Hard red wheat berries are the seed of the wheat plant. While they are most often ground to be used as whole wheat flour, there are other ways to use this nutritious food.
Two Kinds of Hard Red Wheat Berries
There are actually two kinds of hard red wheat berries. Each can be used for bread but results will be slightly different.
- Spring: Hard red spring wheat has a higher protein content than the winter wheat and is a better substitute for bread flour when making sandwich loaves. However the protein content is not conducive to making artisan style European bread.
- Winter: Hard red winter wheat has a slightly lower protein content than the spring. This makes it great for mixing with other flours like rye and using a starter to produce Old World style breads.
The protein gluten contained in the wheat berry is what allows the dough to become elastic, rise, and hold its shape. It is also the substance that Seitan is made from. Seitan is a pure form of gluten that, when cooked and seasoned, is very similar in texture to beef. The harder the berry the more gluten it contains.
For sprouting or cooking uses it doesn't matter which wheat berry you choose. Both will have a similar flavor, texture, and nutritional profile.
Nutritional Profile of Hard Red Winter Wheat
|Calcium||6 percent of the RDA|
|Iron||34 percent of the RDA|
The nutrients in spring wheat are very similar, with the protein content being 29.57, slightly higher than the winter wheat.
How to Use Wheat Berries
Different cultures have depended on wheat berries for thousands of years. From bread to side dishes, wheat is a staple of any kitchen. Their sweet, nutty flavor makes them a perfect breakfast food. Some ways to use wheat berries are:
- Cracked wheat for a hot cereal
- Cooked as a grain side dish
- Ground in flour to be used in pastas and breads
Recipes for Wheat Berries
There are numerous recipes on the Internet that utilize wheat berries in salads, side dishes, breads, and more. Here are some that may interest you:
- Red Wheat berry Salad
- Alton Brown's basic wheat berries
- Baked Apples and Wheat Berries
- Wheat berry breakfast bowl
- Wheat berries with spices and almonds
Sprouting Wheat Berries
Sprouting wheat berries gives them a sweet flavor. The sprouts should be allowed to get from 1/3 inch to ¾ inch long.
- Place ¼ cup of wheat berries in a quart jar. Fill with lukewarm water.
- Place a screen or cheesecloth over the jar top. Screw on lid and drain through the cheesecloth.
- Fill with lukewarm water and allow to stand for about an hour and a half to two hours.
- Drain and rinse the wheat berries.
- Make sure the wheat berries are drained well and set the jar on its side in a warm, dark place.
- Rinse the berries and drain once in the morning and once in the afternoon for about four days or until sprouts form.
- Rinse, drain, and keep refrigerated.
Tips for Adding Wheat Berries to Your Diet
- Wheat berries are an incomplete protein and they need to have a legume like dried beans or lentils, cheese, or seeds/nuts to make the protein complete.
- They can be used in place of rice, corn, or other grains in most recipes.
- When using them in salads allow the dish to stand overnight in the refrigerator to absorb flavor from the other ingredients.
- If you are interested in grinding your own flour from wheat berries you will want to look at the various grinders on the market. These can be very loud so read the reviews.
- Wheat berries can be mixed with rice and other grains for pilaf.
- Tabbouleh is made from cracked wheat berries.
Where to Find Wheat Berries
You should be able to find wheat berries locally at natural foods markets like Wholefoods. If you do not have one nearby then you can find it on the Internet at the following places:
You should be aware that the shipping on wheat berries can be very high due to the weight. Keep that in mind when placing your order.
Using hard red wheat berries is a great way to add nutrition and variety to your diet. It may take a bit of practice and experimenting find the way you like them best so just keep trying new recipes. Filling, nutritious, delicious; wheat berries are a versatile way to add variety to your meals.