fish. When used as a coating, spelt flour does not require a thickening agent of any kind.
Spelt flour can also be used to make wheat-free pastas, which are very popular among consumers who cannot process the gluten in most wheat-based pastas. The rules for cooking with spelt pasta follow the same guidelines as cooking with traditional wheat pasta, as they are both similar in texture. Adding salt to the cooking water seems to make the pasta cook faster, and will also aid in the overall taste of the food. Making spelt pasta at home can often be difficult, but can be accomplished using pure spelt flour and water, along with a home pasta cutting machine.