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Wheat Berries?

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I bought some wheat berries about a month ago to show to the 3&4 year olds i was teaching about wheat and where it comes from. Afterwards i stowed it away in a sealed glass container in a dark place and forgot about it until now. I would hate to see good food go to waste, so i figured i should cook them some how. Are they still okay to eat? (i know wheat flour goes rancid qucikly) If so, i've never cooked wheat berries before (and have only really seen it in sprouted breads at the markets) so what would be the most basic recipe? After searching through the message board i see that it's often used for cold salads - is that the best use? I also see that it takes a rather long time to cook - does it grow very much in size the way that rice and other grains do? Also, (sorry for the many questions) is this something a child would enjoy? (i have a four year old who admittedly has advanced taste buds but am not sure if she would eat it.) Thanks so much for any help!

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  1. I mix them with brown rice (3T wheatberries for 1 c minus 3Ts brown rice) and cook as you would normally cook the rice. I also add currants in about 5 or so minutes before the end of cooking time.

    2 Replies
    1. re: KeriT

      I should have mentioned I use stock to make the rice. My toddler eats this happily but then again she eats capers, anchovies and other foods I never would have thought she would.

      1. re: KeriT

        Good to know that our little one has a fighting chance with this. She also eats foods that we never would have thought she would (although not capers - i'm impressed!)

    2. I like these, but they're pretty chewy -- a texture perhaps appreciated more by adults than kids, but it depends on the kid. It does swell as it cooks. I soak it before cooking. Wheatberries are also terrific soaked, drained, and baked into whole-grain bread.

      1. Thanks for the help! We are trying to switch over to brown rice at home so it should make for an interesting mix with the wheatberries - and the addition of currents sound delicious!

        Thanks also for the heads up on the texture! Since our little one doesn't even seem to like brown rice too much (which is why we haven't completely made the switch yet), we'll see how she takes to the wheatberries. My husband and i are sure to love it, though. I only wish i could bake bread - the last time i tried to bake a loaf it came out as hard as a rock and about as delicious as library paste! (actually, i think library paste would've tasted better.)

        1. You could cook them for breakfast. My mom used to cook it all night in double boiler. I haven't cooked whole wheat in while, but do cook whole oats. For oats, I bring them to a boil in water (3;1 ratio), then let the pan sit covered overnight. Then in the morning I bring it to boil and simmer till tender, about another half hour.

          paulj

          1 Reply
          1. re: paulj

            It won't help you now, but I store mine in the freezer. As well as nuts, rices, beans, and whole grains.

            My favorite wheatberry recipe so far came from The Gourmet Cookbook. You boil the wheatberries in water for an hour and drain.

            You saute a minced onion (and possibly garlic?) in butter until lightly browned, then stir in the drained wheatberries and toasted pecans.

            It was very good...

            (By the way, this recipes used hard red wheatberries.)

            -Becca
            www.porterhouse.typepad.com

          2. thanks again everyone! i never would have known to try cooking wheatberries these ways (as most of the recipes i had seen involved "cooking them according to instructions" - which i didn't have) or that you could add toasted pecans or currants and i'm excited to try it.

            The boil,soak boil method seem easy enough - i might give that a whirl. And i will definitely be storing my wheatberries in the freezer the next time.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fudisgud

              It isn't obvious to me that wheat berries need to be stored in the freezer. Commercial wheat silos are not refrigerated, at least not that I know of. At my local health food shop, wheat germ is stored in the cooler, but whole grains are not.

              paulj

              1. re: paulj

                it's good to know that the ones i have will probably still be ok. Thanks! also, you mentioned that your mom would cook it for breakfast? Did you add anything to it at that point when you ate them?

            2. I have been wanting to try this...

              http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

              1. Taste them to see if they are rancid; normally, I agree with storing in the freezer. Not basic, but if you feel ambitious, there is a great recipe for Wheat Berry Bread in Anna Thomas's cookbook Vegetarian Epicure that I have been making for 30 years.
                www.littlecomptonmornings.blogspot.com

                1. I used to make wheatberry salad all the time. I say used to, because I made it so much we got a little tired of it. But it is perfect for this time of year.

                  Cook the wheat berries in boiling salted water for about 45 minutes. They should be still a little chewy/nutty but not hard. Drain and cool. Toss with chopped red onion, halved cherry tomatoes, cut off cooked corn, and cubed mozerella. Make a garlicky balsamic vinaigrette, use a little honey if you like, and toss. Add basil if you have it.
                  The original recipe called for 1/2 wheat berry and 1/2 pearled barley, but I didn't do that all the time.

                  I took this to a work pot-luck years ago. I worked with a lot of REALLY unsophisticated eaters...puddin' cake-eating-rednecks to be blunt...and it was well received. I was shocked.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: danna

                    I do a variation on this quite often, I love wheat berries. As noted above, they have a wonderful texture and they are really wholesome. I cook mine in Chicken Broth, to give them added flavor. Then I toss them with a lot of fresh, chopped raw vegetables - carrots, red and yellow peppers, corn, cherry tomatoes, celery, red onion, squash - whatever sounds good. I often add some feta cheese or goat cheese, crumbled. Toss with a good homemade vinaigrette and, as danna said, it will be very well received.

                  2. All the recipes thus far sound excellent and we are excited to try it. we'll probably be giving these a whirl over the weekend so that i can make sure they're properly cooked. It's really nice to expand my cooking repertoire a little bit. Thanks again!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: fudisgud

                      where do you buy them - would Wholefoods sell them.

                      I used to work at Cranks the vegetarian restaurant in London in the early 80s and we used to make a wheat dish with a cheese sauce, trying to rack my brains as to what else went in the dish, they called it wheat fricassee. It was delicious.

                      1. re: smartie

                        I get them at Whole Foods all the time.

                        1. re: Tom P

                          thanks

                    2. I use this one as a good basic recipe and vary it from time to time:

                      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                      It's part of a menu and a lot of the other things on the menu are good too.

                      1. there's a traditional Greek dish made with wheat berries that's slightly sweet; maybe your daughter would enjoy that more as an introduction to the grain...it involves cooked & drained wheat berries, pomegranate seeds, golden raisins, currants, almonds, and parsley. you would generally sprinkle in some granulated sugar (you could definitely use turbinado) and just serve at room temp. also, I've kept wheat berries in a dark cupboard for at least six months and they haven't gone rancid. good luck!

                        1. One of my favorite things to eat for breakfast as a kid was a mixed-berry yogurt with wheat berries mixed in. I loved the texture!

                          1. Just wanted to say thanks again, everyone! We ended up going with a wheatberry salad because it seemed like a good introductory way to eat it and we all really enjoyed it and are happy to add more food to our home cooked repertoire. We'll probably be eating this more often and are looking to trying more of the different recipes everyone shared here!