Q. What brocha is made of foods made from (a new strain of) wheat grass called Kernza?
A. Kermza is defined online as a cousin of the annual wheat. Kernza is a domesticated perennial grain originating from a forage grass called intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium). Kernza is in the early stages of commercialization.
It is part of a group of plants commonly called wheatgrasses because of the similarity of their seed heads or ‘ears’ to common wheat. However the wheatgrasses, in general, are perennial, while wheat is an annual. The grass is native to Europe and Western Asia.
It is a new food we are all likely to hear a lot more about in the future. Developed from wheatgrass, ‘Kernza’ is being hailed as a weapon against climate change that could also protect the environment and revolutionize farming. Big claims for a grain that is but one-fifth the size of wheat.
Americans can already buy pasta, pizza, bread and beer made with the grain, which was trademarked.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that since this is not one of the five grains recorded for the brocho of hamotzi or mezonos, the blessing should be haadama, and shehakol when baked into a cake, bread or pasta, or when fermented into beer. The brocho achrona is bore nefashos. The same would apply to quinoa.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a