Grinding Our Own Wheat – Part 2: Wheat Berries

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There is a lot to know about wheat berries! I did not realize how many different kinds of wheat there were. There are basically two kinds of wheat – hard and soft wheat. You can also buy organic (which is the best if you can afford it). I will list below some of the different kinds and what they can be used for:

Hard Red Winter/Spring Wheat: This is a hard wheat, which means it has high gluten content that make it excellent for baking breads. The Hard Red Wheat has a wonderful “nutty” flavor that many enjoy for making breads.

Hard White Wheat: Since this is another hard wheat, it has a high gluten content as well. However, this wheat has a much milder flavor and a light golden color when baked.

Soft Wheat: Soft wheat cannot be used for making yeast breads, as the gluten content is much lower. This wheat makes a flour that is similar to pastry flour – excellent for making cakes, cookies, pastries, etc.

Our experience:

We bought 50 lbs. each of the Hard Red Winter Wheat and the Hard White Wheat. I wanted to experiment to see how much I could use the Hard Red Winter Wheat for (since it was half the price of the Hard White Wheat). I am finding that I can use the Hard Red Wheat for all my breads, and even some cookies. I think I am going to try to mix them both together and see how that turns out. Nutritionally, there is no difference between the two. The hard red definitely does have a nuttier flavor which is delicious in breads! In desserts such as cakes, I think I will end up using the hard white wheat.

I don’t plan on buying any soft wheat. I never bought pastry flour before, so I figured that I could just use the hard wheat on everything. In a later post I will talk about how we are storing our wheat berries.

Until then…here are a few tips of information that may help you in deciding how much wheat berries you need to buy….

Some helpful facts about wheat berries:

  • 50 lbs. of wheat berries makes 225 cups of flour
  • 3 cups of wheat berries makes 3 1/2 cups flour
  • When using freshly ground wheat flour, pack the flour into your measuring cup (this is especially important if you grind your flour to the finest setting). I did not do this at first and I wasn’t getting enough flour in my recipes. Now, if you use a courser setting to grind your flour and your flour is not as light and fluffy, you may not need to do this.

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  1. I read your first two posts about choosing a grinder and about wheat berries. I was looking for pros about the quality of the flour ( for example: it tastes fresher; or my cakes last longer). Is there some quality that you like that cannot be found in store bought unbleached flour.
    1. Hi Lynn, What I found with the store-bought whole wheat flours is that it made my recipes heavier. When I bought the hard white wheat berries and ground them with my grinder, the flour acted much more like white flour. It was finer, a lot lighter in texture, and made my baked goods so nice you could hardly tell it was made with whole wheat. does that help?
  2. You made this seem so simple! 2 months ago when I was trying to decide which wheat to buy, I was quite confused! Do you have any suggestions on where to buy wheat? I ordered form Honeyville Grain since they had $5 shipping, but I've since realized they really mark up their pricing to make up for the shipping cost. I'm in NC and can't find anything locally (within 200 miles) that will order for me. I'd love to hear your suggestions if you have any! Thanks :) -Lauren
    1. Hi Lauren, I would check around and see if there are any bulk foods stores around. You can also check Azure Standard to see if they deliver anywhere near you. I find our wheat at a little bulk foods store run by a Mennonite family. The white wheat is actually Montana Wheat and the red wheat is local Kansas wheat. I would just keep checking around. Surely there is somewhere within an hour's drive! Have fun!
  3. We use HWW for our breads, pancakes ect. I have all 3 but HRW upsets my tummy. A mix of the hards is good! We haven't tried the SWW yet even though we have a bunch but I'm going to soon.
  4. Thank you, Sheri and Raye Ann. I am getting excited about possibly starting this journey for my family. I had no idea there were hard and soft berries. Guess I have to start saving some of the grocery budget each week so that I can purchase the necessary equipment. Where do you get these berries? Do you use a local farm? If so, how do you find them? I imagine that suppliers would vary depending on the part of the country. Or, do you order online?
    1. Heather, We get our wheat berries in 50# bags at a little store run by a Mennonite Family. The hard white wheat is actually shipped in from a big supplier of organic wheat (can't remember the name now) and the hard red wheat is actually locally grown - from Kansas. I would start by checking around to see if you have some little stores or bulk foods type of stores that sell wheat. Just be careful, because sometimes health food stores do not have the best prices. Have fun exploring this!
  5. Sheri, I really think that you would like the soft pastry berries for some things. I have never had a pie crust turn out quite right with the hard wheat. Before part of the family went gluten free I used one bag of pastry berries to 3 bags of hard red/white. I think you will like the results of mixing the red and the white. For flavor I liked 2 parts red to 1 part white. Raye Ann

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