Wheat, currently the world's most widely cultivated grain crop, has been grown for human consumption for thousands of years. Records of its cultivation have been found in the writings of ancient cultures of Egypt and China, among others.
Wheat is a fairly hardy crop, growing in a variety of climates, though it is dependent on adequate rainfall. The United States is the world's leading producer of wheat: some 60% is of the crop is exported. There are several common varieties of wheat, including hard red winter wheat, hard red spring wheat, hard white spring wheat, soft red wheat and durum wheat.
Hard winter wheat is planted in the fall. It is usually dry-land wheat, grown without being watered, except by snow or rain. The extreme northern states are too cold for this type of wheat, but it grows well across Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma and Kansas. Dry winters and springs make the protein content high, the moisture low. Hard winter wheat is a high volume producer.
Hard white spring wheat and hard red spring wheat are planted in the spring. Like hard winter wheat, they are not irrigated, thus yielding a high protein and low moisture content. Hard white spring wheat has a light flavor and is particularly nice for sandwich bread, muffins, cookies, etc. Hard red spring wheat has a heartier flavor. Both grains have their enthusiasts and many people enjoy them both. Certainly the difference in flavors needs to be experienced. Then bakers can decide which wheat to use in which recipe. Both make excellent loaves of bread.
Soft white winter wheat has been irrigated. It usually has a larger yield than hard wheat but is rower in protein. Soft white winter wheat is used for pastry flour. It is particularly light, and therefore especially useful in making cakes, cookies, pastries or other baked goods that use baking powder, baking soda, or any leavening other than yeast.
Durum wheat is used for making macaroni, noodles and all types of pasta. Popular demand has caused the milling industry to produce up to 250 different grades of wheat flour.
HOW TO PREPARE:
Basic Cooked Wheat Berries: Use 3½ parts water to 1 part grain. Bring the water to a boil; stir in the grain; return to a boil; then lower the heat and simmer. Cook in a covered pot about 50 to 55 minutes. If the grain is still too chewy for you, add another ¼ cup water for every cup of raw grain that was used and simmer until it is absorbed. The berries may be pre-soaked in water overnight to reduce the cooking time somewhat.
|BLUE CORN||WHEAT||WILD RICE||BUCKWHEAT|