Curious about wheatberries? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Between this gorgeous wheatberry salad and all the tips and info you’ll find in this article, you’ll be a wheatberry expert in no time! First, I’ll share the recipe for this flavor bursting Saskatoon and Wheatberry Salad. It’s a great way to explore the chewy, nutty texture of wheatberry. Don’t have saskatoons, don’t worry you can easily substitute them for apples, since saskatoons are actually members of the apple family (true story, learn more in the Prairie Fruit Cookbook).
Following the recipe, I’ll take you through the most commonly asked questions about wheatberries. If you’re new to this whole grain, you’ll definitely want to scroll down to discover…
- What are Wheatberries?
- What’s the Difference Between Wheatberries, Farro, Spelt, Kamut, etc?
- What do Wheatberries Look and Taste Like?
- How do you Cook Wheatberries?
- Do Wheatberries Need to be Soaked?
- How do you Store Wheatberries?
- How do you Freeze Wheatberries?
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 3/4 cup wheatberries
- 2 stalks celery
- 1/4 red pepper
- 1/4 yellow pepper
- 1/4 green pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 3/4 cup saskatoons fresh or frozen (thawed)
- In screw top jar, combine oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper. Shake vigorously until well mixed. Set aside.
- Rinse and drain wheatberries. Place in medium saucepan and cover with 1 to 2 inches of water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 50 minutes until tender. Drain any remaining water and cool.
- Dice celery, red, yellow and green peppers.
- In a medium sized salad bowl, toss together wheatberries, peppers, parsley and green onions.
- Add dressing and mix well.
- Gently fold in saskatoons.
- Serve and enjoy.
- Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Makes 4 cups
What are Wheatberries?
Wheatberries are raw wheat kernels. Yup, that’s right, just regular wheat kernels grown all over the Canadian and US Prairies typically used to make flour and pasta. Wheatberries are considered a whole grain since they retain all of the bran, germ and endosperm, only the the outer husk is missing (more prominent on some varieties than others).
Like other whole grains, wheatberries are high in fibre, low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. A great addition to a healthy diet. Unless, of course, you are gluten intolerant, because yes, wheatberries do contain gluten.
What’s the Difference Between Wheatberries, Farro, Spelt, Kamut, etc?
The kernels from any variety of wheat can be called wheatberries – red hard spring wheat, einkorn, spelt, farro, kamut, durum, etc. Consider the term “wheatberries” similar to the term rice – it refers to a particular genus (Triticum) with various species. Just like different rice varieties, there are different wheat varieties. In the kitchen, sometimes any type of wheatberry will do, while other times, it’s best to use a specific variety to get the best results – just like with rice.
For salads, pilafs and side dishes the difference between varieties usually isn’t too critical or noticeable (unless you’re a true connoisseur or the recipe is adamant that only a certain wheat will work). However, when it comes to baked goods or grinding wheat into flour, the differences are much more significant. I highly suggest following recipes closely and doing more research if using wheat for these purposes.
In the grocery store, or more likely the bulk food or health food store, you’ll see that the all encompassing “wheatberries” are much cheaper than the other types of wheat – spelt, farro, einkorn, etc. That’s because these varieties are more rare and offer other factors that appeal to people. They vary in where and how they’re grown, their history and even in protein, gluten, and some nutrients. To learn more about the differences, check out the Whole Grain Council’s A to Z of Grains.
What Do Wheatberries Look and Taste Like?
Wheatberries have a reddish golden color that intensifies when cooked. Despite their lengthy cooking time (50 -60 minutes), they retain a slightly chewy texture. Cooked wheatberries have a sweet nutty flavor that pairs nicely with fruits, veggies and pulses. They can be used as a side dish in place of rice, in combined grain dishes like rice pilaf, mixed with pulses for dishes that provide complete protein, in soups and stews or they can be used with fruits, veggies, herbs and spices for endless varieties of salads.
How Do You Cook Wheatberries?
Wheatberries are easy to cook, but they do take time – at least 50 to 60 minutes. Letting wheatberries soak overnight or even a couple of hours on the counter will reduce cooking time by about 10 minutes. To cook…
- Wash, rinse and drain and remove any tiny rocks or debris.
- Place 1 cup of wheatberries in a medium sized saucepan with 4 cups of water or enough water to cover them by one to two inches.
- Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer with lid on for 50 to 60 minutes. Taste test the berries to determine tenderness. Unlike white rice, wheatberries will not absorb all of the water in the pot, so testing them for desired tenderness is the best indicator.
- Drain remaining water and use in your favorite recipe.
- 1 cup raw will yield 3 to 3 1/2 cups cooked.
Do Wheatberries Need to Be Soaked?
Soaking reduces cooking time by about 10 minutes and it makes the kernels a little less chewy. Is that important to you? If so, soak them, if not cook as is.
To soak, simply cover with 1 to 2 inches of water and leave for 2 hours or overnight.
Some people like soaking all their grains to make them easier for our body to digest. I have not researched this topic enough to provide more insight, so if this intrigues you – google on!
How do you Store Wheatberries?
Whole grains contain some oil or fat in the germ. This fat, like the oils found in nuts, will go rancid over time. To prevent this from happening buy only as much whole grain or whole grain flour as you can reasonably use within 3-6 months and store it as recommended.
According to the Whole Grain Council, raw wheatberries can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months in a cool, dry pantry.
In warmer climates or for longer storage, store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a year before quality starts to deteriorate.
Cooked wheat can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months.
How do you Freeze Wheatberries?
I love the fact that wheat, like most whole grains, can be easily and successfully frozen. I like to take advantage of this fact by always making a double batch so there’s always a quick whole grain dish ready to go.
- Cool the cooked wheat completely and totally. For real! It needs to be totally cold so trapped heat doesn’t condense and form ice crystals which will lead to reduced quality.
- Once cooled, fill a freezer container or a freezer bag. I like freezer bags because I can freeze them flat so they don’t take up much room in my freezer and they thaw quickly. And, if I just need a little bit of cooked grain for a soup – I can easily break off a piece.
- Store in the freezer for up to 6 months. They’ll be safe to eat for much longer, but you will notice the quality start to go down after 6 months.
For more details and step by step photos on how to best freeze wheatberries read How to Cook and Freeze Whole Grains.
Now it’s time for you to try them. If you like a little bit of texture, enjoy wild or brown rice, or just love exploring new foods, I think you’ll love em.
Be sure to let me know when you try them and tag #getgettys on your Instagram photos, so I can commend you on your results!
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.