bulgur is bulgur?
October 12, 2010 1:53 PM   Subscribe

The bulgur wheat that I got from a bulk bin looks very different from the bulgur wheat my husband bought in a bag.

What I bought from the bin looks like this.

What my husband bought, pre-packaged, looks like this.

Why do they look so different? The stuff in the bag is coarser, darker and bigger grains. The package has no preparation instructions. Would the instructions (liquid ratio, cooking time) for one type be the same as for the other?
posted by Koko to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
It looks like what you bought has the bran removed and what your usband bought doesn't. If so, I'm guessing the bulgar your husband bought would require more liquid and a longer cooking time, but by how much, I don't know. I'd probably start off cooking hubby's bulgar the same way I'd cook the binned bulgar and then adjust during cooking to add more liquid and cook for longer if necessary.
posted by Maisie at 2:00 PM on October 12, 2010

Best answer: Bulghur comes in different sizes. Sometimes you'll see a number on the bin or package, #1 being the finest, #4 being the coarsest. I'm guessing you have different sizes there.
posted by jocelmeow at 2:12 PM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Once I started shopping at an Armenian grocery store I discovered that bulgar comes sizes (I've seen 1-4, with 4 being the largest sized grain). Who knew? The bag I have (#4!) looks like the size your husband bought. It says a 2:1 water/wheat ratio, simmer for 20 minutes uncovered and then let steam covered with a towel for 5 minutes to fluff it up.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:13 PM on October 12, 2010

The color of the bulgur your husband bought is also darker than most of the bulgur I see numbered 1-4, and it looks larger to me than even the #4. I've seen it sold by Red Mill as bulgur -- they may have preparation instructions on the bag and you could sneak a peek next time you're at the grocery store.
posted by Killick at 3:05 PM on October 12, 2010

Is it actually marked as bulgur? It looks like cracked wheat berries to me. If it is, you'll want to boil it for thirty minutes or so for it to get soft.
posted by peachfuzz at 3:09 PM on October 12, 2010

Response by poster: It is Bob's Red Mill, Killick, but it's called "'Toasted Cracked Wheat' Bulgur (also known as ALA)", and there's a recipe on the front for tabbouleh, which calls for 2 cups of "presoaked" bulgur ... now, the bulk bulgur I was using before didn't require soaking. This particular bag of bulgur deosn't appear on their website.

A closer look at the label shows instructions for presoaking (1/1 bulgur-water ratio, soak for 30 minutes).

The recipe I use bulgur for just says to throw it in a pan with water (slightly more than 1/1 ratio) or vegetable stock and simmer for about 8 minutes. However, in the past (using my bulk bulgur) I've had to use more than twice the amount of liquid than the recipe called for.

Yaarrr, I don't know what I'm doin'.
posted by Koko at 5:05 PM on October 12, 2010

Wikipedia covers bulgur :

Bob writes that their ALA is from white, not red, wheat :

posted by llc at 9:25 PM on October 12, 2010

there's a recipe on the front for tabbouleh, which calls for 2 cups of "presoaked" bulgur ... now, the bulk bulgur I was using before didn't require soaking
If you are going to be cooking it, I don't think you'll need to presoak it, but it might take longer than the 8 minutes called for because of the size of the grains. For tabboulleh, the wheat is supposed to be chewy rather than crunchy, and usually it is soaked and then the excess water is squeezed out. (My father uses #1 wheat and soaks it in lemon juice, but he has a lemon tree. I use #2 and soak it in water, then squeeze it out and let it dry in the sun for a bit. I use more way more than twice as much water as bulgur for the soaking, but it just gets drained off the top and squeezed out.)
Bob should stick with calling his product ALA so as not to confuse things. He should probably also avoid calling whatever salad he is making tabbouleh as well.
posted by Killick at 7:14 AM on October 13, 2010

Response by poster: I found this article, which is sort of helpful.

So I guess the answer is the Red Mill bulgur is a coarser grind than what I got in the bulk bin. I'm sure it will do for my pilaf recipe.

Thanks for the responses!
posted by Koko at 10:38 AM on October 13, 2010

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