What is Farro?


Farro Grain

After centuries of oblivion, now Farro is being rediscovered and it is considered a real gift of nature by sophisticated and well – known connoisseurs.
In reality, this precious and ancient grain has been grown since time immemorial. Even though its culture has occurred in small and fractured parcels of land whose total combined size never actually exceeded 500 hectares (1,200 acres), it is being used in some delightful and traditional recipes in the Italian town of Garfagnana, near Lucca, where some restaurants proudly feature dishes such as farro and beans, farro soup, farro with vegetables, peppers stuffed with farro and farro and ricotta cheese torte.

The rediscovery of Farro must be attributed to the French, who in the last twenty years have re-launched production of this ancient grain in the haute savoie, to supply famous restaurants in France, where it is used not only in vegetable soups and bean soups, but also in many “crust” specialties. Farro is the original staple from which all the grains known today derive, and for more than 2,000 years it has constituted the basic nutrition of entire Mediterranean and Asiatic populations.

In the past five centuries modern grains with higher and higher yields have become widespread. Farro in fact generally has a yield per acre, which can be as little as one sixth of that for wheat. In addition it is thrashed un-husked, so that it must subsequently be husked, with a resulting reduction in quantity by 50%.

Clean farro yield amounts of about 1,000 to 1,200 kgs. Of whole grains per hectare (900 to 1,000 lbs. of whole grains per acre) and of 80 to 100kgs. Have broken grains per hectare (70 to 90lbs. Of broken grains per acre)

This explains the contradiction between the ancient definition of farro as “poor people’s grain”, and today’s high price for the commodity, which reflects its high production costs. In 1990, Italy’s farro production was roughly 660,000 lbs. and it was obtained in a group of fairly small farms owned by a number of agricultural companies in Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Molise and Latium. Husking is performed even today in old stone mills (there probably aren’t more than 15 to 20 in the entire country of Italy).

*1 HECTARE = 2.471 ACRES 1 KG. = 2.2 LBS