How to Sprout Wheat Berries for Bulgur Wheat: An Illustrated Guide

Plain Bulgur Wheat Porridge

Cooked bulgur cereal - a nice, hot lunch or breakfast, even a snack.
Cooked bulgur cereal - a nice, hot lunch or breakfast, even a snack.

The Basics of Making Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur is simply sprouted, dried wheat, coursely ground or cracked.

If you have never made bulgur, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how little time and effort is involved. If you have access to bulk wheat with which to make bulgur, you'll wonder why you've been paying so much for those dinky little packages of bulgur wheat at the store.

Here is what you'll need to make your first batch of bulgur:

  • Wheat berries
  • Pure, drinking-quality water
  • A sprouting jar, or a glass jar with a loose-woven cloth to fasten over the top with a rubberband
  • A jellyroll tray on which to dry the sprouted wheat
  • A grain grinder, or other method of cracking the finished bulgur

 

Step One - Soak Wheat Berries

No matter the size of your sprouting jar, fill it about 1/3 full of plain, dry wheat berries, then add water to fill. Let sit one full day, until the wheat berrries plump up.
No matter the size of your sprouting jar, fill it about 1/3 full of plain, dry wheat berries, then add water to fill. Let sit one full day, until the wheat berrries plump up.

Step Two - Sprout the Wheat

After the wheat berries are nice and plump, set the jar upside down to drain.
After the wheat berries are nice and plump, set the jar upside down to drain.
Over the next 2 to 3 days, rinse the grain with pure water at least twice a day (3 times is better), and leave to drain again.
Over the next 2 to 3 days, rinse the grain with pure water at least twice a day (3 times is better), and leave to drain again.
When the sprouts are 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch long, the wheat is ready to dry.
When the sprouts are 1/4-inch to 1/3-inch long, the wheat is ready to dry.

Step Three - Dry the Wheat

Spread the sprouted wheat out on a baking pan and set it in a warm (not hot) place to dry thoroughly.
Spread the sprouted wheat out on a baking pan and set it in a warm (not hot) place to dry thoroughly.

Good Places to Dry Bulgur Wheat

  • A warm (not hot) oven with the door propped open with a butter knife
  • A sunny picnic table, on a sunny, low-humidity day (slide tray into a pillowcase to keep insects off and to keep the wheat from blowing away)
  • A food dehydrator
  • The top of a wood stove, with the tray placed on a rack

Step Four - Crack Your Bulgur

If you will not be using your batch of bulgur immediately, store it in an airtight container until use.

When ready to use, simply crack the grain in a grain grinder or coffee mill, and you're ready to cook.

Uses for Bulgur Besides Porridge

Bulgur wheat is fairly versatile, and lends itself to a variety of applications. You can cook it as simply as you like - water and a bit of salt - or get as complicated as your creativity allows - perhaps toasting it in a dry pan, then adding water or broth or dry red wine, butter or olive oil, milk or cream, sour cream or yogurt; vegetables or fruits (practically any); spices or herbs. Try curry, sweet spices such as cinnamon and/or ginger, or Southwestern combinations such as cumin, chilies, and cilantro. Even coffee grounds can make a surprising, but delicious addition.

Bulgur can be served by itself, in a vegetable skillet or casserole (baked or stove top), as part of a soup, or in meatloaf or meat balls. It can also be added to breads, pancakes, and other baked goods...though you may want to start small until you see how the flavor profiles of your favorite recipes are affected.

Bulgur has a flavor profile that is similar in ways to dark chocolate...so think about anything that goes well with chocolate, or pairs well with slightly bitter foods.

Also, while bulgur makes an excellent vegetarian dish, it also pairs well with practically any meat...even wild game such as wild duck or wild goose, which can be difficult to put in combinations, due to its flavor strength, which is similar to organ meats (heart, liver, kidneys, etc.). Domestic poultry such as chicken or turkey can pale somewhat next to bulgur, but is still pleasant, and may be served chopped into the bulgur, or served alongside. Anything herb-ey and definite in its character, such as spicy sausage or bacon, holds its own very well.

If you are not sure what goes with bulgur, simply cook some of the grain fairly plain, with a bit of butter or oil and salt, and then experiment with test batches - small bowls of the bulgur with the herbs or seasonings you had in mind. If you wind up with something disappointing, you can rejoice that the whole meal was not destroyed...and try your next idea with another test batch.

Here's to great grains!

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© 2009 ButterflyWings

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Comments 2 comments

Jarn profile image

Jarn 6 years ago from Sebastian, Fl

What are the benefits of bulgar wheat, exactly? Different taste, texture, or does it just plump up the wheat for more volume?


ButterflyWings profile image

ButterflyWings 6 years ago Author

The actual benefits are more nutritional than anything else, though the wheat does have a different taste and texture. The taste is sweeter, as the sprouting brings sugars into play that get hidden otherwise, and the texture is more brittle, due to being allowed to be broken during sprouting, then dried.

But the main idea is that bulgur is easier to digest than normal wheat, and you get more nutrients out of it.

This and similar topics are extremely well explained in Sally Fallon's book, "Nourishing Traditions", which I highly recommend and which challenged even my rather open yet health conscious thinking.

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