Grünkern aus dem Bauland
» Production - then

The production of Grünkern in the olden days

Click on these little boxes with those funny German words and you will find out some details about the production of gruenkern!


In the olden days (up until the 1960s) gruenkern was produced like this: The spelt was cut with the Sichel into small bundles (Haempfele) of maybe about 50 stalks each. These little bundles were pulled through some kind of an iron comb which was mounted on a wooden chest, called the Reffe. By this method the ears were torn off and fell into the wooden chest(Reffe). The ears were poured into sacks and taken to the Darre which was a barnlike building containing a huge roasting oven. The ears were poured onto the gridiron under which a fire of beechwood was burning. After having reached a certain degree of roasting the beard was removed from the grain and what was left was this unique delicacy: GRUENKERN.


The Reffe
can be seen below. It was a wooden chest with a big iron comb on top and had the capacity of about 10 cubicfeet. It had four handles so that it could be moved to the next heap of small bundles of gruenkern.



were small bundles of spelt cut when in a green condition (i.e. the grain was still somewhat unripe). The bundles were laid down crosswise until the workers arrived with the Reffe.


The Sichel
is probably similar to what is known as a sickle in English-speaking countries, a small cutting instrument by which only relatively few stalks could be cut at the same time. One had to bend down low in order to cut the stalks. And a farmworker had to do this several thousand times a day.


The Darre

Below you see a Darre, a barnlike building situated outside the town because of the danger of fire. The center of the Darre was a gridiron under which burned a beechwood fire. The sacks filled with ears of spelt had to be taken from the field to the Darre immediately. There it was most important to maintain a certain temperature under the gridiron so that the grain would not burn. During the entire roasting process the ears of spelt had to be raked over to ensure an even roasting.
After that the roasted ears -still hot- had to be taken to a special machine for the removal of the beard.
And then, after this long backbreaking process constantly bathed in sweat - you felt the gruenkern grain in your hands and you looked forward to a meal of gruenkern soup and gruenkernburgers!
To be honest: When I had to help my parents make gruenkern as a boy I never thought that I would ever become a fan of gruenkern!


It was difficult to keep the fire at the right temperature



Inside the Darre the workers were usually soaked in sweat




The harvest of gruenkern in moving pictures:

The quality of the films suffered in transfering them from Super8 to video.






.:  Dr. Helmut Karl Ulshoefer - Gruenkern-Country - Utopia  :.
reffe haempfele sichel