Cooking perfect whole grain foods, like that fluffy pot of tasty rice, takes some practice. Because many rice and grains are relatively inexpensive to purchase from bulk, experimenting with everything from how much water gets absorbed into the grains, to the amount of time it takes depending on the stove, can be a fun and economical education in the kitchen. Not to mention the health benefits in learning to change your diet.
Transitioning from the convenience of packaged or boxed rice can be a bit daunting, at first. Just remember that every batch of grains you attempt on the stove top will turn out differently. This is due to a variety of factors ranging from the conditions where the grains were stored, perhaps their age, to the temperature in which it is cooked.
Tips and tricks on how to cook whole grains:
- Sorting: Look for (and remove before cooking) any tiny, hard stone like particles; quinoa, millet and amaranth are the worst culprits. Pour onto flat surface such as flexible cutting board or a plate and sort with your fingers; excellent project when cooking with kids.
- Washing: Not all grains need to be washed, however if there is any chaff, dust, or debris they will need to be removed prior to cooking. Either put them in a pot, fill with water, swirl, rinse, and repeat until the water is clear or place them in a strainer, run warm water over them; lifting with your fingers until the water runs clear.
- Cooking: For the best results use a stainless steel pot with a thick, aluminum core bottom for even heat distribution. Bring both the grains and water (liquid) to a boil together in the pot; once boiling lower heat and simmer. NOTE: If tough and chewy, you may have boiled them too long. If mushy or clumped, the initial heat may not have been high enough or perhaps you added too much liquid.
- Stirring: Never stir the grains while they are cooking. Whole grains are unique in that they arrange themselves so that the bottom layers cook as evenly as the top to create steam holes. By stirring you destroy the steam holes and all of the grains never fully cook.
- Salting: Amaranth, wheat berries, kamut berries, and spelt berries should NOT be cooked with salt because it inhibits the liquid absorption. All other grains cooked with a pinch of salt will open them up and bring out the sweetness rather than leaving them tasting flat.
- Gluten free grains: Amaranth, brown rice, wild rice, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa. Wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and kamut all contain gluten. Oats vary, so check to see if they are certified gluten-free.
- Always consult your physician if you have special diet or health related issues.
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From my home to yours, healthy cooking tips - with nutrition in mind.