All About Wheat: Three Parts of the Grain

I want to do a series of quick posts talking about different types of flour that I use, but I realized that before I do that I should probably do a series of posts talking about wheat berries and gluten and such, to make sure my terms are clear for the rest of my posts.

So, let’s start with the basics.

Wheat is a grain. The part we eat is the seed of the plant. If you were to buy wheat in order to grind your own whole wheat flour, what  you would get is called wheat berries. The wheat berry has already had the inedible, grassy husk removed, but the entire edible part of the seed is still intact.

That wheat berry is made up of three parts (you could think of them as layers, though they are only partially arranged that way): the bran, the germ and the endosperm.

Wheat bran is the outer covering of the wheat berry, and contains fiber, a range of minerals, a bit of protein, and phytic acid. (When not properly neutralized by soaking, or through being digested at the same time as vitamin C rich roods, the phytic acid blocks the absorption of minerals in the digestive tract.)

Wheat germ is the smallest part of the wheat berry, but has the highest concentration of nutrients, including quite a smattering of vitamins and minerals and some fiber (though less fiber than the bran). It also contains more protein per gram than the wheat bran does.

Endosperm is the starchy center of the wheat berry, which contains much fewer nutrients than the bran or the germ, but the gluten which is so helpful for getting bread to hold together. (More on gluten in a later post.)

Stay tuned for further thrilling updates about the composition of wheat and various flours!

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