Friday, February 27, 2009

Berries of Wheat

In light of all the wonderful wheat berries we've gotten lately, I feel compelled to share some of the recipes and ideas I've come across to use these little gems. Keep in mind that there is a difference between "soft" and "hard" wheat berries (think white rice vs. brown rice...), and I believe we are getting the "hard" kind. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if you cooked the hard ones much longer you could get a nice soft-chewy kernel instead.

I have found that it is not necessary to soak the wheat berries before cooking them as some sources suggest. I simply bring them to a boil and let them cook over medium-low heat (a high simmer if there is such a thing) for an hour or so until they're cooked. Soaking would probably help them cook a bit faster, though. I am intrigued to try cooking them overnight in my slow-cooker to see how well that works, but definitely you can cut your cooking time in half or less by using a pressure cooker! I am also curious if decent results could be achieved from pulsing cooked wheat berries briefly in the blender or food processor to get a different texture (and one that could be used in baking, for instance)--I will be trying it soon and let you know! You can also grind the berries before cooking, but be sure to use a glass jar and a blender or grinder with a strong motor.

Wheat berries are...

...discussed here, including different cooking methods in Wheat Berries 101.

...used in authentic Ukrainian grain pudding called Kutya or's very yummy!

...combined with yogurt and spices for a refreshing COLD Middle-Eastern soup (may have to save this one for summer).

...made into a sweet, vegan, Indian pudding with cardamom and cashews!

(or in this traditional Indian dessert:

...baked into a crustless quiche (in which chard or other greens can substitute for the spinach)!

...puffed (or popped?) in a hot skillet to be combined with other granola ingredients...!

...served with lentils in a hearty salad.

...combined with dill (if you have any left!) in this wintery salad with cranberries and pecans.

...tossed with apple and ham in another filling meal-sized-salad.

...combined with mashed beans, herbs, spices and an egg (or soaked flax seed) to make yummy chewy veggie burger patties...recipe coming soon!

Happy Cooking!

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