What are Wheat Berries?

Wheat berries photo
Wheat berries photo by Viorika Prikhodko / Getty Images

Never cooked with wheat berries before or just wondering what a wheat berry is? Check out this simple definition and guide for everything you need to know about wheat berries: cooking, freezing, nutritional information and more.

What are Wheat Berries?

Wheat Berries are the whole grain form of wheat - the whole, complete grain before it has undergone any processing. They're a high-fiber whole grain that can be used much like any other whole grain.

Because wheat berries are, quite literally, wheat, they are not gluten-free.

Wheat berries are the original source of all wheat products before any refinement occurs. So, for example, wheat flour is made from milled, ground wheat berries, and then made into bread. If you have a home mill (Or a Vitamix high-powered food processor), you can use wheat berries to make your own fresh wheat flour at home. 

Shopping for Wheat Berries

If you're new to cooking with whole grains or you've never tried wheat berries, hit up your local food co-op or Whole Foods and look for wheat berries in their bulk foods section, so you can try as little or as much as you'd like. Other grocery stores may sell wheat berries in the "natural foods" section, and I've occasionally seen them in the ethnic foods aisle alongside other whole grains such as freekeh and bulgur. 

Aside from the bulk foods section, Bob's Red Mill is one popular brand which sells packaged wheat berries, and if you can't find them locally, you can order from them online.

Here are a couple different kinds:

Wheat berries aren't trendy, compared to quinoa, so you might be surprised by just how affordable (that is, cheap!) they are compared to other whole grains.

How to Prepare Wheat Berries

Because they are a bit tough, whole grain wheat berries do take a long time to cook.

To prepare wheat berries, cover them with plenty of water and simmer in a covered pot for about one hour, or until soft.

Pair cooked wheat berries with a vegetable stir-fry or a sauce, or use it like you would use rice. For a quicker cooking time, wheat berries can be pre-soaked overnight, or even just for an hour or two.

Because of their dense texture, wheat berries also do well in the freezer, if you want to prepare them in advance. To freeze, cook wheat berries as you normally would and allow to cool completely, fluffing occasionally to allow steam and moisture to release as they cool. Then, transfer to an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to one month

Wheat Berry Recipes

Wheat Berry Nutritional Information

According to CalorieCount, one serving of wheat berries is 1/4 cup dry and contains 160 calories, with a total fat count of less than one gram of fat (0.5 grams). In addition, wheat berries provide 34.1 grams of carbohydrates, 174 mg of potassium, 6.4 grams of dietary fiber and 6.4 grams of protein. As well as potassium and dietary fiber, wheat berries are also an excellent source of iron, providing 9% of the total recommended daily intake.

 

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