Kamut® grain is an ancient grain, and a close relative to durum wheat. It is growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional wheat sources because it is considered nutritionally superior to many other forms of wheat. Research suggests that Kamut® grain may first have been grown in either Egypt or Asia.
When it was first grown in the US, it had no trademark, and was grown mainly as a novelty grain by one farmer in Montana, who got samples of the grain from his son, a WWII airman. The wheat was dubbed King Tut’s grain because of the suggestion of its ancient uses and possible origins. It wasn’t until the 1970s that any farmers thought to grow the wheat in a commercial manner, and there was only one remaining sample of the Montana farmer’s harvest, grown in the 1940s, with which to work.
T. Mack Quinn, another Montana farmer, obtained this sample of the Kamut® grain, and spent the next ten years attempting to grow it, and gleaning information about its origins. It was during Quinn’s work with the grain that most information about its origins in the Fertile Crescent, and its close relationship to durum wheat were obtained. Quinn, after realizing the hardiness of the grain, registered this special ancient wheat under the trademarked name Kamut® grain, in the early 1990s.
There are some special attributes belonging to Kamut® grain. It is extremely resistant to pests and can be more easily grown organically than most other types of wheat. It’s also been discovered that about 70% of people allergic or sensitive to traditional wheat are not allergic to Kamut® grain. Further, this type of wheat is far more nutritionally sound than other wheat sources. Protein content is 40% higher than traditional wheat, vitamin content is higher, and it has a higher lipid to carbohydrate ratio, which means the grain produces greater energy.
Even though Kamut® grain is trademarked, there are now many farmers who grow it, since it's in high demand for a variety of commercial baked goods. It’s also available in flour form. Most US farmers who grow this special wheat belong to the organization Kamut Association of America (KANA), so they can work on supplying the grain to people who like baking and to food manufacturers.
It’s certainly worth trying Kamut® grain in your own baking or in manufactured goods. Many say one of its distinct differences from traditional wheat is that it is not bitter and has a natural sweetness. If you bake with this wheat, you won’t need to add as much, if any, sugar to your recipes to counterbalance the occasional bitterness present in traditional wheat. Look for this grain in natural foods stores, where it may be sold packaged or in bulk. If you are allergic or sensitive to wheat, this may be the perfect wheat substitute, but do check with your doctor first before you try it.