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Guide to Grains

Grains have become hugely popular lately not only because they are super nutritious, but because they are super delicious, too. They’re not difficult to cook — if you can cook rice, you can cook grains — but they can be unpredictable, with cooking times that can vary widely. The timing can depend on age, which is why it’s so smart to buy grains in bulk — the high turnover in our bins means the grains are generally fresher.

Basic Grain Instructions


Grains stored in airtight containers away from light, heat and moisture should keep a few months. The oils in some whole grains may turn rancid over time, so be sure to smell before using. If they smell musty or off, they may be past their prime.

Rinsing and soaking

Rinse grains thoroughly under cold running water until the water runs clear. Soaking is optional, but it is recommended for hard grains like spelt and wheat berries — they will cook up quicker and maintain the integrity.


Bring water (and salt, if using) to a boil, add grains and return to a boil. Stir, reduce heat so the water just simmers, cover the pot tightly, and simmer. Resist the urge to lift the cover — releasing steam will slow the cooking process.


Check grains for doneness by biting into one. Most whole grains are slightly chewy when cooked.


When grains are done cooking, remove from the heat and fluff them with a fork or chopstick. Cover again and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Great Ways with Grains

  • As a pilaf tossed with sautéed vegetables and plenty of fresh herbs
  • In place of rice or noodles in soup
  • Cooked with dried fruit and topped with milk or yogurt for breakfast
  • Tossed with chopped veggies and a vibrant vinaigrette for a cool salad
  • As a base for curries and stir-fries
  • As a hearty stuffing for vegetables and roasts

Explore More

How to Shop the Bulk Bins at Whole Foods Market
Great Grains Meal Plan
Guide to Whole Grains
Guide to Rice