The percentage of new US food product launches featuring ancient grains or seeds has almost tripled since 2008, according to Datamonitor, although the bulk of activity is focused around just two: Chia and quinoa.
Pictured above: Veggie burgers from ancient grains specialist InHarvest using freekeh - wheat that has been harvested early while it is still green and then roasted and cracked.
The grain works particularly well in veggie burgers, veggie meatballs, tacos and other savory dishes because it has a meaty density and mouthfeel and imparts a strong umami, earthy, mushroom-like flavor, says Chef Michael Holleman, director of culinary development at InHarvest.
Intensely flavorful, freekeh has a toothier texture than farro but is softer than barley, and also packs a powerful nutritional punch, as it’s high in protein, fiber and resistant starch, as well as vitamins and minerals, he says. But equally importantly, it comes with a great backstory, which is key to the success of many ‘ancient’ grains.