Consisting of whole kernels of the wheat plant, minus the hull, wheatberries have a nutty flavor and resilient texture that many people adore. Cooked wheatberries also add substance and texture to soups, stews, and even salads.
Ranging from tan to reddish brown, wheatberries are either hard or soft. You'll most likely find hard wheatberries (in natural-foods stores and some specialty markets and supermarkets), but often they're not labeled either way. The two forms are interchangeable in recipes, but soft wheatberries cook much faster, so be sure to start checking for doneness early.
To intensify their nutty flavor, you can toast dry wheatberries in a skillet for about 5 minutes. Soak the grains (toasted or not) in water for a few hours or overnight to shorten their lengthy cooking time. To cook, use 1 part wheatberries to about 6 parts liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender but still a bit chewy. Cooking time for soaked wheatberries ranges from 25 to 50 minutes; unsoaked, they'll need 50 to 90 minutes. They'll split and turn mushy if overcooked, so start testing early.
Store dried wheatberries in a cool dry place for up to a few months. Cooked and drained wheatberries will hold for several days in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen for a few months; to thaw, run hot tap water over them in a colander and drain very well.