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Wheat

Wheat has been cultivated for over 10,000 years making it one of the oldest known foods to mankind. Wheat is commonly ground into flour and has been used to make bread in many ancient civilizations until today. Wheat crop covers more surface area in the world than all of the other cereal/grain plants combined. Wheat grain and flour have contributed to the rise of many civilizations, making it one of the most important agricultural products known to man.

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Poales
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Subfamily: Pooideae
  • Supertribe: Triticodae
  • Genus: Triticum
  • Species: Triticum aestivum L.

Wheat Trivia

  • One bushel of wheat weighs approximately sixty pounds and contains approximately a million kernels.
  • Seventy-five percent of all grain products in the United States is made from wheat.
  • In the United States, wheat is grown in 42 states.
  • Sixty-six percent of the wheat in the United States is grown in the great plains from Texas to Montana.
  • It takes 1,200 tons of water to produce a ton of wheat.
  • A bushel of wheat makes around 70 standard-sized commercial loaves of bread.
  • There’s a company in Taiwan that makes edible dinnerware from wheat, giving a new meaning to “finishing everything on the table.”

Wheat Buying Guide

Wheat is usually milled and sold to consumers as flour. Different applications call for different types of flour. Some people never move away from all-purpose flour simply because it works for their particular style of cooking. Here’s a quick flour guide so the next time you go out and get flour, you can try to experiment.

  • All-Purpose Flour – This is your ‘generic’ flour that can be used for almost any application. It can be baked into cookies, quick bread, pastries, cakes, and whatever pastry you can think of. This can also be used as a coating for all of your favorite fried foods. All-purpose flour is made from a blend of soft and hard wheat. This is usually enriched with iron and vitamin B to make up for the nutrients that are lost during the processing.
  • Whole-wheat flour – This is used for bread, pizza dough, and various rolls. Whole-wheat flour is made from the entire kernel of wheat. The wheat class used for this is the Hard Red variety which has high protein and strong gluten.
  • Gluten Flour – This is made from spring wheat. Gluten flour is low in starch and high in protein which makes it a healthier choice than all-purpose flour. This type of flour is usually blended with a low-protein wheat flour to make for stronger dough.
  • Whole Grain Flour – These are hot right now. Whole grains of wheat are milled directly to make the four and nothing is added or removed, making it much healthier than other types of flour.
  • Bread flour – While this was previously marketed for commercial bakers, you can now find bread flour in many supermarkets. This type of flour has a very high gluten and protein content making it the perfect flour to use for baking bread. Hence the name, bread flour.
  • Self-Rising Flour – This is basically all-purpose flour that has leavening and salt added. It’s great for biscuits and quick bread but that’s about it. For other applications, you’re better off getting the specific flour or all-purpose flour.

Wheat Production & Farming in Texas

In Texas, wheat is one of the most valuable cash crops. The production is not only for food/grain but also for forage for Texas’ livestock segment. Wheat farming in Texas started near Sherman in 1833 and rapidly expanded across the state because of the well-adapted Mediterranean strain of wheat that was first planted there. Today, almost half of the state acerage for wheat is planted on the High plains, and about a third of that acerage is irrigated. Most of the Texas wheat production is of the Hard Red Winter class. Due to the efforts on agricultural extensions in Texas, many varieties have been developed with disease resistance which has led to a sizable expansion in wheat planting in South and Central Texas.

There is a lot of support for wheat growers in Texas, this means that many local farmers can plant wheat and have it milled outside of the giant wheat and flour supply chains. Texas is also home to several old-style gristmills that cater to local farmers and making locally grown wheat flour available. You can also find locally grown wheat and wheat flour at your favorite specialty store and farmers’ markets.

Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:

Depending on the type of wheat, there are anywhere between 12 and 16 chemical residues found on wheat and wheat products. Some of these pesticides and chemicals are known carcinogens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and honeybee toxins. This makes it more important to purchase USDA organic wheat, or from small farms and gristmills that produce wheat and wheat flour without using any chemicals and pesticides.

Packaging:

Wheat grains and flours are packed in plastic bags and resealable kraft paper bags. If you purchase from a local gristmill or farmers’ market (or from the farm directly!), you have the option of bringing your own container to avoid single-use packaging.

Enjoying Wheat

Wheat grains are usually ground up into flour and used for many baking applications. It can also be cooked as a grain and it will have the texture, taste, and quality not different from brown rice. It can also be added to stews and soups that call for the use of rice, but just make sure to add some extra liquid as wheat grains absorb a lot of liquid.

Storage:

Wheat can be stored for years as long as it’s stored in a dry and airtight container. Only wash your grains just before you use them as the extra moisture will accelerate spoilage of the grain.

Boiled Wheat Grain “Rice” Recipe:

Need a substitute for rice? Wheat grain works in a pinch. Not only that, but it has a higher fiber content than both white and brown rice. Of course, there’s an initial hump over the texture, but some people seem to love it. The best way to know is to try it for yourself!

Ingredients:

Wheat Grain, 1 cup
Water or broth, 2 to 2 ½ cups.

Step 1:

Wash the grains thoroughly until the water runs clear. Allow to drain.

Step 2:

In a large frying pan, toast the grains for around five minutes until they start to crackle and pop. Be sure not to burn them. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

Step 3:

In a deep saucepan, combine the grains and the broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a slow simmer and cover. Cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are soft and chewy. If it’s still tough, add a little bit more water and continue until cooked.

Step 4:

Fluff with a fork and enjoy with your main dish of choice.

 

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 407 20%
  • Carbs: 87.1g 29%
  • Sugar: 0.5g
  • Fiber: 14.6g 59%
  • Protein: 16.4g 33%
  • Fat: 2.2g 3%
  • Saturated Fat: 0.4g 2%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 6mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 0mg 0%
  • Vitamin A 10.8IU 0%
  • Calcium 40.8mg 4%
  • Iron 4.7mg 26%
  • Potassium 486mg 14%
  • Vitamin E 1mg 5%
  • Vitamin K 2.3mcg 3%
  • Vitamin B6 0.4mg 20%
  • Folate 52.8mcg 13%
  • Magnesium 166mg 41%
  • Phosphorus 415mg 42%
  • Manganese 4.6mg 228%
  • Zinc 3.5mg 23%

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