One of my first experiences with wheat left me hating the stuff. I was pregnant, moody, and just wanted to package a couple cans of hot chocolate (my ultimate craving). Whenever you package food at the cannery you’re supposed to help others pack their stuff too, which isn’t a big deal, but there was a guy trying to pack an entire lifetimes worth of wheat (at least that’s how it felt).
3 hours later we finally finished, and as he was putting his stockpile in the car he asked what he was supposed to do with the stuff, and if he needed a wheat grinder. I was like, are you kidding?
You just made my prego, sweaty, moody self package like 1000 lbs of wheat and you don’t even know how to use it? I’m not trying to hate on people that don’t know how to use wheat, just on those that make me package 1000 lbs of it ;)
I don’t want any of you worrying about running into moody, pregnant women at the cannery, so I decided to find an expert on wheat to help you out. This girl knows a ton! How do I know? Because she wrote a book about the stuff – Kern L. Wheatberry’s Amazing Guide on Wheat . What I love about this book is she has written it in a way that it’s fun to read, easy to understand, and tells you exactly what you need to know about WHEAT!
I’ll stop rambling now and let Mitzi answer some of the most common questions about wheat!
What You Need to Know About Wheat!
Are you one of those people who buys hundreds of pounds of wheat, then turns around and stuffs it under your bed “in case of an emergency”?
Well, I used to be one of those people too… in fact, I am a little embarrassed to say that I didn’t even realize that wheat turned into flour when it was ground up! As I talked to other wheat-amateurs, I found out that they had little knowledge about wheat and its importance too. So I decided to make it a goal to learn all I could about wheat and how to use it in my everyday recipes so that my family and I could actually use it AND enjoy it.
I came to find out that wheat has been the main food source for thousands of years, and our generation doesn’t know much about it! Most of us know that you can make bread with wheat, but that is not the limit. You can make pizza dough, pretzels, tortillas, graham crackers, and sloppy joes, scones & cookies to name a few.
Shelf life of wheat: 30+ years
A kernel of wheat can keep its sprouting ability for thousands of years if stored properly. When storing wheat, 75 degrees or cooler is best. The cooler the temperature, the longer it can be stored.
Wheatberries that were found in the tombs of the Pharohs in Egypt still had all 26 vitamins and minerals…and it even had sprouting capability. That was over 2,000 years after it had been harvested!
What are the Different Types of Wheat?
Red wheat vs. White wheat
Red wheat is darker in color, heavier and more dense.
Flour made from ground red wheat has a stronger, slightly bitter taste–some describe it as nutty.
White wheat is lighter in color and texture.
Flour made from ground white wheat has a sweeter, more mellow taste.
Spring wheat vs. Winter wheat
Just as it sounds, Spring wheat is planted in the spring, grows over the summer, and is harvested in late summer and early fall. Most hard wheats are grown in the spring.
Winter wheat is planted in the fall, starts growing before cold weather hits, and then goes dormant for the winter. It continues growing in the spring and is harvested in early summer. Soft wheat is usually grown in the fall.
Hard wheat vs. Soft wheat
Hard wheat has high-protein content, which is best for baking breads and hard baked goods.
A protein content between 12%-15% is best when baking bread.
Soft wheat has lower protein content. It is best when used to bake cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, muffins, cookies and snack foods.
Protein Content: Why is it so important?
Protein, also know as gluten, gives bread dough its elasticity. Protein content ranges anywhere from 5%-15%. The protein content of flour is the main factor when determining what item to bake. For example, a higher protein content of 12%-15% (hard wheat) is best in baking breads; whereas a lower protein content (soft wheat) is better in baking cakes, pastries, pie crusts, etc.
Whole grains have many of the vitamins, minerals, and protein that your body needs. Fresh whole grains are low in fat, high in protein, and they provide energy for your body and muscles.
Since whole grains are high in fiber, eating it on a regular basis can help decrease risks for cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and stroke, while lowering cholesterol levels and building a healthy digestive system.
Did you know…
Freshly ground wheat flour is best! Use immediately for the most nutrition and best taste.
Within the first 24 hours after wheat has been ground into flour, it has lost 45% of its nutrients.
By the time 72 hours has passed, it has lost 90% of its nutritional value!
Shelf life of freshly ground wheat (flour):
- On the Counter: 3-5days
- Refrigerator: 10 days
- Freezer: 30 days
After this time frame, the flour will develop a bitter taste, and start to smell bad. It will give your baked goods an off-taste. This rancid odor is nature’s way of telling you not to eat it.
How do I store wheat?
Wheat is one of the longest storing food items available. Whole wheat kernels will store better and longer than when ground up into flour. Round containers are best for storing because wheat gives off heat. If square containers are used and stacked too closely together, it may not let the heat escape.
- Seal containers and keep in a COOL, DRY & DARK place–75 degrees or cooler is best
- Keep away from rodents and insects
- Raise containers slightly off the bare floor to allow for air circulation and prevent rusting
Rotate your Wheat often so it doesn’t get old…in other words… Eat It!
A few tips on wheat:
- Try using some whole wheat flour in desserts ~ everyone likes cookies!
- In recipes that call for flour, try any combination of wheat flour/white flour until you get used to the flavor and texture
- 1 cup whole wheat berries (kernels) = approximately 1 1/2 cups flour
- Grind only the amount of flour needed for your recipe, as most of the vitamins will oxidize within 3 days if not stored properly
- Cooked whole wheat berries or cracked wheat: Easy as 1-2-3: 1 c. wheat + 2 c. water + 1/2 tsp. salt = approximately 3 c. cooked wheat
- Substitute cooked whole wheat berries in place of pasta or rice
- Add whole wheat berries to your favorite soup
- Substitute cracked wheat in place of nuts in bread, gelatin, or green salads
- Use cracked wheat as a meat extender: Add 1/2 cup cooked cracked wheat for every pound of ground meat
This girl is amazing, she even has her 3-year old helping in the kitchen and he has personally tested every recipe in her book and has given his stamp of approval. Not only that, but he knows how to knead his own bread too. I’m super excited, because she will be sharing some of the most popular wheat recipes in the coming months, so start pulling out all that wheat from under the bed! You don’t have to wait on us though, you can get her book and start testing the recipes out for yourself!
Be honest, do you actually USE your WHEAT, or just store it?