In an effort to be more self-reliant, maybe you’ve considered buying and storing wheat. After all, it’s one of the basic foods for most Western people.
But what kind is best?
When you go wheat shopping, you’re likely to run into a few confusing terms. Hard, white, red, soft, winter, spring . . . what does it all mean, and does it matter?
In the olden days, which by this the Damsel means twenty-plus years ago, pretty much the only kind of wheat people bought for storage was called “hard red wheat,” sometimes called “red winter wheat” or even “turkey red wheat.” No one will tell the Damsel why the turkey thing.
Ever notice what a weird word turkey is? Turkey turkey turkey. Say it a few times and pretty soon you’re laughing for no reason.
The hard red kind is great because it stores like, forever. People love to tell the story about a guy finding some of it in a pyramid that was 2,000 years old and it still sprouted. Also, it has a high protein content so that’s good.
Other types, such as soft white wheat, are used by bakeries who don’t care about being able to store wheat for 2,000 years, and yield a–you guessed it–softer, whiter product.
So, people have stored the hard red kind, and try to make bread from it in an effort to become self-sufficient and to rotate the blasted stuff. But the Damsel admits she has seen, on more than one sad occasion, grown women break down and cry in the attempt.
It’s not impossible. But it ain’t easy, especially since the folks who eat it are accustomed to fluffy white bread rather than rough peasant loaves.
Then, in 1986, a farmer in Montana cross-bred the two types of wheat and came up with a new wheat that had both the storability and protein content of the hard red wheat and the lighter flavor and “fluffiness” of the soft white type. It’s come to be called “hard white wheat” and has gained huge popularity among wheat storage enthusiasts.
Yes, there is such a thing as a “wheat storage enthusiast.”
The hard white wheat is a lot easier to make bread with. Those same sad women who cried over their door-stop loaves of red wheat bread, cried tears of joy when they tried again with hard white wheat. It was as if their femininity was affirmed. Crikey!
Now, to be sure, some people prefer the nuttier, “darker” taste of red wheat. But if you’re a wheat buying novice, the Damsel will bet 99 turkeys that you’d like this newer “hard white” wheat. And–now that it has become more widely known and grown, the price has come way down. You used to have to pay a premium for its light fluffy goodness. No longer.
As for the “spring” and “winter” designations, there is a small protein content difference, but the Damsel advises not getting worked up about it.
So unless you are a red wheat lover, the Damsel says go thou, and buy thyself Hard White Wheat.