Cooking Tip Thursdays is dedicated to making time in the kitchen quicker, easier, and just plain better….
Whole grains are an excellent source of nutrition; they contain essential enzymes, iron, dietary fiber, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins. They are absorbed slowly in the body, unlike refined grains, providing sustained and high energy throughout the day. While cooking whole grains can be daunting, with a little practice and patience, they can be just as quick and easy as any white rice you boil in a bag. Once you have it down, you will reap the nutritional benefits, add endless variety to your diet, save time, and save money. Buying grains in bulk is one of the most efficient and cost effective options out there. Keep them well organized in labeled airtight containers, with this cheat sheet nearby, and you’ll never have to buy that orange box again.
Whole Grain Cheat Sheet:
- Measure the grain, check for unwanted material, and rinse in cold water using a fine mesh strainer. Optional: soak grains for one to eight hours to soften, increase digestibility, and eliminate phytic acid (inhibits mineral absorption). Drain grains and discard the soaking water.
- Add grains to recommended amount of water and bring to a boil for a softer, more porridge-like consistency. Boil the water before adding the grains to keep grains separated and to prevent a mushy consistency (better when using grains for a salad). Do not add kasha to cold water, as it will not cook properly. A pinch of sea salt may be added to grains to add flavor and lessen the starchiness, with the exception of kamut, amaranth and spelt (salt interferes with their cooking time).
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for the suggested amount of time, without stirring during the cooking process.
1 cup of dry grain = 2 – 2 ½ cups cooked grain = 2 to 4 servings.
|1 cup grains||Water||Cooking Time||Gluten-Free|
|Brown rice||2 cups||45-60 minutes||yes|
|Buckwheat (aka kasha)||2 cups||20-30 minutes||yes|
|Oats (whole groats)||3 cups||75-90 minutes||yes, but questionable due to cross-contamination|
|Oatmeal (rolled oats)||2 cups||20-30 minutes||yes, but questionable due to cross-contamination|
|Amaranth||3 cups||30 minutes||yes|
|Barley (pearled)||2-3 cups||60 minutes||no|
|Barley (hulled)||2-3 cups||90 minutes||no|
|Bulgur (cracked wheat)||2 cups||20 minutes||no|
|Cornmeal (polenta)||3 cups||20 minutes||yes|
|Couscous*||1 cup||5 minutes||no|
|Kamut||3 cups||90 minutes||no|
|Millet||2 cups||30 minutes||yes|
|Quinoa||2 cups||15-20 minutes||yes|
|Rye berries||3 cups||2 hours||no|
|Spelt||3 cups||2 hours||no|
|Wheat berries||3 cups||60 minutes||no|
|Wild rice||4 cups||60 minutes||yes|
Dry roasting or sautéing grains prior to cooking will enhance the flavor considerably. To dry roast, simply add the grain to an ungreased pan and place over medium heat. Shake or stir the pan continuously for 3 to 6 minutes. Remove the pan from heat before the grains turn too dark and start to burn.
All liquid measures and times are approximate. Cooking length depends on how strong the heat is. It’s a good idea, especially for beginners, to lift the lid and check the water level halfway through cooking and toward the end, making sure there is still enough water to not scorch the grains, but don’t stir. Taste the grains to see if they are fully cooked or starting to burn.
*Technically not a grain, but a small pasta product made from wheat that does not require soaking.