Thursday, January 3, 2013

The lowly wheat berry, a lesson in versatility

Hey, gang! It's been quite a while since I posted on Pots 'n Pens, but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things. Last year was pretty brutal. Sick baby, sick Sarah, sick dogs...yeah, it wasn't pretty, and I had to learn a lot about modifying my expectations and even changing up my plans, especially my plans regarding my writing career. Essentially, I had to learn how to be versatile. So I had plans for my writing and, crud, the sky falls, so let's start over with the core and figure out something else to do.

And in the end, just before Christmas, I got to make a little announcement.

That brings me to introducing you all to this little guy, the lowly wheat berry.

He's underutilized but extremely good for you and very versatile. Breakfast, salad, bread, dessert, the wheat berry can do it all, but a lot of American have no idea what it even is. (It's a whole wheat kernal). Even if you grind it up into powder, it's still usable (hello, whole wheat flour).

But to use it in a salad or dessert, first you have to cook the wheat berry. And it's easy peasy.

1 heavy cooking pot
1 tsp kosher salt
1 C raw wheat berries, sorted through for pebbles, rinsed, and drained
3 1/2 C water
(Yes, yes, I know there are other ingredients in my picture, I'll get to those).

Put your rinsed and drained wheat berries into the pot. Sprinkle in the salt. Pour in the water. Bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes and then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for an hour. A lot of recipes will tell you to soak wheat berries overnight, but it's just not necessary.

So what do you do with your cooked wheat berries? Drain 'em and save 'em in a container in the fridge. There's a lot of ways to use them. My favorite is to put a scoop in a bowl with some turbinado sugar, agave nectar, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and warm it up in the microwave to make a hearty breakfast cereal on cold winter mornings. For a sweeter dessert, do the same but then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of cream or butter.

There are a ton of salads you can make with wheat berries as well. Cold salad where you toss it with bean sprouts, green onions, ginger, and soy sauce for an Asian flair. Warm salad where you toss it with some mushrooms and onions sauteed in butter and topped with feta cheese crumbles. Pretty much wherever your imagination takes you. Wheat berries play well with others. They absorb flavors and pair well with just about anything you throw at them. Any place where you'd use white or brown rice, try wheat berries.

Sarah Bromley is the author of TINDERBOX (Fall 2014, Month9Books, LLC) and is represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. She lives near St. Louis with her husband, three children, two lap dogs, and two guinea pigs. She hates walking past mirrors at night.


  1. I've never even heard of these! I might have to go out and search these out and try them!

  2. I've always wanted to try wheat berries and now I have a good reason to! Thanks for all the information! YUM!

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