Just like oils, it’s a good idea to keep a few different textures and tastes of grain in your pantry. Here are some examples of grains you could keep in your kitchen, going in order of soft to crunchy.
Teff: This African grain is very tiny, so it cooks quickly and results in a creamy porridge texture. There’s a nice recipe for teff breakfast porridge from Lorna Sass here.
Polenta: This is coarsely ground cornmeal. It does take some care and attention to cook polenta without burning it, but it my opinion it’s worth the time! Polenta also results in a creamy texture, which will firm up when cool. I like to portion it out in muffin tins so I have servings of polenta pucks ready to go. Top a puck with some cooked veggies and a protein and you’ve got a nice little meal!
Steel cut oats: We talked about this whole grain in our breakfast article yesterday. Keep some handy in your pantry for a warm meal option in the morning.
Millet: The texture of this small round grain will vary based on whether you toast it before cooking or not. It has a pleasant nutty flavor, which is also more pronounced post-toasting. There’s a good article on toasting and preparing millet here.
Brown rice: This whole grain can be used in so many dishes, will last in a dry pantry for months, and is inexpensive. What more is there to say?
Quinoa: This complete vegan protein has a sturdy texture that will hold up in soups and chili. Quinoa has a nice subtle flavor, rinse it before cooking to avoid any bitter aftertaste.
Wild rice: This grain is chewier than brown rice, and will also hold up well in soup. I like to use it for grain salads because it won’t get mushy in the fridge.
Popping corn: Always good to keep in your kitchen for a fast snack! It’s cheap and will store for months in your pantry.
There are so many different whole grains out there; these are just a few viable options. These are all grains intended to cook whole; we’ll cover flours another time. The use and storage of flour is a little different.
Here are some tips for storing grains:
- Keep your grains in a dry, cool, dark, cupboard.
- Store grains in an airtight container- I reuse jars and yogurt tubs and whatnot.
- Label everything, and write the water/grain ratio right on the label for easy reference.
If you’d like a cookbook that has many different whole grain recipes, check out Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass.