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Wheat berries

g
Guenevere Jan 18, 2009 06:34 PM

I just bought a hundred pounds of wheat berries, in anticipation of tough economic times. I would like suggestions for them. I am thinking wheat pilaf, blender wheat waffles and pancakes, and of course, bread. But what are some other good ideas.

  1. Mawrter Jan 21, 2009 08:19 PM

    Makes a difference whether it's hard winter wheat or ... um, the other kind. Check out _Italian_Farmhouse_Cooking_ (if that kind of thing appeals to you) - she talks about wheat berries and that's usually my got-o source for them. I just made them the other night & served them with meat sauce & salad on the side.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mawrter
      g
      Guenevere Feb 1, 2009 09:23 AM

      Okay, I was out on business for a while, so I missed some comments.

      I do feel as if I need to clarify my situation to dodge some of the comments here.

      First of all, I do know what to do with wheat, I was looking for new ideas. I do have a wheat grinder, and I make 100% wheat bread and lots of other pastries. I just knew that there had to be more out there. And you guys have some really great ideas, I never thought of grain pie, or the wheat fricassee and the other stuff. Thanks so much.

      I canned it in large metal cans at a do it- yourself cannery in my area {my area has a lot of Mormons, and they often have canneries that anyone can use} and my cost was way cheap, because I got the wheat through them.

      http://www.providentliving.org/pfw/mu...

      Also, my husband is about to get laid off, although I work, and the last time we had financial problems, we ate cracked wheat cereal in the morning for pennies, so stocking up for hard times on a staple that I love and know is nutricious made sense.

      People gave some great ideas. Thanks.

    2. s
      smartie Jan 21, 2009 02:32 PM

      at Cranks in London the vegetarian restaurants of the 70s and 80s we used to make what they called Wheat Fricassee. It's 20+ years since I made it there but if memory serves me well is was pretty much cooked wheat berries in a cheese sauce with cooked carrots and leeks. Then I think we baked it in the oven with some cheese on top.

      1. k
        karykat Jan 21, 2009 10:10 AM

        I like this Waldorf wheat berry salad. It has apples, celery, walnuts, dried cranberries, mint, a really good dressing . . . . and wheat berries.

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

        1. g
          GilaB Jan 20, 2009 08:45 AM

          You can use it as you would barley in stews.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GilaB
            paulj Jan 20, 2009 09:14 AM

            But cook it till nearly tender first. Pearled barley cooks much faster than whole wheat grains.

          2. h
            HLing Jan 19, 2009 07:07 PM

            I was going to ask whether you can grind your wheat berries though Paulj beat me to it.
            Though I didn't get it solely "in anticipation of tough economic times", a while back I got myself a stone quern - a manual stone grinder- and I've been playing (and making food) with various grains in their whole state. Here's some: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/471680

            At first, I've found that stone grinding dry wheat berries may be slightly better than the conventional way of grain mills. I have found a way to sieve the flour and at one point was separating them into 4 different sizes. (The best ingredients for Graham Cracker comes from this!) Whole wheat flour ground this way tastes totally different from the whole wheat flour you get from the stores.

            but...then there's the theory about fortifying and aging flour, about how nutrients are lost from the moment the dry grain is broken apart....I never got to figure out how on the one hand you want to prevent nutrient-loss by using it quickly, and on the other hand, that you need to age it by leaving it out for 2 weeks to oxidize???

            So now, it's mostly back to soaking the wheat berries first, as if to sprout them., Then drain and grain with small amounts of water added. Wet-ground whole wheat is really delicious. In fact, at the semi-sprout stage (where you see a dot of white on each grain) , the wet-grind has a refreshing grassy smell on top of the creamy smell of wheat. Edit: you mentioned making bread, so I wanted add that the wet-ground wheat has great potential for to be dough starters, as it certainly has a much more complex smell and taste then dry flour mixed with water.

            Anyhow, don't worry you'll never run out of things to do with the 100 lbs of wheat berries.

            May I ask how/where you got the wheat berries, and whether they are hard or soft wheat? I'm paying something like $1.30 per lbs for them, but if it can be cheaper by the hundred pounds..I might have to look into that soon!

            Thanks!

            4 Replies
            1. re: HLing
              paulj Jan 19, 2009 07:27 PM

              Sprouted wheat, after toasting, has a mild malt flavor (just not as strong as barley).

              1. re: HLing
                t
                tempehtempeh Jan 20, 2009 12:13 PM

                HLing, re hard or soft: is one better in bread, and how about differences vis-a-vis other uses? Thanks!

                1. re: tempehtempeh
                  h
                  HLing Jan 21, 2009 04:26 PM

                  tempehtempeh,

                  In very general term hard wheat flour is better for bread, pizza, pasta, and soft wheat flour better for cakes and pastry. But that gets tricky as many factor depends on the milling method and treatment. Also, conventional flour you get in the stores are a blend of flours from different types of wheat.

                  From my own stone-grinding experience, i've found the hard red wheat to be indeed harder, but then the bran is thinner and separates quite cleanly from the finer powdery endosperm in dry grinding; soft wheat in dry grinding I find less yield of the finer flour (compared to the hard wheat) as the bran seem thicker even though it is softer. Not sure if that makes sense?

                  In any case, the above is from manually stone grinding the dry wheat berries.

                  1. re: HLing
                    t
                    tempehtempeh Feb 6, 2009 11:38 AM

                    Thanks very much, HLing - this is very helpful. And if you're using wheat berries whole in a bread, do you know if one kind is beter than the other?

              2. paulj Jan 19, 2009 06:22 PM

                A related question is: what are practical ways of grinding whole wheat? I think my parents sent theirs out to some small scale mill, but most of us don't have access to anything like that. I've seen 'grind it yourself' stations in bulk food section of some fancy groceries. Maybe a good food processor is enough. You might also want to invest in good sieve or two. I believe traditional fine ones were made from horse hair.

                Anyways, being able to crack and grind that wheat will give you many more options for using it.

                1. coll Jan 19, 2009 12:35 PM

                  I believe that is the grain in Italian Grain Pie, and Easter is right around the corner. Maybe make a bunch and sell them, they go for at least $20 around here.

                  1. HaagenDazs Jan 19, 2009 10:32 AM

                    It is also known as farro, so keep an eye out for recipes with that word in it.

                    I'm not sure if buying 100 pounds is really going to help you survive this economic winter (we aren't exactly at the stage of eating donkey meat just yet are we?!) but good luck with the venture - my guess is at about 50 pounds down, you're going to get rather tired of eating this stuff but to each their own.

                    In any case, make sure you store this product properly. Like all grains they are very prone to spoilage especially in their whole state like this (with the bran attached). Insects LOVE this stuff and the massive quantity you have only makes it harder to control. Among other things that love whole wheat like this: rodents and fungus. If you can store this in a refrigerated state, that is optimal. At that amount you'll likely need a separate refrigerator or freezer but that ups electrical bills and the advantage of having something like this in bulk in nullified. Just be aware that the bran is very prone to turning rancid. I just hope you've done a little research on storage before jumping into the venture!

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: HaagenDazs
                      h
                      HLing Jan 19, 2009 02:35 PM

                      actually, grains in whole state like this are much less prone to spoilage than in the flour, or separated state. The germ can go rancid quickly as soon as the whole state is broken up, but otherwise, it can keep as a seed for a long time if kept in a cool, dry place. So, if it's whole wheat flour, than you might consider refridgerating, but if in whole wheat berry form, just keep in dry cool place will be fine.

                      Also, consider this: Lemon is a fruit, but a fruit is not necessary a lemon. We often see Farro in the form of wheat berries, but not all wheat berries are farro.

                      1. re: HaagenDazs
                        g
                        Guenevere Jan 19, 2009 05:20 PM

                        Well, I'm sure it will help--giving me some comfort at the very least. Wheat can keep almost forever if stored properly [and mine is]--I read somewhere that the Egyptian tombs contained wheat that was still edible when they were opened thousands of years later.

                        Donkey meat? I think I prefer wheat.

                        Thanks for the suggestions everyone.

                        1. re: Guenevere
                          HaagenDazs Jan 20, 2009 04:45 AM

                          OK maybe I'm wrong - I'm comparing it to something like brown rice which I why I mention spoilage. In any case, I'm sticking with the bugs, rodents, and moisture issues. ;-)

                          I'm comparing this venture to those people who ate donkey meat during the depression era because there wasn't anything else. My point was that we're not exactly at a stage where we're lining up for rations, so to invest in this product "in anticipation of tough economic times" sounds a little strange to me. You know like all those people that built bunkers for Y2K. Fun idea, good to have in a tornado I suppose, but is it really necessary and practical? Now maybe you just have space for an extra 100 pounds of grain lying around the house...?

                          1. re: HaagenDazs
                            t
                            tmso Jan 20, 2009 05:39 AM

                            Perhaps she's expecting a rapid rise in wheat berry prices? 50kg is a standard size for rice, and if you have a family isn't actually all that much rice. When prices shot up on that grain, people bought several sacks at a time to stock up, insuring against future price rises.

                            Maybe I should stock up on champagne and foie gras in, uh, anticipation for tough economic times?

                            1. re: tmso
                              HaagenDazs Jan 20, 2009 05:48 AM

                              "50kg is a standard size for rice"

                              Maybe in Japan, but not in the United States.

                              Granted I know of several places here in Atlanta where I can grab a big burlap bag full of grain, but most grocery stores I visit don't have 100+ pound bags just sitting around. I cook rice often enough, but it would take me a long time of eating rice EVERY DAY to work through that much.

                              ...And yes, even for a family 100+ pounds of anything is a lot. Imagine if you bought everything in 100 lb sizes. You'd be sleeping on your food as well as eating it!

                              1. re: HaagenDazs
                                t
                                tmso Jan 20, 2009 05:58 AM

                                Yes, it's a standard size even in the US. If you go to stores catering to Asian populations, you'll see sacks or rice going up to 50kg. Certainly in California. You wouldn't want to buy everything in 50kg sacks, but I had a friend in college who started out the year buying a 50kg sack of rice and another of pinto beans. They were a bit prominent in his kitchen. In contrast, my 50 pounds of pasta looked quite reasonable.

                                But I was being facetious there -- since the OP doesn't even know what to do with wheat berries, I'm pretty sure this isn't a case of buying a great big bag for convenience.

                                1. re: tmso
                                  HaagenDazs Jan 20, 2009 06:05 AM

                                  Gotcha - I caught that sarcasm after I posted, sorry. ;-)

                                  By standard sizes, I meant you can find them anywhere which just isn't the case. If walk into Joe Blow Kroger in Anywhere, USA you will not find a 110 pound bag of rice along side the 2 and 5 pound bag sizes under the pre-seasoned Mexican rice bags. Granted, you can easily find them in Asian markets and that's what I was referring to, but when you say "standard" I'm talking about waltz into any store and expect to find that size.

                                2. re: HaagenDazs
                                  l
                                  lLACEY2001 Feb 6, 2009 08:32 AM

                                  Does anyone remember Aesop and his fables??? Well there is one I learned as a child…it goes..

                                  IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
                                  “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
                                  “I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
                                  “Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:
                                  “IT IS BEST TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYS OF NECESSITY.”


                                  HaagenDazs, you scoff at people who have enough to have to sleep on it… I would rather be sleeping on my wheat storage than a soft feather bed. When I am eating bread I will be watching you try to eat your feathers. My husband is a retired Army cook… so we don't have a ‘pantry’ we have a ration room. It is the size of a small bedroom and we are wishing we had a larger one. I think all of you are missing one point here… you DO NOT store this stuff indefinitely…there is a ‘new’ concept out there call ROTATION. No one should expect to jump in and use these ‘whole grain’s’ without first getting our bodies use to it first. In other words, learn to use it in your everyday life, store what you will use, and rotate your supply. Date the container when you get it, use the older first and then as you use it replace it. IT IS CALLED ROTATION. If you do it like this you won’t have any worries about spoilage. There is also one cheap sure fire way of keeping the bugs out of grains and flour. For every 10 lbs of grain/flour put 3-4 whole bay leaves in the container. This will keep the bugs away and will NOT change the taste of the product. One great storage idea is the big white buckets you can buy cheap from Wal-mart/ Home Depot type places. The ones with the really tight lid and handle on them.

                                  Yes, HaagenDazs, I do sleep on my food storage but not the wheat. Hidden under our bed are cases of canned goods that we rotate. It is things we use on a weekly, monthly bases, tuna, canned corn, other canned meats, even my husbands favorites sardines….YUCKY. We buy that type of thing in case lots and they are less expensive that way too so it helps us if there is a shortage in the stores someday in the future and with our monthly budget helping us stretch the cash. Who doesn’t want to do that these days.

                                  1. re: lLACEY2001
                                    coll Feb 6, 2009 11:01 AM

                                    Wow I love the idea of the bay leaves, I have plenty of them on hand. Once I had earwigs get into my dry stuff and had to throw it all out, I'm still sad to this day.

                        2. Tom P Jan 19, 2009 09:43 AM

                          I often make a Wheat Berry Salad that is great:

                          Prepare the wheat berries (I use chicken broth instead of water for more flavor... Vegetable broth would also work). Drain and rise them and let them cool.

                          In the meantime, dice vegetables:

                          carrots
                          red and yellow bell pepper
                          celery
                          red onion...

                          whatever sounds good, you could use corn, peas, string beans... I like to use all of them raw but you could blanch some of them if you like.

                          Toss the cooled wheat berries with the vegetables, homemade vinaigrette, a few herbs (basil, thyme, chives...whatever you have on hand) and some crumbled goat cheese or feta. Great taste, nice crunch and very healthy. It will keep a few days in the fridge as well.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Tom P
                            c
                            CathleenH Jan 21, 2009 03:25 PM

                            Yes, wheat berry salad is also great when made with sauteed carrots and onions (or scallions), dried fruits (like golden raisins, cranberries and chopped apricot), parsley and maple-mustard-sherry vinegar vinaigrette.

                          2. ourhomeworks Jan 19, 2009 09:16 AM

                            Heidi at 101 cookbooks just posted a great wheatberry recipe yesterday...
                            http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/wheat-berry-breakfast-bowl-recipe.html

                            -Amy
                            http://ourhomeworks.com

                            1. paulj Jan 18, 2009 08:36 PM

                              Reminds me of something my parents did years ago. A neighbor had leased a field and planted wheat. My parents bough something like half a fiber drum of wheat. I remember them cooking some whole overnight in the double boiler. They also sent some out in batches for cracking; this was sifted. The fine parts was used as whole wheat flour, and the rest as cracked wheat cereal. I think this wheat lasted several years.

                              Once cooked the wheat berries can be flavored in various ways. It can be sweetened. There is, for example, a sweet Lebanese dish that is often prepared for memorials. There are also salads. I'm not familiar with savory preparations, but I can imagine using cooked berries this way.

                              For a start I'd suggest cooking them with just a bit of salt, at a time when you aren't in any rush. They'll may take longer to cook than you expect.

                              1. h
                                hankstramm Jan 18, 2009 07:58 PM

                                Rejuvelac is an awesome slightly fermented drink with almost mystical properties.

                                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rejuvelac

                                In the process of making it, you're half way to sprouting wheat grass. You can use it as starter for multiple different raw foods--raw vegan/nut cheeses and also certain breads.

                                1. c oliver Jan 18, 2009 07:29 PM

                                  Wow, 100# !!!! I'm impressed. But thanks for reminding me of a recipe I haven't fixed in a few years. It's in Martha Stewart Healthy Quick cookbook:

                                  http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/w...

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