How to Sprout Wheat Berries for Bulgur Wheat: An Illustrated Guide
Plain Bulgur Wheat Porridge
The Basics of Making Bulgur Wheat
Bulgur is simply sprouted, dried wheat, coarsely 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 this dish, you'll wonder why you've been paying so much for those dinky little packages of it at the store.
Here is what you'll need to make your first batch:
- 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
Step Two - Sprout the Wheat
Step Three - Dry the Wheat
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 tasty dish, 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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