Emmer (Triticum dicoccum) is an 'ancient grain', native to parts of the Near East, where it formed part of the diet of hunter-gatherers before becoming domesticated by 7000BCE. It arose as a hybrid between a wild variety of einkorn and an annual goatgrass. It was cultivated in Britain by around 2000BCE, but almost universally it was eventually replaced by higher-yielding grain varieties, though it remains as a "relict crop" in mountainous areas from Armenia across parts of Europe and into Morocco. It is more widely grown in Ethiopia, and in the Garfagnana area of Tuscany, emmer has become a premium product with IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) status, sold in wholegrain form as 'farro'.

For the baker, emmer flour may be used for its flavour, described variously as nutty, honeyed or wheaty, and it might be preferred for pita bread, biscuits or cake. Our Recipe section also has a superb Dan Lepard recipe for a 100% emmer bread with pumpkin seeds and black barley malt.