Grünkern (green spelt) bread recipe


Browsing the local delights of the organic grocery store in my home town in Austria, I picked up a bag of Grünkern. The greenish grains looked pretty and unique on the shelf! Grünkern grains are unripe spelt kernels cultivated predominantly in Southern Germany. Although mainly used for soups and vegetarian burgers, I wanted to incorporate some of this unique green spelt grain in a sourdough Grünkern bread.

Grünkern sourdough
Grünkern sourdough bread

What is Grünkern?

Grünkern (German for ‘green kernel’) is spelt, harvested when green, in the dough stage of ripening, and then dried. Historically, harvesting spelt so early and before it reaches its full ripeness was a reaction to periods of adverse weather, which destroyed crops and resulted in poor harvests. It was a way to prevent crop failure.


The green spelt grains are harvested when the starch isn’t fully developed and the kernels are still soft and juicy at about 50% moisture content. Grains are dried over a beechwood fire or in hot air dryers – right down to a moisture content of 10 to 13%. Once dried, the outer husk is removed. Have a look at for more information around the harvesting process, then and now.

The dried green spelt kernels smell aromatic and a little bit like fresh hay. The aroma remains uniquely pleasant and hearty when cooked with water, so it became a tradition to harvest a portion of the spelt as Grünkern. Grünkern doesn’t tend to be milled and is typically available as whole grains or chopped grains.

If this sounds similar to another grain, Freekeh, then you are right. Freekeh is also harvested green, then roasted. The difference? Freekeh is made from green unripe durum wheat and dates back to the ancient regions of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria while Grünkern is made from spelt and is still mainly produced in Germany.

How Grünkern was made

Watch these videos showcasing the Grünkern harvest back in the 1970s in Germany.

Where to buy Grünkern in the UK?

I’ve only seen Grünkern on Amazon in the UK. Unfortunately, other probable places such as Real Foods or Buy Whole Foods Online don’t seem to stock it.

Grünkern bread recipe

This recipe adds Grünkern to a wholemeal spelt sourdough loaf. Adding black treacle enhances the flavours, but you can easily leave out the treacle if you would like to taste the pure Grünkern flavours.

Grünkern bread
Grünkern bread


For the sourdough

For the Grünkern soaker

  • 175g Grünkern
  • 350g water

For the main dough

  • 220g spelt flour
  • 50g water
  • 14g salt
  • 1 tbsp malt extract

How to bake Grünkern bread

Day 1

  • Prepare the sourdough by combining your spelt starter with the spelt flour and water. Mix well in a bowl, cover with a lid and leave to stand at room temperature for 16 – 24 hours.
  • Combine Grünkern and water in a pan, cover and leave to soak overnight.

Day 2

  • Drain the Grünkern and bring to a boil in a pan with 350g water. Simmer over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Drain any remaining water.
  • In a large bowl, combine 440g of the sourdough (the remaining 25g go back into the fridge for your next bake) with the main dough ingredients.
  • Form a dough and knead for 10 minutes.
  • Add the Grünkern to the dough and knead until evenly distributed.
  • Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
  • Prepare a baking tin (23 x 11 x 9.5 cm) by lightly oiling it. I use a silicone brush to do that.
  • Place the dough into the tin and prove for 2 – 4 hours depending on the temperature in your room. The dough should rise visibly, filling the tin to the top.
  • Preheat the oven to 250°C.
  • Place the baking tin on the second layer from bottom up and bake for 15 minutes, then bake for a further 25 minutes at 180°C and a final 10 minutes outside the tin at 180°C.
  • Cool on a wire rack.
Grünkern spelt bread
Grünkern spelt bread

100% Wholemeal Spelt Sourdough Bread Recipe


This is a recipe for a wholemeal spelt sourdough bread using only wholemeal spelt flour and spelt grains. This bread shows that, contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to achieve a very well balanced loaf of wholemeal spelt sourdough bread with a wonderfully aerated crumb held together by a crisp chewy crust.

100 percent wholemeal spelt flour sourdough bread
100% wholemeal spelt flour sourdough bread

A big thanks to Lutz from Plötzblog and Gerd from whose posts have provided the building blocks for this recipe. However, my recipe doesn’t use yeast and relies entirely on the strength of the sourdough rise.

Spelt sourdough bread recipe

Thanks to my grain mill, I can make the spelt bread simply from a bag of spelt grains, milling what I need and leaving the grains for the soaker whole.

On day 1, prepare the sourdough, spelt grain soaker and scalded flour as follows.


  • 1 tbsp spelt flour sourdough starter
  • 150g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 150g water

In a medium plastic bowl, combine the ingredients and mix well. Cover with a lid and leave to rise at room temperature for approx. 16 hours.

Spelt grain soaker

  • 50g spelt grains
  • 250g water
  • 5g salt

In a small pot, combine the spelt grains with the salt and pour over the water. Simmer at a low heat until the water has been absorbed (approximately 45 minutes). Cover and keep at room temperature for about 16 hours.

Scalded spelt flour

  • 50g wholegrain spelt flour
  • 150g water

In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the flour and mix until the mixture is a smooth pulp. Cover and keep at room temperature for about 16 hours. Adding the scalded flour will allow to bring more moisture into the loaf.

On day 2, prepare the final dough and get ready to bake!

Final dough and baking the wholemeal spelt loaf

  • 300g sourdough
  • Spelt grain soaker
  • Scalded spelt flour
  • 170g wholemeal spelt flour
  • 50g water

Combine all of the ingredients to form a soft dough and knead carefully for 10 minutes.

Place the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Give the dough another 10 second knead, shape and place into a baking tin (17cm x 10cm x 10cm).

Wrap in a polythene bag and leave to proof for a few hours. Spelt ferments faster than other flours, so keep an eye on it. I had to slow down the fermentation as I had plans for the day so I placed it in the fridge for a number or hours. In this case, you can just bring the dough back to room temperature before baking, making sure you complete the proofing process.

Preheat the oven to 240°C, bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 35 minutes.

Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Pure wholemeal spelt sourdough bread
Wholemeal spelt sourdough bread with a beautifully moist crumb