Farro can refer to wheat from three different plants: triticum monococcum, triticum dicoccum, and triticum spelta. These are usually referred to as farro piccolo, farro medio, and farro grande (small, medium, and large) due to the size of their grains.
Farro medio, also known in English as ’emmer’, is cultivated in central Tuscany and is considered to be a typical Tuscan product. It’s often wrongly referred to as ‘spelt’ which is actually triticum spelta and has proven difficult to grown in Italy.
Farro della Garfagnana IGP has protected origin status within the European Union. It forms the basis of several traditional Tuscan dishes and is usually meant when talking about farro.
People have been cultivating farro for thousands of years, and in fact it is the oldest type of cultivated wheat. It was widely used in Roman times to make bread and porridge. In fact the traditional rite of marriage in Ancient Rome was called confarreatio (‘the rite of sharing farro bread’) because it involved the bride and groom breaking and sharing a loaf made of farro as a symbol of their future domestic life.
Farro looks like a sandy-coloured rice, and each grain has a line down the middle of the underside. When boiled, it develops an attractive two-tone brown and white appearance. It has an interesting texture as well, tending to pop slightly in the mouth when chewed.
Traditional Tuscan recipes for farro include:
insalata di farro – boiled farro served with beans, tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables
minestra di farro – a soup made of farro and beans
Watch out for these recipes coming soon.
Have you tried farro? How did you eat it? What did you think of it?