Thursday, September 1, 2016

Staff Of Life: Wheat

When getting grains for storage or to improve eating habits, there is much to choose from. Two-thirds of your grains should be from wheat. I often asked myself, Why two-thirds? Why not a smaller amount? I soon learned the answer. When I started cooking and using the grains, I used a lot more wheat. It is used for breads, rolls, muffins, pita, waffles, pancake mix, crackers, cereals, wheat meat, cakes and cookies. As I learned more about the types of wheat and experimented with them, I discovered a whole new world and so did my taste buds.
In this article I will discuss the different type’s available, nutrition, contents and structure of the wheat kernel. At the end of the article I will include a couple recipes my family enjoys for you to try out on your family.
Wheat has been around for centuries and is regarded as the staff of life. Wheat is one of the oldest and most basic foods of all time. I have seen articles where wheat was taken from the pyramids and sprouted. Wheat was meant for the use of man. It is the one grain whose prime purpose is to feed mankind. Some of the other grains are used principally by animals and man enjoys them as an alternate grain in the diet. Wheat should be stored for a “rainy day” (strikes, job loss, droughts, crop damage, TEOTWAWKI, etc.). But wheat was not intended to be stored and not used. Wheat was intended to be used to provide nutritious elements needed to have good health, stronger bodies, clear minds, and healthy off-spring.
There are three parts to a wheat kernel. The outer covering of the kernel is called the bran. The bran is made up of rich layers of minerals and vitamins. There is also high quality protein. The endosperm is the inner part of the wheat kernel. This is where starch and gluten are abundant. It also contains cellulose but little vitamins and mineral substance. The fat from a wheat kernel has a high food value since it also contains unsaturated fatty acids. The germ or the embryo is where new life springs from. The germ is one of the richest known sources of vitamins B and E. It contains mineral matter, protein and fat.
The germ and the bran contain phosphates which provide brain and nerve food. Calcium for teeth and bones is also obtained from this area of the kernel.
When the wheat kernel is used in its entirety, the following nutrients are provided: Thiamin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, protein, pantothenic acid, niacin, barium, silver, inositol, folic acid, choline, vitamin E, boron, silicon, sodium, chlorine, calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, sulphur, iodine, and fluorine.
There are five types of wheat grown in the United States. They is hard winter wheat (red), hard spring wheat (red), soft spring wheat, hard white wheat, and durum.
The hard winter wheat (red) is planted in the fall. It is usually grown without being watered, except by rain or snow. It can’t be planted too far north. It grows well in Montana, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Dry winters and springs make the high protein content and low moisture content.
The hard spring wheat (red) is planted in the spring. Like hard winter wheat it too is not irrigated. It also has a high protein and low moisture content.
The hard winter and spring wheat usually have a stronger wheat flavor. Our family enjoys the flavor. I use it for bread, rolls, cereals, popped wheat, pancakes and graham crackers. I love graham crackers made from this wheat. When I make some gluten I use this wheat depending on the recipes because of the stronger flavor.
The soft wheat is irrigated. It usually has a larger yield than hard wheat because of irrigation but it is lower in protein. They use a lot of this grain for livestock. Soft wheat cannot be used to make bread. It does not have the right gluten content to hold the air that occurs when bread rises. This grain is used in making cakes, cookies, pastries or other baked goods that use baking powder, baking soda or shortening as leavening. I use soft wheat 75 percent of the time for my pancake mix. The other 25 percent of the time I use other grains for different flavor pancakes from time to time. We really enjoy this flavor for pancakes and waffles. I also use this grain in non-yeast breads and muffins.
The white wheat is a grain we also use a lot. It has a milder taste. It has more flavor than bleached white flour. I use white wheat flour in place of any recipe that calls for bleached white flour. The hard white wheat is used to make crackers too. It is also the best wheat to use when making Rejuvelac, a fermented wheat drink. Other wheat can be used to make the drink but the hard white wheat gives a more delicate flavor.
Durum wheat is used for making noodles, macaroni and all other kinds of pastas. I store a small amount of this wheat although it’s not used as often.
Here are some other terms you might hear in recipes. Bulgur wheat is a wheat that has been cracked, par boiled, dried and partially de-branned. It tastes somewhat like wild rice. It can be purchased in health food stores or homemade. Cracked wheat is wheat that has been cracked (duh). It may be used instead of bulgur in any given recipe. I usually use cracked wheat in place of bulgur. Cracked wheat can be cracked in a grinder or a blender. Milled wheat is wheat that has been milled to the texture of cornmeal. Graham flour is a coarsely milled whole flour. It adds texture to the finished product such as graham crackers. Most of the bran has been removed. When I make graham crackers, I usually grind my red wheat and use that flour instead of purchasing graham flour.

It is important to know that whole wheat flour from the store is not the same as whole wheat flour you grind fresh at home. Some of the important parts of the wheat are taken out and vitamins are lost the longer the flour sits around and is not used. Wheat should be freshly ground into flour when used in recipes or you can grind larger amounts and stored in the freezer to keep some of the nutritional value.
Triticale is a wheat derivative. Scientists have been trying for years to produce a grain that combines the hardness of rye with the gluten qualities of wheat. The golden kernel 707 triticale is one variety. Triticale makes excellent pastries and may be used where regular wheat is used but not in bread. It also makes an excellent cereal, cracked or whole kernel. It can be used in casseroles where rice or cracked wheat is used. This grain also sprouts well. (It’s also loved by Tribbles for those of you who are Star Trek fans)
Don’t be afraid to try and experiment with the different types of wheat. Add wheat to stews, beans dishes or salads. Slowly add the grain to your diet to adjust to the flavor and texture. Don’t be surprised if you hear complaints from family members. People are resistant to change. Don’t give up. Continue improving their diet. Don’t get discouraged if your food doesn’t turn our right the first time. My bread was unsuccessful the first couple of times I made it. Every once in a while my bread will flop and I have been making bread for years. As you begin to study and experiment with wheat you will soon discover what a blessing it is and that it truly is the staff of life.