Food Storage 101: Wheat

 Today I'm back with the next question about food storage:

Can you talk to me about hard red wheat?  I am not familiar with it and don't have a clue how to use it.  Have you had issues with bugs in it as you store it?

We're going to talk about the bugs next week, but essentially that is a moisture problem.  If wheat is less than 10% moisture, the weevils can't live there, so make sure you're getting your wheat from a good source, and then keeping it in a cool, dry place.

Now, I know that the question is about hard red wheat, but let's start with a little clarification of types of wheat.  There are essentially three types of wheat.

First, you have hard red wheat. ( A huge thank you to my friend Denice who took this picture for me so I didn't have to open up and refill my bucket of red wheat this morning.)
Then you have hard white wheat.
And finally, you have soft white wheat.
Occasionally you will hear people talk about spring and winter wheat, and all that distinguishes is when the wheat was harvested, in the spring or in the winter.  That I'm aware of it doesn't effect anything, so I'm happy with whatever season my wheat came from, as long as it's putting bread on the table. :)

The difference between hard and soft wheat is the protein content.  Hard wheat has anywhere from 12-15% protein, with hard red generally having higher protein than hard white, although the difference is pretty nominal. 

You'll notice in the soft wheat that the kernel is a little larger, and appears to have "opened" a little.  Soft wheat is only available in white wheat, and is what I use to make muffins, cakes, and any other type of pastries or "light" baked product.

As far as the hard wheat goes, in addition to the difference in protein, there is the obvious difference of the color, (although red wheat isn't really red, it's just a redder shade of brown), and there is a slight variation in the taste.  The hard red has a little nuttier taste.  From what I have read because there is less protein in the hard white some people say it is easier to digest than the hard red, but I've never noticed any difference personally. 

Now, what do I use it for?  In short, everything!  :)  If you eat anything in my home you can be absolutely certain you are getting 100% whole wheat. 

My preference for baking is hard white wheat, with the exception of the things listed above.  I use it primarily to make bread, pizza crust, biscuits, cookies, and pancakes.

My red wheat I generally use when I am keeping the kernel whole, as in soups and casseroles.  If I am ever brave enough and have enough time it's what I will use to make "wheat meat".

I realize the "what to use it for" is a pretty broad answer, but I hope that gives you a basic idea.  If there's a specific recipe you'd like let me know, and I'm happy to share it.

As I mentioned last week, this is not something that happened for our family over night, this was a transition that took time.  I don't want anyone to feel overwhelmed! 

You'll notice I am most often using wheat as a flour, which is why I LOVE my Nutrimill, because I just grind my own.  The easiest way to start introducing wheat is to begin substituting it for something else.  In the case of baked goods add some wheat flour instead of the white flour, or in a soup add a small handful in with the beans as you soak and cook them.  

I'm happy to share all of this information, and again, if you have a question, please feel free to email me at alrawlins at msn dot com.

Happy wheat eating!

Suzi Q  – (January 19, 2012 at 10:18 AM)  

Abby, thanks so much..this really clarifies a lot for me. One thing I wanted to be sure I understand. You use the hard red wheat kernels in soups or stews like you would dried beans? That is something I've never heard of before anywhere, so I wanted to be sure I understand that.

Abby  – (January 19, 2012 at 4:44 PM)  

Suzi, Yup, I just toss some in when I start the beans to soak, and use them in the soup.

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