Whole Grains/Berries/Groats: These are grains that are either unprocessed or stripped only of their tough outer hulls. By themselves, whole grains are bland, so its best to combine them with more assertive ingredients. It also helps to toast the grains before cooking them, this boosts their flavor and speeds up the cooking a bit.
Pearled Grains/Pearl Grains/Polished Grains: These are more processed than whole grains. This makes them less nutritious but they cook up faster and have a more tender texture.
Grits/Cracked Grains/ Steel-Cut Grains: These are grains that have been cut into smaller pieces so they cook faster.
Flakes/Rolled Grains: These are grains that are steamed, rolled, and flaked. They can be cooked briefly to make a hot cereal, sprinkled on casseroles, or added to granola mixes, cookies, or soups.
Meal: These are whole grains that are ground until they have the consistency of sand. Theyre then used to make hot cereals and breads. Stone-ground meal is ground between stones, giving it a grittier consistency.
Bran/Polishings: This is made from the outer husk of the grain, and its a rich source of fiber. There are two types of fiber: insoluble fiber, which passes right through us undigested, and soluble fiber, which is digested by friendly bacteria in our intestines. Insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran and corn bran, and its good for flushing out the intestines. Soluble fiber, found in oat bran, makes you feel full, so its good for dieters.
Germ: This is the exceptionally nutritious embryo found within the grain kernel. It contains oil, so it has a relatively short shelf life. Many cooks store small jars of it in the refrigerator, and use small amounts of it to fortify breads and cereals.
Flours: Flours are made from grains or nuts that are finely ground to a powdery consistency. Theyre used to make breads and other baked goods, but they also serve to thicken stews and sauces and to coat foods about to be fried.