Purchasing wheat can be confusing and overwhelming. All of the red, white, winter, spring, soft, and hard combinations can make your head spin. If you just want a recommendation -- and don't want to know the whys -- I recommend purchasing hard-white wheat. It's a good, mild tasting wheat that makes great bread.

Now for those of you who want more information:

Wheat Characteristics:
*RED/WHITE: Red has a nuttier, stronger flavor. White wheat has a more mild flavor. Red wheat grinds up with a darker brown hue. White wheat, as the name suggests, is light in color.
*SPRING/WINTER: This just refers to the time that the crop was harvested.
*HARD/SOFT: Hard wheat has a higher protein content and is good for most baking situations. Wheat kernel is smaller and harder. Soft wheat has lower protein and higher starch. Soft wheat is usually used for pastries and not bread or all-purpose baking.

I love this characterization by Donna Miller, owner of Millers Grain House:
"To sum up - color is a choice for taste and look, while hard or soft is a choice for type of recipe."

Specific Varieties:
*Hard RED Spring - High protein content. Good for breads and gluten.
*Hard RED Winter - High protein content. Flavor is more mellow than red/spring wheat.
*Soft RED - Low protein. Not as good for bread - better for pastries.
*Hard WHITE - Medium protein content. Good for bread.
*Soft WHITE - Very low protein content. Not good for bread. Typically used for pastries.

Ways to Use Wheat:
BERRIES: Wheat is boiled to resemble rice. Term is also used to describe the uncooked kernel.
BULGAR: Wheat has been parboiled, dried, debranned, and ground to make it fast to cook.
CRACKED: Wheat that is milled at a very coarse setting or is just "cracked. Is good for use in hot cereals.
FLAKES: Wheat that is rolled.
GLUTEN: The protein found in wheat. You can buy/make gluten.
GROUND: Wheat is processed in a grinder to make flour.
SPROUTS: When wheat is planted and watered as seeds.

Other Kinds of Wheat:
DURUM: Used to make pasta flour.


It is important that wheat be clean at storage. Oxygen absorbers help keep pests at bay. These can be used in #10 cans, PETE bottles and Mylar bags. A dry ice treatment can be used to clean the wheat if you live in a very dry climate and are repackaging into buckets. Keep wheat in a dry, cool area for an optimum storage life.


About 1 in 100 people has an allergy to the protein in wheat. All forms of wheat have this protein present. So test it out on your family before you buy a lot.


Don't pass up storing wheat just because you don't have a grinder. As you can see from the definitions, there are many other ways to use wheat. I'll be doing a post on grinders soon.

Walton Feed - Good overview.
The Fresh Loaf - Pictures that show the differences between red and white wheat as cooked in breads.
Sunnyland Mills - About bulgar wheat.

1 comment:

Marie said...

This is great information--thanks for putting it all together in one place. Excellent post!