What is Farro? An Ancient Grain Worth Knowing About

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Farro is an ancient whole grain with dietary benefits, but it’s derived from wheat so it’s not gluten-free. This informational guide will explain what farro is, how to select the right variety, cooking techniques, nutritional info, and recipes to try.

What is Farro? An Ancient Grain Worth Knowing About

What is farro and why should it be stocked in your pantry at all times? Well if you’re looking to add whole grains, protein, and fiber to your diet then this ancient grain is a convenient and healthy choice. It’s one of the oldest cultivated grains initially discovered in the fertile crescent of the Middle East. Grano farro is the original grain which other grains are derived. More commonly it’s now grown in Italy in the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Tuscany, the Marches, and Umbria.

Farro is shaped like rice with a golden brown hue and has a nutty flavor. It also has a chewy texture once cooked. Farro is easy to prepare and goes well with a variety of meals, like soups, salads, side dishes or even a hot breakfast. Let’s learn how home cooks can use this versatile ingredient to add flavor and nutrition to recipes.

grains of farro in a clear jar on a table

How To Select Farro

You’ll be surprised to learn that farro comes in three different hulled wheat species with varying tastes:

  • Einkorn – (Triticum monococcum) aka farro piccolo.
  • Emmer – Commonly sold in the United States (Triticum dicoccum) aka farro medio.
  • Spelt – (triticum spelta) aka farro grande.

However, the selection criteria that will most affect the taste, time and nutrition of the grain is how it’s processed. Here’s the difference between products and their labeling:

  • Whole Farro: The grain is left intact, retaining more nutrients per serving. Has a stronger flavor, more chew, and requires the longest cooking time. Often soaking these whole grains overnight in water helps to soften the husk so that it cooks faster. Typically this will take over 30 minutes of cook time.
  • Semi-Pearled Farro: A part of the bran is removed from the grain, but still contains a portion of the fiber.
  • Pearled Farro: All of the bran and outer husk is removed, yet contains some fiber. The cooking time is the quickest for this product, less than 30 minutes.

Here are a few of the most popular Farro products listed on Amazon.com
different brands of farro

  1. Roland Italian Farro
  2. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Farro
  3. Bluebird Grain Farms Organic Farro
  4. Nature’s Earthly Choice Italian Farro

How To Cook Farro

Farro readily absorbs flavors so you can cook this grain with aromatics like herbs, vegetables or broths and stocks to add more complexity. If you want to enhance the nutty flavor, the uncooked grains can be toasted in a skillet before adding to hot liquid. There are two standard methods for cooking farro:

  • Rice Method: Very similar to preparing rice, the grain is simmered in a closed pot until the water is absorbed and tender but not mushy. Typically about two parts water is needed to cook 1 cup of uncooked farro. This process works well with the pearled farro products.
  • Pasta Method: Boiled in plenty of salted water, until it reaches an al dente texture. The farro is then drained to dry and keep the grains separate.

The manufacturer’s directions will give the best indication of cook time and liquid ratios. Just make sure to plan in case you grab the whole variety. The typical yield of 1 cup dried farro is 3 cups cooked grains.

A large spoon of cooked Farro

How Healthy is Farro?

The key benefits of consuming farro are that it’s an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, and iron per serving. According to the USDA Branded Food Products Database, a ¼ cup serving of dried pearled farro contains 170 calories, 7 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber and 2.3 mg of iron.

It’s important to note that if you’re sensitive to gluten, farro would not be recommended since it is derived from wheat. With all the nutritional benefits, it’s time to get those pots simmering so you can add farro to your next meal!

Farro Recipes

What ways will you add farro into your recipes? I’d love to hear in the comments section below!

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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19 Comments Leave a comment or review

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Great question! Yes, you can cook farro in the rice cooker. Just make sure to follow the package directions for amount of water to liquid, and if you need to soak or not soak depending on if it’s whole, semipearled or pearled. Adjust timing based on how chewy of a texture you prefer.

  1. Walt says

    Hi Jessica, Your Site was the 1st one I read after seeing this offered on the menu at Dig Inn and decided to give it a try. Loved it and your Blog too!

  2. Ginny says

    I have celiac and am thinking that brown rice would be the best substitute for faro in a bean soup recipe. What do you think?

  3. david distefano says

    i just put it in my morning cereal of slivered almonds, flax seed, sunflower seeds, and oats along with plain cheerios, rice chex and all bran splashed with non fat milk. no cooking needed.

  4. Rick Cooke says

    I use Farro in place of Barley in my Beef Barley soup recipe. Very good. I like the nutty flavor Farro gives to the soup.

  5. PDXMadeline says

    I eat it all different ways since I like it leftover as a salad mixed with nuts and dried fruits, chicken and celery and warm I saute some mushroom and mix those in with slivered almonds. So good!

  6. David Brannan says

    Growing up in the south I’ve always love an occasional grits bowl for breakfast. A bowl of grits, with either fried or scrambled eggs on top, sometimes with cheese. I’ve found that Farro makes for a much healthier substitute for the grits. Really tasty and filling.

  7. Susan Zink says

    Just discovered and bought my first farro. As cooking time is 15 to 20 minutes I think it must be simi pearl. So I am trying to lose 100 lbs by eating right. Suggestions?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m excited about your new food adventures! I like to combine farro with chopped vegetables and a citrus dressing like a pasta like salad. Just make sure to portion out your dishes.

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