What, exactly, is a wheat berry?
The term wheatberry or wheat berry refers to the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), composed of the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheatberries have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain. They are often added to salads or baked into bread to add a crunchy texture. If wheat berries are milled whole-wheat flour is produced. It is also similar to farro. Thank you, Wikipedia!
I use wheat berries from Bluebird Grain Farms, mainly because they’re available from my CSA Full Circle. Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry them and I hate going to Safeway. Whole Foods and other big stores may carry them in bulk. I should do a separate post on my CSA (community supported agriculture) since I’m such a big fan.
My favorite use for wheat berries is in a fall salad. Seasonal fall produce is so different from the stone fruits and melons of summer and gathering the ingredients for this salad together here, I feel slightly less sad about the end of summer. My favorite tweak for this salad is to swap out the dried cranberries for pomegranate seeds. The juicy, crunchy sweetness of the seeds is well worth the extra time it takes to seed the pomegranate. Try seeding it in a large bowl of water. It keeps the mess to a minimum.
- 2 cups uncooked wheat berries
- 1 cup pumpkin seed kernels
- 1 cup chopped apples
- 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or one seeded pomegranate)
- 1 cup finely chopped parsley
- Ginger Ale Vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup ginger ale
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- To prepare salad, put wheat berries into a large bowl, cover with at least 2 inches of water and set aside to soak at least 1 hour. Drain well.
- Put 7 cups water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add wheat berries, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until thoroughly cooked about 40 minutes. (Wheat berries retain a firm, chewy texture when cooked.) Drain and let cool.
- Transfer wheat berries to a large bowl. Add pumpkin seeds, apples, apricots, cranberries and parsley.
- To prepare dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well. Add to salad ingredients and mix well.