Did you know there are six different varieties of wheat used in the United States? Each variety has its own unique uses, flavor, texture, appearance, and nutritional content. That means, you can enjoy all the benefits of wheat products in many different ways!
Idaho has an abundance of wheat varieties due to the changing seasons and rich soil! In this state, consumers can find several different classes of wheat in one place. Wheat class is determined by the planting season, color, and hardness. Idaho is well known for four varieties, which are soft white wheat, hard white wheat, hard red wheat, and durum wheat.
Soft White Wheat (winter and spring)
Soft White Wheat refers to the light color as the name suggests. Soft wheat refers to the
starch granules that are small, round, and break apart easily. Soft wheat generally has a lower protein content than hard wheat. Soft white wheat is ideal for flat breads, crackers, cereals, snack foods, pastries, pancakes, and cookies.
Hard White Wheat (winter and spring)
Hard White Wheat is also light in color. As the name suggests, the hard wheat, refers to the starch granules that are large and jagged shaped, so they fit tightly together. This makes the kernel strong and hard crack or break. Hard wheat generally has a higher protein content than soft wheat. Hard white wheat has a naturally sweet flavor, so bakers can use fewer sweeteners, which makes it ideal for bread, Asian noodles, steam buns, and blended flours.
Hard Red Wheat (winter and spring)
Hard Red Wheat is darker in color and has a slight reddish hue. As the name suggests, it is hard due to the large, jagged shaped starch granules that fit tightly together. It has a higher protein content than both soft and hard white wheat. Red wheats are naturally less sweet and slightly bitter. They are ideal for hard rolls, bagels, yeast breads, flat breads, and Asian noodles.
Durum is a hard, light-colored grain that is very high in protein. Durum is used to make semolina flour for pasta, bulgur, and couscous.
Regardless of the wheat variety, the milling process determines whether the wheat remains whole wheat or becomes a refined grain.
Jazz things up in the kitchen, and take advantage of living in Idaho by trying different recipes with each of the four wheat varieties grown in our state! Not only will you experience the different flavors and textures, but you will receive the nutritional benefits wheat has to offer.
Written by University of Idaho Dietetic Student and MS Candidate,