Food Storage: Using Your Wheat

Alright, this will be our last post on wheat for a little while. We’re going to move on to other grains. But before we move on, I wanted to make sure you don’t get all this wheat and then not have a clue what to do with it. So here are the main things you can do with wheat…

Wheat Flour
This is obviously the most common thing we do with wheat… we grind it! If you do not have a wheat grinder, I strongly suggest you start saving up for one. They can be a little pricey, but are well worth the investment. Especially when you consider how much less expensive it is to grind your own whole grains versus purchasing expensive whole grain flour in the store. And honestly… isn’t your family’s health and well-being worth it? I also recommend getting a hand-crank grinder for emergency purpose use. Another expense, but you’ll be glad you’ve got it when there’s no electricity and you’re sitting there with buckets and buckets of wheat. (*Hint*… you could also ask for these as Christmas, birthday, or anniversary gifts. Our electric wheat grinder was a wedding present and our hand-crank was a Christmas present. So we didn’t even have to spend any money on them!) Anyway, once you’ve ground your wheat into flour, you can use it to make any and all of your baking needs that call for flour; breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, tortillas, etc. And you’ll find that if you use fresh ground flour, your baked goods will turn out so much better because the flour is so vital right after it’s ground (especially versus flour that’s been sitting on a store shelf for who knows how long).

Cooked Wheat Berries
Instead of grinding wheat, you can also just cook it. Cooked wheat berries are similar in texture to other cooked grains such as barley, brown rice, and oat groats. You can use cooked wheat berries as a breakfast cereal in the morning, or you can add it to soups, salads, and pilafs.

To cook wheat berries combine 1 cup of rinsed wheat berries with 3 cups of water and a dash of salt in a medium saucepan. (Note: some people say to soak your berries overnight before you cook them. This is not needed, but you can do it if you’d like.) Bring the contents to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer gently until plump and chewy and the berries start to split open (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse. You can serve them hot right away, or cover in an air-tight container and refrigerate for 3-5 days or freeze for up to 1 month. (You can just reheat them in the microwave when you want them hot.)
You can also try cooking these in your slow-cooker over night on low for 8 hours to have breakfast waiting for you in the morning. AND you can cook them in your rice cooker too (which is the way I have cooked mine). So many possibilities! 🙂

So far I’ve tried adding cooked wheat berries to my fruit and yogurt bowls, to a bowl of cold cereal in the morning, to a cheddar broccoli rice side dish, and to pancake mix. The rice dish was probably the most successful in terms of getting people to eat it. I didn’t mind it in the other dishes as well, but it’s definitely different (and probably not something I will do on a regular basis). I recommend starting off by adding only small amounts. The flavor and texture takes a little getting used to, so don’t go overboard right off the bat. You can dress wheat berries up as much as you’d like and play around with a bunch of different flavor combinations.  Try using juice or broth in place of the water, or toasting the berries prior to cooking. Here’s a recipe for a Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl you can try to get your creativity started (see picture above for a glimpse).

Sprouting Wheat
Sprouting is the process of adding water to seeds, grains, or even nuts to help them become ‘alive’ (just as if you were going to sprout seeds to plant in your garden to grow). This is an area in which I have only dabbled… and I use that term liberally. Technically I’ve tried it once. 🙂 It worked, then I didn’t know what to do with my sprouts, so they sat there and went moldy, I threw them out, and haven’t tried it again since. But sprouting is a good way to get good nutrition in you. It can even increase the amount of nutrients and vitamins in whatever you are sprouting. Granted, I believe there is some controversy over which form is more nutritious (I believe there are trade-offs for each side), but the point is that it is highly nutritious. AND, when you sprout something you give life to it. It now has living enzymes. And when you eat them, that life is transfered to you which brings about it’s own set of benefits, among which is that it can help give you increased energy. So… to sprout or not to sprout. That is the question. 🙂 For me, the process was not really rewarding enough to do it on a regular basis, but then again, I’m basing this only on one experience. Perhaps I may do it occasionally for some fun with the kiddos, or even more often once I learn more about different things to sprout and how to use them. My journey with sprouts is definitely not over, but there are just other things I would like to explore first. 🙂 But really, it’s pretty easy, it only takes about 2-4 days before they’re ready to eat, and it’s kinda cool to see these little things growing in your own home. So if you’ve ever had an inclination to try it, check out some of these videos to learn more about it… click HERE and HERE.

Wheat Meat
I have not yet attempted this process, but I know it is an option and therefore wanted to put it out to you. Creating wheat meat is done by washing your wheat flour until you are left with just the gluten (or you can start with just vital wheat gluten), seasoning the gluten, adding water/broth to create a rubbery mixture, and then boiling, frying, baking, or even grilling your ‘meat’. I will definitely try this at some point and share my information with you, but until then, if you are interested in exploring this further, you can check out the Preparedness Pro blog for her instructions or search the internet for more information on how to create ‘wheat meat’. Otherwise, stay posted until I get a chance to delve into this interesting arena. 🙂

*Reminder* Don’t forget to drink lots of water when you’re eating a lot of whole grains (especially if you’re just starting to incorporate them into your diet!)

So get going on using your wonderful wheat and start enjoying some delicious, nutritious, better-for-you foods. It’ll be sure to put a smile on your face. 🙂

Photos courtesy of: mybaby.com; 101Cookbooks.com; 11th Heaven’s Homemaking Heaven; and PreparednessPro.com respectively

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