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Pickled "Hard-Shell" Grains

Hands-on time 10 mins
Total time 2 hrs, 30 mins

Makes 1 cup drained grains

Veggies aren’t the only things getting canned these days. Another intriguing way to enjoy your whole grains, pickling is a quick and easy way to prepare them. The key is knowing which grains will hold up to the brine. This technique works best with what we refer to as “hard-shell” grains—those with a chewy, closed texture such as wheat berries, rye berries, spelt, and Kamut. The longer you let the grains stand, the more the flavor will be intensified. Grains with a more “open” texture such as farro or barley take on so much brine that they lose their own nutty flavor.


  • 1 1/2 cups cider or white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf, preferably Turkish
  • 1 dried red chile (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked rye berries, hard winter wheat berries, spelt, or Kamut

How to Make It

  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Add cooked grains; simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to room temperature. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving.
  3. Store, in brine, in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (flavor will intensify the longer it stands).

Cook's Notes

Executive Editor at Cooking Light, Ann Pittman, explores whole grain's all-around awesomeness in her new book, Everyday Whole Grains: 175 Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice. This complete guide to healthy, hearty, and incredibly versatile whole grains includes something for everyone and offers innovative new techniques to ensure the most flavorful results. From simple, delicious sides to satisfying mains and sublime desserts, this James Beard Award-winning author educates, inspires and does not disappoint. Discover a whole new way of looking at whole grains, how they are prepared, and how they can be incorporated into a healthy diet at every meal.

Also appeared in: Oxmoor House, March, 2016, Everyday Whole Grains: 175 Recipes from Amaranth to Wild Rice;