Wheat berries: what are they and how do I cook with them?

wheat berries

Wheat is the most commonly consumed grain in the United States. Wheat berries, however, are relatively uncommon in American kitchens. Wheat berries are the edible part of the wheat kernel. They include the bran, germ and the endosperm before the grain undergoes any processing or any refinement occurs.  

Wheat berries are wheat in its most basic form: whole grain kernels with only the inedible husk removed. With the kernel intact, wheat berries maintain all their nutrients. They are high in fiber, iron, and protein and are a good source of magnesium and vitamin E. Furthermore, they are low in calories and fat. But how do you cook with them?  

Wheat berries can be used like any other whole grain. To prepare wheat berries, cover them with water and bring them to a boil. Simmer them in a covered pot until soft, about an hour. They can be soaked in water overnight for quicker cooking.  

Add wheat berries to salads, soups, side dishes or as a substitute for rice! You can even add them to a food processor to make fresh wheat flour. Wheat berries have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and work well in both sweet and savory dishes.  

SweetGrass is proud to offer three varieties of wheat berries from Ramona Farms, a Native-owned operation on the Gila River Indian Reservation near Sacaton, Arizona. The three varieties of wheat berries available include: Durum, Pima Club, and White Sonora.  

Durum wheat berries have an “al dente” (chewy) texture when boiled and are rich in amino acids.  

Pima Club wheat berries are an heirloom wheat of the Akimel O’odham people. They are a soft white wheat variety used for baking breads and pastries which require baking powder as a leavening agent. 

The White Sonora is a soft, white, low gluten wheat that was brought to the Akimel O’odham people more than 300 years ago by Padre Eusabio Kino, a Jesuit missionary from Spain.  

Visit our website to purchase your own wheat berries. The Ramona Farms website also contains helpful information as well as a delicious wheat berry, beet and pecan salad with pomegranate-orange vinaigrette recipe.