Are wheat berries the same as farro? Or spelt?
One of the most confusing things about wheat berries is that they are easily mixed up with other whole grains like farro and spelt. This is understandable because they are all varieties of wheat, and since they are composed of the bran, germ, and endosperm, they look the same, too.
Wheat berries are common wheat (Triticum aestivum) and can often be found in the bulk section of natural foods stores. I purchased my wheat berries for this post at Whole Foods for $1.99 per pound, a significantly lower price point than farro, which is often imported and can run as high as $15 per pound. The bin was labeled hard red winter wheat. Be sure to get the whole variety and not the pearled which has been milled to remove the outer bran — this is a process that makes wheat berries quicker to cook but removes much of the fiber.
How To Cook Tender, Chewy Wheat Berries
Approximately 3 cups
What You Need
1 cup wheat berries
Olive oil (optional)
Baking tray (optional)
2-quart sauce pan with lid
Bowl for tossing (optional)
- Toast the wheat berries (optional). Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spread the wheat berries on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly colored and aromatic.
- Cook on the stovetop. Transfer the wheat berries into a sauce pan and add 3 cups of water and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover the pan.
- Check for doneness. At about 30 minutes, start checking for doneness by scooping out a few berries and carefully tasting after they've cooled a bit. They should be chewy but not tough. If not quite done, continue cooking and check the wheat berries every 5 minutes. You may need to cook them up to 25 minutes longer depending on the exact variety of wheat berry you purchased and their age.
- Drain. Drain the berries in the strainer and transfer to a bowl. Toss with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Store in refrigerator. If not using right away, store the cooked wheat berries in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Gently reheat in a frying pan over low heat until hot, or serve at room temperature.
- Check the pot on occasion to be sure there is enough water. Add more hot water as needed.
- Farro is another wheat grain very similar to wheat berries. It is cooks just like wheat berries, but will require a shorter cooking time. Start checking at 30 minutes. Farro can be used interchangeably in recipes calling for wheat berries.
Recipes from The Kitchen using farro and/or wheat berries:
This post was requested by WendyMR for Reader Request Week 2013.
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(Images: Dana Velden)