By Cat, Jan 2008 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
- See also: 1. Foods (About) Menu); 2. Flours, Grains & Starches Menu; 3. Buckwheat & Kasha (About)
- This article is moved from Flours & Starches: Wheat
Put most simply, bulgur is wheat berries (grains) that have been cleaned, parboiled (or sprouted), and dried; or it may be similarly prepared from older types of wheat such as Kamut ©, Emmer, and Spelt. White bulgur resembles rice and indeed can be used in much the same way as converted rice, with the added benefit of being more nutritious, and cooking more quickly. The white grains of bulgur have been removed of the bran, but whole bulgur, with the bran in-tact, is also available.
How bulgur is made
Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon (3) prepares bulgur by sprouting then drying the wheat berries. This is the most nutritious method, as the wheat berry changes from a green to a vegetable sprout, freeing many of its bound-up nutrients (especially minerals), creating new proteins, and increasing vitamin content as well as creating new vitamins. See also Soaking/Sprouting Grains, Legumes, Nuts & Seeds (Intro) and Soaking & Sprouting Grains for more on sprouting.
The parboiling of the wheat berries to make bulgur accomplishes some of the same nutrient goals as sprouting, increasing the available nutrient content of the grain. However, cracked wheat, which is often confused with bulgur, has not been sprouted or parboiled and thus is of a lower nutrient value. Instead of cooking or sprouting the berries to make bulgur, they are cracked with a machine, a process that does not bring about the miracle changes of germination.
Cooking with bulgur
I have several recipes using bulgur on this website, here are some other recipe websites:
- Whole Wheat and Bulgur Bread, from the Mediterr-Asian Cooking (1) website (this sounds delicious, made from whole wheat flour, and sprouted bulgur grains);
- Dhansak with Bulgur, from Adhi Potoba’s blog (2)
Substitutes for bulgur in recipes
- Kasha or buckwheat groats
To soften bulgur:
Pour ¾ cup boiling water over ½ cup bulgur in bowl. Cover and let stand about 20 minutes, until bulgur is tender and water is absorbed. Makes about 1 cup.
Bulgur can be made from any of the wheat varieties, but durham (a hard wheat) is the most common. It can also be made from wheat’s ancient varieties/cousins: Kamut ©, Emmer and Spelt (see Other True Grains). No matter which grain is used, the bulgur can be ground into flour, but it is generally a more coarse flour than regular ground wheat.
Bulgur can be ground into a flour that is more nutritious than white flour. However, it tends to remain coarse, rather then the fine texture one associates with flour. It should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer, as it is easily oxidized (rancid). I would like to make a distinction between two versions of sprouted wheat flour:
- ‘Sprouted Grain Flour‘, is mentioned in many of my recipes, but it is made from the whole grain (the bran and germ are not removed).
- ‘Bulgur flour,’ at least in my terminology, is made from bulgur from which the bran has been removed, and so is whiter, but still more nutritious than white wheat flour.
- Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enid, PhD. (see Beloved Cookbooks for more on this book)