Are you looking for a nutritious, easy-to-prepare grain that has endless possibilities? Then look no further than wheat berries. This hearty, yet surprisingly versatile grain can be cooked in numerous ways and incorporated into countless recipes. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the basics of cooking with wheat berries so you can start making flavorful dishes today!
What are Wheat Berries?
Wheat berries are whole grains harvested from wheat plants. They have a chewy texture and nutty flavor that makes them perfect for salads, pilafs, soups, breads, and more. Wheat berries can be found in most health food stores or online.
How to Prepare Wheat Berries Before Cooking
Before cooking wheat berries, it is important to rinse them thoroughly under running water. You may also want to soak them overnight before using them in recipes, as this will help soften the tough outer layer of the grain.
Boiling vs. Baking Wheat Berries
Wheat berries can be boiled or baked depending on the recipe you’re using. Boiling takes longer but yields softer, plumper grains. To boil wheat berries, add one cup of rinsed wheat berries to three cups of boiling water and cook for 45 minutes until tender. Baked wheat berries require less liquid and less time – just one cup of rinsed wheat berries in two cups of cold water. Bake at 375°F for 25 minutes. Both methods yield perfectly cooked wheat berries that are ready to use in recipes.
Flavoring and Topping Ideas for Wheat Berries
Once your wheat berries are cooked, there are plenty of ways to make them even tastier. Try adding butter, olive oil, fresh herbs, cheese, nuts, dried fruit, honey, or maple syrup to give your wheat berries an extra kick of flavor. If you prefer savory over sweet toppings, try stirring in some roasted vegetables, bacon, or crumbled sausage. The possibilities are endless!
Using Precooked Wheat Berries in Recipes
If you don’t have time to prepare the wheat berries from scratch, pre-cooked varieties are available in most grocery stores. These are great for salads and side dishes where the texture of the grain is not as important. Just make sure to check the ingredients list before purchasing to ensure there are no added sugars or preservatives.
Health Benefits of Eating Wheat Berries
In addition to being delicious and versatile, wheat berries are full of essential vitamins and minerals that support overall health and wellness. They contain fiber which helps keep digestion regular and aids in weight loss; they are rich in antioxidants which fight off free radicals; they provide B vitamins which aid in energy production; and they are a good source of iron which supports healthy blood cells.
Substituting Other Grains for Wheat Berries
While wheat berries are highly nutritious and tasty, they may not be suitable for everyone. People who suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivities should avoid eating wheat berries as they contain gluten. Fortunately, other types of grains like quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and oats can be used as substitutes in most recipes.
Storage Tips for Leftover Wheat Berries
Leftover cooked wheat berries can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. If you’d like to store them for longer periods of time, freeze the cooked wheat berries in a freezer-safe bag for up to six months. When ready to use again, simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator or reheat in a microwave or on the stovetop.
Nutritional Information for Wheat Berries
One cup of cooked wheat berries contains approximately 220 calories, 1 gram of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of protein, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 10 milligrams of sodium, and 20% of the daily recommended amount of iron.
Quick & Easy Wheat Berry Recipes
Ready to get cooking with wheat berries? Here are a few simple recipes that highlight the nutty flavor and chewy texture of this amazing grain:
- Lemon-Herb Wheat Berry Salad: Combine cooked wheat berries with spinach, feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, mint leaves, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature.
- Cheesy Bacon-Wrapped Wheat Berries: Wrap each cooked wheat berry in a slice of bacon then sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F until the bacon is crisp (approximately 15 minutes). Serve warm with ranch dressing or BBQ sauce on the side.
- Slow Cooker Chicken Soup with Wheat Berries: Add cooked chicken breast pieces, diced onion and carrots, canned tomato puree, broth and cooked wheat berries to a slow cooker set on low heat. Let simmer for 8 hours then garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
We hope this beginner’s guide to cooking with wheat berries was helpful! As you can see, wheat berries offer endless possibilities when it comes to meal prep – from quick and easy weeknight dinners to gourmet holiday dishes. With their high nutritional value and unique flavor profile, these little grains are sure to become a staple in your kitchen.
I am an inspired, life-long homesteader with a heart for simple, sustainable living. Growing up surrounded by farmland in the rural Midwest, I developed a deep respect for nature and the rewards of cultivating your own land. That’s why I’m passionate about helping others become homesteaders, too. Through my website therootedhomestead.com, I share my DIY tips, share inspiring stories of other homesteaders, and provide resources for anyone who dreams of growing their own food or living off the land. I hope to open a door to a more joyful, meaningful and purposeful life for all.