The main difference between hard and wheat berries and soft wheat berries is the chewiness. The hard wheat berries are slightly chewier and make a cracking sound when chewing. On the contrary, the soft wheat berries are a bit less chewy and soft on the teeth, hence the name soft wheat berries.
Hard wheat berries are ground to procure flour that's used for baking and cooking bread. However, the soft wheat berries are prominently used for procuring flour, which is used for cakes, pastries, and other baked food items. Soft and hard wheat berries have lot many differences apart from flour usage. They're discussed below in the article.
What is a Hard Wheat Berry?
A hard wheat berry is a variety of wheat berries that is high in plant endosperm (gluten and starch). The distinct features include golden color, high protein, and gluten content. The presence of high gluten makes it unfit for consumption by gluten intolerants. As a result, the usage is heavily restricted to some regions of the world.
Moreover, food items produced with hard wheat berry flour promise a good meal as it fills the tummy and offers enough nutrients. Identifying a wheat berry plant can be tricky, which is why most people look for the berries and their appearance to determine whether the berry is hard wheat or soft wheat. A hard wheat berry will have a dark brown color, otherwise identified as a bronze-colored berry. Chew 3-5 berries to further learn if they're hard or soft. A hard berry will chew harder, making a hard noise.
What is a Soft Wheat Berry?
A soft wheat berry is another variety of wheat berries, which are identified as light brown berries with a soft nature. Chew 3-5 berries, and you'll notice a soft touch. They won't make a cracking sound and will feel like soft gluten in a few seconds. The soft nature makes it easier to grind the soft wheat berries, resulting in a fine flour. Grinding them hard will result in gluten-free flour, which is ideal for gluten-intolerants.
Differences Between Hard Wheat & Soft Wheat Berries
Gluten content is high in hard wheat berries, whereas soft berries still lack gluten content. High gluten aids dough shape. This means that shaping the dough is more straightforward, and a better shape can be achieved in the dough with high gluten content.
The gluten inside the wheat berries is responsible for the chewiness. Since hard wheat berries have high gluten content, they tend to be chewier than soft wheat berries. Moreover, when cooked, the flour can retain its chewiness to some extent in the case of hard wheat berries. This ain't applicable in the case of soft wheat berries.
Cooking anything with hard wheat berry flour will be a piece of cake. When making pieces of bread, it's easy to achieve a loaf with hard wheat since it'll stay in shape. When you make the bread using soft wheat berry flour, the dough will contract, making it challenging the keep it in shape. The contraction issue isn't applicable in hard wheat berry flour dough.
Ideal For / Suitability
A hard wheat berry is ideal for regular wheat flour. In general terms, the flour made of hard wheat berry can be used on a daily basis. It doesn't stick in the digestive system, and nor does it slow down the metabolism.
The soft wheat berry flour has less gluten and is also termed the "glue of the gut" since it can stick in the intestines and other digestive organs. As a result, it can slow down digestion, causing stomach fullness (the feeling of not being hungry) for a long time. As a result, they're ideal for soft cakes and pastries. That's why soft wheat berry flour is also sometimes termed pastry flour.
Hard wheat berries contain high protein than soft wheat berries. Richness in protein makes hard wheat berries a better alternative for daily use.
The south-Asian countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, etc., include hard wheat berries in their daily diet. The flour made of hard wheat berries is ideal for preparing a full meal on a daily basis and offers incredibly delicious bread prepared through several methods to achieve different food items.
Soft wheat berry four is prominent in the west, European countries, and some Asian countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, etc. Noodles, momos, dumplings, etc., are some famous Asian dishes made from soft wheat flour.
The soft wheat berries are harvested earlier than hard wheat berries. Harvesting early keeps the berries deprived of all the nutrients such as gluten formation, protein, etc. Moreover, early harvest also means the wheat berries remain on the farm for less time, which helps them retain high moisture levels.
Hard wheat berries remain planted for a long time, which helps them gather enough nutrients. But that also dries them up in the sun at the same time, resulting in a dark color and hard texture.
Comparison Chart: Hard Vs Soft Wheat Berries
|Areas||Hard Wheat Berries||Soft Wheat Berries|
|Flour Color||Dark brown color||Light color, somewhat white or mostly white|
|Flour Flavor||Chewy and somewhat less sweet||Sweet flavor|
|Starch Content||High starch content||Less starch content.|
|Varieties||Some varieties can include hard white wheat berries and hard red wheat berries||Some varieties can include soft white wheat berries|
Both types of wheat berries are ideal for baking and cooking purposes. They're used all over the world. Moreover, hard wheat and soft wheat berries offer delicious vegetarian dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do some people prefer soft wheat over hard wheat?
Soft wheat has reduced gluten content, making it ideal for those with celiac disease. Moreover, some people prefer soft wheat just due to the soft food item they make, such as soft pastries or cakes.
What's the shelf life of hard wheat and soft wheat berries & flour?
The expected shelf life for hard wheat and soft wheat berries is 6 months in an airtight container. Some people have achieved a maximum of 6 months shelf life for flour if kept away from moisture and in a cool environment.
Can I grind wheat berries at home?
You cannot grind the berries at home, which is why the mills are way efficient. However, several Indian households use flour mill stone to mill the berries at home, which helps retain gluten to a high level. Grinding in a food processor will leave you with a coarse grain and may also break down your food processor midway. Don't attempt to grind wheat berries at home, no matter how confident you are.
By the end of this article, we covered several differences between hard wheat and soft wheat berries. Based on the differentiations, it's safe to conclude that hard wheat berries are a way to go until you have celiac disease or you want to enjoy soft cakes and pastries. Apart from that, avoid soft wheat berry as much as you can.