Wheat berries add texture and flavor to side dishes, salads and more. The berries are whole kernels of wheat that still have the germ and bran, which makes them very nutritious. Because they are such a sturdy grain, many recipes call for the berries to be soaked prior to cooking them. However, soaking wheat berries only reduces the cooking time by approximately 10 minutes. Instead of soaking them, prep the wheat berries by toasting them in an oven that’s been preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit to enhance their flavor.
Boiling Wheat Berries
Cooking wheat berries by boiling them on top of the stove is one of the more common methods. Add the berries, a pinch of salt and three to four times as much cooking liquid to a saucepan or pot. Use water or broth to cook the wheat berries. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer the pot with the lid on for about one hour, or until the berries are tender. If you’re using semi-pearled or pearled wheat berries, they cook quicker than hard red winter wheat berries. To avoid overcooking them, start checking the berries after boiling them for 30 minutes and then every five to 10 minutes after that. Drain the pot and immediately season the wheat berries to taste.
Slow-Cooking Wheat Berries
If you’d rather not have to keep your eye on the stove top, use your slow-cooker instead. This fuss-free cooking method gives you virtually foolproof, tender wheat berries. Add the berries and with four times as much water to the slow cooker. Alternatively, if you’re using the wheat berries for a sweet dish such as breakfast porridge, swap some or all of the water for juice to add more flavor. Cover the cooker and cook the wheat berries on high for 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours, or until the berries are tender. Drain the berries, if necessary and serve.
Pressure-Cooking Wheat Berries
Pressure-cooking wheat berries is faster than simmering them on the stove. Add wheat berries to the pressure cooker, along with a drizzle of oil and approximately 1 1/2 times as much water as wheat berries. Close the lid, lock it in place and turn the heat on high. Once you reach high pressure, lower the heat to the lowest setting needed to keep the cooker at high pressure. Cook the wheat berries for about 30 minutes before turning the heat off and letting the pressure naturally release. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for a stove-top cooker and up to 20 minutes for electric cookers.
Cooking Wheat Berries in a Rice Cooker
Another nearly foolproof way to cook wheat berries is to prepare them in a rice cooker, which cooks the grains until all the water is absorbed. Once the water is absorbed, the cooker switches to a setting to keep the wheat berries warm until you’re ready to serve them. In general, use the 4 parts liquid to 1 part grain ratio that it typically prescribed for cooking wheat berries, although you can reduce it a bit because the rice cooker loses minimal liquid through evaporation. Rice cookers usually cook wheat berries within 75 minutes or so.
References and ResourcesThe All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
The Everything Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook; Laura Pazzaglia
Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker; Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann
The Kitchn: How To Cook Tender, Chewy Wheat Berries on the Stovetop
Eating Well: Cooked Wheat Berries
Whole Grains Council: Cooking Grains With Your Rice Cooker
Idaho State Department of Education, Child Nutrition Programs: Whole Grains Cooking Chart