Happy Herbivore Blog

January 20, 2012

What are Wheat Berries?

Wheat berries, or wheatberries, are the entire edible part of wheat kernels, meaning there is no hull (or outer shell) but includes the germ, bran and endosperm. 

They can be hard or soft, with the hard berries often being used for baking, like bread, and the soft berries for pastries. Hard wheat berries also tend to have a higher protein and gluten content than soft wheat berries.

Besides being hard or soft, wheat berries can also be red or white. This refers to the color of the wheat, whether it is white or red. Red wheat has more of a darker, tannish color. Sometimes they are also labeled by the season they are grown in, whether it is spring or winter.

The different types of wheat berries can usually be interchanged when cooking, although if using red berries the final dish may be a little darker in color and hard berries will take longer to cook (regardless of color).

It is the the white wheat berry that is used to make whole white wheat flour - not to be confused with white flour, which has been refined and missing most of the wheat kernel. Whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from the red wheat berry.

All wheat products are made from some part, if not all, of the wheat berry. Wheat berries do contain gluten, so people who are intolerant of gluten foods should avoid them.

Wheat berries can be cooked into foods, like chili or bread, but you can eat them on a salad or as a side by themselves, like rice.

Wheat berries are becoming more popular, and are available at most health food stores or online here.

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