A bowl of wheat berries is one of the most wholesome ways to eat grains, but few people have heard of them, or even know how the heck to cook them.
Not quite an oat and not quite a seed, they might strike you as a little different at first, but these powerful little grains pack a big punch with energy and essential nutrients. These unsung superfoods are rich in iron, protein, fiber, potassium, vitamins B1 and B3, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, selenium, and copper, and provide incredible lasting energy!
What Are Wheat Berries?
Wheat berries are the unprocessed, completely unrefined form of wheat before it becomes flour and other grain products. Its whole and unaltered state contributes to its big nutritional boost, and its unprocessed texture is great for adding fiber to your diet.
How Do You Cook Wheat Berries?
The first thing you need to know about wheat berries is they’re HARD, and they require some major soaking and heating to soften them up and make them palatable for people teeth. Much like dried beans, wheat berries need to be rinsed and soaked in warm water for several hours before they’re ready to eat, so make sure you leave plenty of time to prep them.
Here’s how to get wheat berries soft and ready to eat:
Soak them overnight: One of my favorite ways to cook them because you don’t need to watch anything on the stove, just add some wheat berries to a big thermos, add some boiling water (leaving room for those berries expand), seal, and let sit overnight. When you wake up the berries will be tender, warm and ready to eat!
Boil them. If you need wheat berries and you need ‘em now, you can boil them to tenderness in right around an hour on the stovetop. Add some wheat berries, water, and a pinch of salt to a pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot, and let them cook for about an hour, or until tender.
Put them in the slowcooker. Because who doesn’t love breaking out their slow cooker? Add your wheat berries to your slow cooker with about three times as much water or broth, and let them cook on high for 3-4 hours with the lid on until they’re nice and tender.
Use a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers are perfect for cooking wheat berries in a pinch. Just add your berries to the cooker with about twice as much water, lock the lid down, and cook on high until the pot reaches high pressure. Lower the heat as much as you can without losing pressure, and cook the wheat berries for another 30 minutes.
Use a rice cooker. Rice cookers are another easy way to cook wheat berries without having to watch a pot. Just add the wheat berries to the pot with about four times as much water, and let the pressure cooker do its thing! The entire process usually takes just over an hour, and the berries will be kept warm and tender once the water has evaporated.
Wheat Berry Recipes
A lot of people don’t mess around with cooking wheat berries simply because they don’t know how the heck they’re supposed to eat them, but there are several ways to enjoy these nutritious little grains! Check out these great recipes and get inspired to try wheat berries this week!
Put apples and cranberries in just about anything, and you can count me in. This recipe combines the super nutritional benefits of wheat berries with maple syrup, apples, dried cranberries, and pecans for an easy make-and-take meal that’s just perfect for fall!
Wheat berries are a great food for vegetarians, thanks to their high protein content. Try them in this chili recipe with all of your favorite fixins’ for a filling meal that you can leave in the slow cooker all day.
This filling breakfast is just what the doctor ordered on a chilly September morning. The recipe calls for raisins, but add baked apples or even a bit of pumpkin puree if that’s your jam. Make it vegan with almond milk, or use some creamy, local, full fat cream-on-the-top milk from Kalispell Kreamery.
Wheat berries, and an excuse to eat goat cheese — what more do you need? This incredibly refreshing salad is light but richly nutritious, with fresh strawberries and creamy goat cheese tossed in a mint citrus vinaigrette. Fancy some greens? Serve it on a bed of fresh spinach for an iron-rich meal that your body will love you for.
Caramel apples for breakfast? Yes, please! This recipe is easy peasy, with caramel coffee creamer and sweet honeycrisp apples muddled together in a creamy breakfast that feels more like a dessert than anything (but we won’t tell anyone).
This healthy take on an old favorite calls for brown rice, but we say kick it up a notch and use wheat berries instead. Season them with cumin, chili powder, a bit of cayenne, and some salt and pepper to add a little kick, and top with copious amounts of fresh veggies and cheese for a meal that covers all of your nutritional bases.
This unique, light salad is a great way to shake things up a bit in the salad department. Hoisin sauce is good on, well, pretty much anything, but on this combination of wheat berries and veggies, it’s crisp and flavorful, without leaving you feeling too full to sneak in an egg roll.
Ready to try some of these recipes out yourself? Stop into one of our delis for a fresh pastry and pick up a bag of our own Montana grown wheat berries!