Versatile, nutritious and long-lasting – it's no wonder grains are a store cupboard staple. Discover ancient and modern varieties with our guide.
Most grains will keep fresh in an airtight glass or plastic container for up to a year. Store in a cool, dry cupboard, away from the light.
These days, few grains require soaking overnight. Boiling, steaming and microwaving are the most reliable cooking methods.
Swap traditional carbohydrate sides, such as potatoes or rice, for slow-release grains. They help to bulk up – and add a nutty flavour to – roasts, stews and salads.
Despite its name, buckwheat is a wheat-free seed and great for a gluten-free diet. The triangular groats can be boiled then roasted and used in salads or to make porridge. Buckwheat flour is versatile too.
Made from wheat that's been parboiled, dried and then cracked, this Middle Eastern staple can be cooked for some time without becoming soggy. Try it in soups, stews and casseroles, or in salads.
Pronounced 'keen-wah', this fashionable grain has been eaten in South America for thousands of years. When cooked, it quadruples in size and becomes translucent. Stir through salads and veg dishes.
Pearl barley is barley that has had its hull and bran removed, giving it its pale colour. It's great for adding texture to stews and soups, or enjoy it in classic rice dishes, such as paella or pilaf.
Originating from North Africa, these tiny granules are made from steamed and dried durum wheat. Most couscous sold is already pre-cooked – you just need to hydrate it with boiling water to make it light and fluffy. Use it as the base for hearty bowl food, topped with your choice of filling veg and protein.
This green-tinged grain is made from durum wheat, which has been polished to remove the shells, then cracked. It may take up to 45 minutes to cook, but the result is a wonderfully nutty tasting grain with a pleasing bite. Try it in salads or with roast chicken.
Meet the expert: Neil Goates, Tesco grain supplier
Tell us about your job
My company, AGT Poortman, is an importer and distributer of pulses and grains. We work with growers worldwide, including Turkey, Bolivia, Peru and, increasingly, Europe. We supply grains to Tesco and other stores.
Why do you think grains are gaining in popularity in the UK?
Lebanese, Turkish and vegetarian food is particularly trendy right now, and we're seeing lots of celebrity chefs using grains in their recipes. Elsewhere, so-called 'ancient' grains have always been considered an everyday food. Turkey eats an estimated 800,000 tonnes of bulgur wheat a year – so the UK still has a little catching up to do.
What's so great about grains?
Whole grains have a high nutritional value, especially when compared to refined carbs, such as white bread, white rice and pasta. They're simple to cook, cost-effective, a good source of protein and, most importantly, delicious.
How can we incorporate them into our diet?
If you usually eat white rice, simply try a new grain in its place. Quinoa is a good substitute, plus you don't have to watch over it while it cooks. Barley and freekeh also work well as a base for risotto. Enjoy more grains at breakfast by sprinkling buckwheat over your porridge.
What's your favourite grain recipe?
I love to make tabbouleh – a fresh combo of bulgur wheat, tomatoes, lemon juice and parsley.
Get grains into your diet with this hearty Pearl barley and sausage stew.
As featured in Tesco Magazine February 2016.