A staple grain in the Middle East, and parts of Africa, freekeh is a type of wheat harvested when it’s still young and green. Like all cereals in the wheat family, freekeh contains gluten proteins, making it suitable for a wide range of culinary applications. Unlike other ancient wheat varieties freekeh traditionally undergoes a post-harvest process that gives it a smoky flavor. This method begins by burning sheaves of freekeh, which imparts a smokiness to the intact moist grains. After the burn, inedible burnt portions are removed by rubbing. The process yields grassy-smoky flavors and a chewy texture similar to farro and cracked bulgur wheat. Like other starchy cereal grains, freekeh is used in side dishes, salads, and soups. It can be milled into flour for breads and pastries and fermented into probiotic and alcoholic beverages.
Freekeh is similar to the raw young wheat people use in India, without smoky flavour.
Like most whole grains, freekeh is a good source of protein, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and iron. While all whole grains are excellent sources of fiber, freekeh is especially fiber-rich, containing roughly double the fiber of red wheat berries and about four times the fiber found in brown rice. Freekeh is also a good source of prebiotics that nourish beneficial gut microbes.
WHERE TO BUY
Purchase freekeh in Middle Eastern grocery stores or the Middle Eastern or , you can buy freekeh online, either in bulk or in small retail packages.
HOW TO COOK FREEKEH
You can purchase freekeh as whole grain, sometimes called whole berries. Whole grains can be cooked on the stovetop using the method described below. Soaking freekeh overnight shortens the cook time by about 10 minutes and softens the bran, which can help with digestibility, but it’s not necessary for this great-tasting final product.
Combine 1 cup of whole freekeh with 2½ cups water and soak it over night. When ready to cook, remove the water and add fresh water-about 2 cups. and a dash of salt. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Let sit, covered, 10 minutes more, allowing the grains to absorb any remaining moisture. Fluff grains with a fork. Serve immediately, o this dish can be used as rice or, as a side dish. You can add your own choice of spices. The actual recipe will be added to the web site soon.
Store cooked freekeh in an airtight container in the fridge, and incorporate it into your meals throughout the week.
You can also find cracked freekeh, which has been broken up into smaller pieces rather than whole. This lightly processed version of freekeh is easier to digest and quicker to cook, Use the cooking method described above, but reduce the cooking time to 10 to 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.