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How Do I Choose the Best Wheat Berries?

Wheat ears along with a small pile of wheat kernels (also known as wheat berries).
A field of wheat.
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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2014
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Wheat berries are actually whole wheat seeds that can be ground up into fine, nutritious bread flour or planted to produce wheatgrass. When choosing wheat berries, it is important to know how they will be used. Those using these seeds for baking must consider the flavor and quality of the berries. Berries chosen for growing wheatgrass must be fresh and plump. Both varieties of berries should be healthy and mold-free.

Choosing wheat seeds for making flour depends largely on the flavor of the berries. White wheat berries have a light and subtle flavor, while red wheat berries have a richer, deeper one. Both varieties usually produce heavy, dense baking products, though those made from white berries will be lighter in color. Wheat berries chosen for baking may be fresh, dried, or sprouted, depending on the baker’s preferences. Fresh and dried berries will produce very bready baked goods, while recipes made with sprouted berries will taste fresh with a slight crispness from the sprouts.

Though wheat berries are available online, many bakers like to choose their baking berries in person. The berries should be rich in color, without black, green, or gray discoloration. Fresh berries should be plump and firm, while dried berries will feel hard and have a slightly darker color. Dried and fresh varieties should both smell a little like freshly baked bread.

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Once chosen, baking berries must be stored properly to ensure they retain their flavor. The baker should typically wait to grind these berries until he or she is ready to bake with them. Dried berries usually keep longer than fresh or sprouted berries, meaning the baker should plan to use the last two kinds of seeds right after they’re purchased. Those planning to store their berries should choose the dried variety and store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Those choosing wheat berries for planting sometimes have a slightly more difficult task ahead of them. Fresh berries are often best for planting, meaning the gardener should typically purchase them in the late fall when wheatgrass sheds its seeds. Berries for planting should also follow the above guidelines, meaning they should be plump, firm, and free of mold or disease. Gardeners’ berries should typically also come from healthy plants, which may be difficult to determine unless the gardener knows the seller personally.

Many kinds of fresh wheat berries will sprout in storage, so it is often best to plant them right away. The berries should be soaked in cool, distilled water overnight, drained, and sprinkled over a soil-filled seed tray. The berries may be covered with about 1 inch (about 2 cm) of soil and covered with plastic wrap until they sprout. Sprouting wheatgrass requires plenty of warm, indirect sunlight to grow properly.

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