Cracked wheat is a versatile whole grain for cereal, side dishes, main dishes and baking. Cracked wheat is vulnerable to spoilage and pests such as insects and rodents. Appropriate options for storing cracked wheat include freezing. Choose containers and freezing options based on how you plan to use the grain.
Although cracked wheat is sometimes confused with bulgar, they aren't the same. Bulgar is parched, meaning it's cooked and dried. Cracked wheat still requires cooking. To tell them apart, look for the endosperm, the white interior of the whole grain kernel in cracked wheat. Bulgar is all one color. It's convenient and economical to buy cracked wheat in bulk to have on hand as a staple food. Freezing stops larvae that may be present in wheat from developing and feeding on the grain. Freezing also protects the grain from heat and light exposure that reduce its shelf life. You can freeze cracked wheat in its cooked or uncooked forms.
Freezer containers with lids that fit tightly or zipper bags designed for freezing help to protect the quality and the flavor of cracked wheat. If the grain is exposed to air, it's more vulnerable to freezer burn or taking on a stale flavor from freezer storage. For convenience, use tempered glass containers that can go from freezer to oven or microwave to freeze individual or household-sized servings of cooked cracked wheat for cereal.
Cracked wheat results from cutting or crushing wheat kernels into grits. In this form, the wheat cooks in about 20 minutes, one-third the time of whole wheat berries. Use three parts water to one part grain and cool to room temperature before freezing. If you use serving saver containers to store cooked cracked wheat allow 1-inch head room. Head room is empty space at the top of the container to allow for the cracked wheat to expand as it freezes without cracking the container or popping its lid off. Uncooked cracked wheat requires no preparation for freezing. Simply pour it into the desired container.
For faster thawing and cooking, spread cooked cracked wheat on cookie sheets and partially freeze it. This takes 30 minutes or longer depending on your freezer. Divide the partially frozen grain into individual storage containers. Cracked wheat can keep in the freezer indefinitely. Always write dates on the freezer containers. Toasting cracked wheat in oil before cooking it in water makes a flavorful cereal but this version doesn't freeze well. Alternatively, cracked wheat stays fresh in the refrigerator for four to five months, according to Rutger's University Extension.
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