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Storing, Grinding, and Using Wheat Berries

To almost anyone's food-storage program, it's vitally important to store wheat berries. Flour goes rancid quickly, so you'll need the berries to grind into flour as you need it.

What is a wheat berry?
A wheat berry is the fruit of the grass we know as wheat. The berry is the entire wheat kernel, without the hull, which contains the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheat berry or wheatberry, as it is also known, have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain.

Basics:
Wheat (berries) stores longer than flour. Once ground the flour will start the clock on becoming rancid, and losing vitamins to oxidation. Whereas, wheat berries have been found to last, when properly stored, for years and years and years, even decades. Some have even been found in ancient Egyptian tombs!

Equipment:
You could just use a mortar and pestle to grind the wheat berries into flour, but that's gonna get tedious and old real fast. Get a grinder (mill). We have a hand grinder because I've been trying to get equipment that doesn't need electricity, but there are many electric grinders available. Trust me, you'll need something, even a food processor, to grind the wheat berries. I've heard of some people using even a coffee grinder, or one of those twist-top small grinders.

Talk to your friends and find out what they use and what they recommend. There are so many grinders and processors that it's going to be a big choice. One you'll have to live with. Many of these are expensive, so be sure to check craigslist or freecycle groups or garage sales and so forth.

Type of Wheat Berries:
Wheat is classified according to hardness, color, and best use. In the United States, the five most important classes of of wheat are: (1) hard red winter, for bread; (2) hard red spring, for bread and rolls; (3) soft red winter, for cake and pastries (it has a finer texture); (4) white, for bread, breakfast foods, and pastries; and (5) durum (to make pasta) products.

How to Store Wheat Berries:
  • If you buy them in bulk, keep in original sealed containers if they come from a reputable supplier.
  • Or you could store in paper bags in new metal garbage cans with tight-sealing lids.
  • Must be kept in a cool dry area, in a container where rodents and other critters and bugs can't get to.

Uses for Wheat Berries:

  • You can plant wheat berries to grow more wheat. You can't plant flour to grow more flour or wheat.
  • Besides grinding into flour, you can cook the cracked wheat (bulgur), make frumenty, and other cracked or whole-wheat dishes.
  • Cook wheat berries like rice and serve with a little gravy on it, or add it to casseroles.
  • Add wheat berries to chili to give it more substance, more body.
  • Cook wheat berries, re-dry them in the oven, and then crack them for cracked-wheat cereal (also known as bulgur) or top a salad.
  • Grind the wheat berries into flour for bread, pizza, pasta... really anything that calls for flour.

Hope this helps you figure out what to do with your huge stores of wheat berries! If you have a favorite way to grind the berries into flour, please feel free to leave the info as a comment to this posting. Thanks.

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