I’m sorry for the explanation point in the headline, but one of my pet peeves is that the Italian grain “farro” is usually translated into English as “spelt.” Yes, they are both ancient forms of wheat, but they are different varieties and often have different cooking requirements, causing considerable confusion.
Most of the farro available in America is imported from Italy and is labeled “semi-perlato,” meaning that some of the bran has been removed. This imported farro cooks in about 20 minutes.
On the other hand, whole kernels of spelt, like other types of wheat kernels, take about 50 to 60 minutes to be done. Whole grains always remain a little chewy, so the best way to tell when they are thoroughly cooked is to cut a kernel in half: it should be one color throughout, with no white dot of uncooked starch in the center.)
In the last few years, the Washington-state-based Bluebird Grain Farms (on my blog roll) has been growing and selling organic whole grain farro, with its bran intact. I pressure-cooked some the other day, using 2 cups of grain and 6 cups of water. I cooked it under pressure for 15 minutes and let the pressure come down naturally, and it was done. (Yield was 5 cups cooked grains.)
I tossed some with some garlicky braised kale and it made a fine combination or flavors and textures. I froze the rest and look forward to adding it to soups and stir-fries, straight from the freezer.
In addition to their delicious whole grain farro, the folks at Bluebird Farms were kind enough to send me their whole grain farro flour, which I am eager to bake into some muffins or cookies. I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meanwhile, you can mail-order some for yourself, along with whole grain rye and white wheat.