What Is Durum Wheat?

Wheat ears along with a small pile of wheat kernels (also known as wheat berries).
Pasta is typically made from durum wheat.
Wheat bran.
Sunset over a wheat field.
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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 11 March 2014
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Durum wheat is a type of wheat that is high in protein, gluten, and generally very firm and strong. Its kernels are usually large and amber colored. This wheat is most commonly used for making pasta rather than for baking because of its denseness and cooking quality. Pasta made from this type of wheat is typically yellow in color because of the wheat's yellow endosperm. The endosperm of wheat is found in the kernel and is usually full of niacin, iron, starch, and protein.

Milling durum wheat turns it into ground semolina, which is made into many types of pasta. Semolina is a grainy substance that may be off-white or yellowish in color. The next step after grinding the wheat is usually mixing it with water to form dough. Semolina dough is often very stiff, which generally makes it easier to use for molding into various pasta shapes. Dies and metal discs are commonly used for creating the many different shapes.

The state of North Dakota in the United States is where the majority of durum wheat is produced. Roughly 73% of what is used in the United States comes from this state, although Montana, Minnesota, and South Dakota also produce this type of wheat. Countries outside the United States also commonly use wheat made in these areas because it is typically very strong. The majority of wheat planted in the U.S. is fall-seeded winter wheat, and only about 6% is durum.


Types of wheat labeled whole-grain are typically dark in color, but durum is also whole-grain despite being yellow. The whole wheat berry is ground up when it is processed, similar to other types of whole-grain wheat. This berry contains the majority of the nutrients in wheat, and when the berry is used in the grinding process, it allows the wheat to remain a viable source of nutrition. Pastas that are white in color and not labeled whole-wheat or whole-grain have usually been processed without the berry, which may result in the pasta having little to no nutritional value.

Wheat is often considered very versatile because it can be used for making many different types of food. Bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, and various breakfast foods are all frequently made with the grain. It is generally very easy to transport and may keep for a long time when stored. Approximately 20% of the calories consumed by people in the world come from wheat.


Discuss this Article

Post 7

All purpose flour is best for baking. I once made the mistake of using durum wheat for baking. It turned out terrible. Durum wheat is too dense and heavy for baking. It's impossible to shape and it doesn't rise like white flour.

I know it's healthier, but I prefer to eat it as pasta. I've never tried semolina, I'm not even sure what it looks like. Does semolina have the same nutrients that's found in durum wheat?

Post 6

Semolina is not just good for pasta. It can be used to make a variety of dishes and desserts.

There is a great dessert made with semolina that's also very easy. You just have to cook semolina and pine nuts in butter until it becomes brown and then add milk and sugar. It's ready in ten minutes and tastes delicious.

Apparently, in some cultures, this dessert is served after a loved one passes away.

Post 5

In the Middle East, there is a flat bread (like pita bread) that is made from whole durum wheat flour. This is the best bread because it's rich in vitamins and minerals and does not slow down the digestive system.

Plus, it's so filling. A small piece fills me right up.

Post 4
When I was growing up we lived in Montana, and I remember all the wheat fields that you would pass as you drove through this state. I didn't know that such a small percentage of wheat raised in the United States is durum wheat.

This makes sense since there is more of a market for winter wheat. I like to buy my own grain to grind and make my own bread. I have never made pasta though, but if I did, I would use the durum wheat.

I like durum pasta because I think it has more flavor and think it is healthier for you as well. Using whole grains is something that I have always done and since my kids have grown up with this, that is all they have ever known too.

Post 3

@anon151707-- I am not an expert on this, but if you are allergic to wheat I don't think you would be able to eat durum wheat. I have a friend who is on a gluten free diet, and he can't have any wheat products. There are a few grains that he can have, such as quinoa, but most of them are off limits for him.

Post 2

Once I made the switch to durum wheat pasta, I have not gone back to eating the white pasta. I know the wheat pasta is more nutritious and much better for me. My husband wasn't quite as excited about this change.

What I decided to do was use half white pasta and half wheat pasta and gradually introduce this into his diet. I had better results doing it this way, and now both of us prefer the wheat pasta.

Post 1

I've been told I am allergic to wheat - but can I eat durum wheat? Also, what is the best type of bread to eat as I have an intolerance to rice and rye also. UK

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