I get a lot of questions about the types of wheat and grains I use in my own cooking and food storage. Today I have some basic information for you about wheat and how to use them.
There are three types of wheat I use most often around my house.
This is your basic bread flour. You can get both hard red wheat and hard white wheat. Both have a high gluten and protein content that’s necessary to give both elasticity and strength to your bread dough. Hard white wheat is lighter in color and flavor than hard red wheat. Hard red wheat is what most people think of when they think of a hearty loaf of whole wheat bread. It gives bread a strong wheat flavor and is darker in color. Red wheat is a little harder for the body to digest than white wheat. Which one you use is just a matter of preference.
Soft wheat is all-purpose flour. Sometimes it’s called pastry wheat. It’s used to bake everything except bread. Lower in both protein and gluten, it allows for a much lighter baked product than hard wheat. Whether you’re baking cookies, pie crust, or biscuits, soft wheat is the wheat to use. If you’ve been using store bought all-purpose flour, just replace the flour with ground soft white wheat in any recipe.
Durum wheat is also known as semolina. It’s the hardest wheat of all and is used for making pasta. I store durum wheat because of its long shelf life of 30+ years versus the shelf life of store bought pasta, two years or so. Large #10 cans of pasta purchased from a company such as Walton Feed will last up to 20 years if properly stored.
I store a larger quantity of whole grains than flour because of shelf life. White, all-purpose flour has a shelf life of 5-10 years, but whole wheat, when stored in air-tight containers, has a shelf life of 30+ years.
For those of you who have been considering storing wheat as part of your long-term food storage, I would suggest starting with small quantities of both soft and hard wheat Before making a big investment in 45 lb. buckets, find a grocery store in your area that sells these wheats in bulk. Buy a couple of pounds of each, grind it, and bake up some goodies to see what you prefer. If you do purchase wheat in those big buckets, 45 lbs. of hard wheat will yield at least 50 loaves of bread. Happy baking!
by Chrystalyn Trimble
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.