Learn how to cook grains that were grown in your garden and process them for your homemade baked goods.
How to Cook Grains
1. All the grains grown in the garden (wheat, corn, grain sorghum, buckwheat, oats, triticale or rye or barley, alfalfa and cane sorghum) except soybeans may be cooked by the thermos method. Bring required amounts of grain and water to a boil, pour into a wide-mouthed thermos, close, and leave for 8 to 12 hours.
Another method for cooking grains is the "pilaf" method. This involves sauteing the grain — usually with minced onion — in oil and then adding stock or water (approximately twice as much liquid as grain) and cooking it, covered, over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the grain is tender. The time is about the same as above. Brown rice, barley, millet, and wild rice are especially good cooked this way. Buckwheat is traditionally cooked in this way, but a raw egg is stirred into the dry grains before adding the stock or water. This replaces the need for sauteing the buckwheat in oil, and is done to keep the grains separate throughout the cooking. The required amount of water is two cups for the "egg" method of cooking buckwheat, and five cups when cooking it to be eaten as a cereal.
The hard grains such as wheat, rye, and triticale, may be brought to a boil in the required amount of water, boiled for 10 minutes, then left to soak for 8 — 12 hours in this same water. After the long soaking, they may be cooked for 15 — 20 minutes and will be tender enough to eat. This is one way to shorten the cooking time.
The pressure-cooker method offers the advantages of cutting the cooking time in the above chart in half. In general, use twice as much water as grain when cooking in the pressure cooker, although more water — four times the amount of grain — is needed for the harder grains, such as rye, triticale, and wheat.
2. When adding cornmeal to boiling water, it is best to first combine it with one cup of cold water and then stir this into the remaining three or four cups of boiling water. The lesser amount of water is to be used when you wish to have a stiff cooked cornmeal, as for cornmeal mush.
3. The lesser amount of water is required for short — or medium-grain rice, the larger amount for long-grain rice.
A further tip on cooking grains:
To enhance the flavor and shorten cooking time, toast grains in a dry, medium-hot iron skillet, stirring constantly, until they have a pleasant fragrance and take on a darker color. This also enables the grain to be "cracked" or coarsely ground in an electric blender.
From Small Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon, copyright© , 1917 by Rodale Press Inc., Emmaus, PA and reprinted by permission. Available hard ($8.95) and paperback ($4.95) any good bookstore or from MOTHER's Bookshelf.
Read more about growing grains: You Can Raise Grains in Your Garden.