Are farro and spelt the same thing?
No, they are not. See this photo of a farro and mushroom salad.
so what the hell is spelt?--furious in brooklyn
I have made recipes with both and can verify that they are very different. Farro is more sweet. I think of it as a nutty grain kind of like quinoa. Spelt does not have the sweetness to me.
Picture on the left is farro. Picture on the right is spelt:
4) Farro In Italy: A Desk Study by Mark Buerelli (This is an interesting article written in 2006, commissioned by the Italian Department of Agriculture on Underutilized Grains. There is so much confusing culinary clatter about farro and spelt. It's a bit chi-chi to say you cook with farro, but how about spelt? Is farro spelt? Is spelt farro? So, here's the quick scoop. Spelt is always farro, but farro is not always spelt. Capito? As they say in Italian. Here is a blurb from an Italian primer on the subject.)
"Farro is a strictly ethnobotanical concept, deeply rooted in Italian tradition. The term is used exclusively for three cultivated hulled [ANCIENT] wheat species: Triticum monococcum (einkorn), T. dicoccon (emmer) and T. spelta (spelt). Its singularity lies in the fact that the berry or kernel retains its hull or husk during harvest. . . in Italy these three species are known as 'farro piccolo', 'farro medio' and 'farro grande', respectively, meaning small, medium and large." ("Farro in Italy, a Desk Study"by Markus Buerli) All varieties of farro are known for their depth of flavor, impressive nutritional profile and ease of digestibility.