We took a deep dive into golden waves of grain to bring you this certainly incomplete, but hopefully informative, guide to Alberta’s agricultural superstar.

What’s what in wheat

Alberta farmers grow nine classes of wheat, each with its own characteristics and ideal end uses. While we went down a major rabbit hole researching them all, we found that Alberta wheat can be broken down into a matrix of four: winter and spring, red and white – plus durum, which just had to do it’s own thing, That’s so duram.

Winter vs Summer

Winter (or northern) wheat is sown in the fall and harvested in the summer. Generally containing a higher protein content, it’s suitable for making pasta and bread. Spring wheat is sown in the spring and harvested in the winter. It’s used for products that do not require high-protein content, like tender pastries and cakes.

Red vs White

Red wheat is higher in protein which makes it better for more rustic, heartier bread loaves. White wheat makes for softer loaves like pan loaves and dinner rolls.

Durum (aka Semolina)

The hardest of all the wheats, durum has a rich amber color and high gluten content. It’s used primarily for pasta, couscous, and some Mediterranean breads.


“Man cannot live on bread alone…but it’s worth a try” – Camie Leard, Editor-in-Chief

red fife


Brought to Alberta either by early Ukrainian pioneers or by Scots via Ontario (we’ll stay out of that one), red Fife wheat is one of Alberta’s seven signature ingredients. Known as halychanka in Eastern Europe, red Fife has high milling qualities and is known for making exceptional baked goods with a distinct red coloring. It’s rich aroma, complex nutty flavour and moist crumb, combined with its golden red crust, are lauded by bakers across Canada.

Red Fife can adapt to a diversity of growing conditions. It can be hard or soft, white or red and be planted in winter or spring.

Since this flour contains wheat germ, which is an oil, red Fife flour will not keep for as long as commercially milled white flour. Don’t purchase more than you expect to consume within a few months. Keep your flour in airtight packaging and store in the fridge or freezer.



Wheat is just one of 15 or so grains defined as the harvested seed of grass plants (cereals) and non-grass plants (pseudocereals) including:

BARLEY: Not just for beer, this grain is great in soups and stews.

OATS: When you’re done sowing your wild ones, settle in with a bowl of Cheerios, which are made with…you guessed it…oats!

RICE: Naturally anti-inflammatory, rice is gluten free and super fun to eat with your hands.

RYE: Canadian rye whisky is among the best in the world. Oh, and you can make bread with it too.

CORN: Corn gets a bad rap for lacking nutritional substance, but it’s actually rich in antioxidants (mostly Vitamin C) and is a great source of fiber.

QUINOA: The darling of health-food fanatics, quinoa is high in fiber, protein, essential amino acids and iron. Plus, it’s fun to say: keen-waaaah.

BULGUR: The dried, ground, pre-cooked kernels of durum wheat, bulgur is huge in the Middle East.

FARRO: Like barley, but Italian.

FREEKAH: Durum wheat harvested earlier than bulgar and perfect for pilaf.

AMARANTH: Looks like couscous, is gluten free and was the grain of choice of the Aztecs.

SPELT: Like farro, but German.

MILLET: Comes in yellow, red, white and gray, and is used to make Indian roti.

BUCKWHEAT: Is the primary ingredient in Japanese soba noodles. Also, it’s actually a fruit related to rhubarb.

KHOROSAN (KAMUT): E is for Egypt where khorosan originated and for vitamin E, which is plentiful in this grain.



Alberta produced more than 10.2 million tonnes of wheat in 2019, valued at over $2.5 billion.

Vincent Van Gogh’s Wheatfield with Cypresses is one of three paintings completed shortly after he painted A Starry Night. The July version of the painting last sold for $57 million before being donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Chaff is the leftover debris when separating wheat grains from the rest of the plant. Chaff is also a radiofrequency countermeasure released by military aircraft, ships and vehicles to confuse enemy radar.

One bushel of wheat (36 liters) can produce 53 boxes of breakfast cereals.

Until the 1770s, people used moistened, balled-up bread as pencil erasers.



BRAN is the outer coat of the kernel and is included in whole-wheat flour. It’s an excellent source of fiber.

GERM is the sprouting section of the seed. It is usually separated because it contains fat that reduces shelf-life.

The ENDOSPERM is the bulk of a wheatberry’s mass and is the source of white flour. Enriched flour products contain added quantities of riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and iron to make them more nutritionally rich.


Find organic, unbleached white flour made from certified organic hard red spring wheat from Grainworks Organic Millers & Tillers at

Find Harvest Moon Mills durum flour (and others) at your local Safeway.

Visit Sunnyside Natural Market for some Heritage Harvest red Fife flour out of Strathmore. Or, if you’d rather leave the baking to the pros, Sidewalk Citizen uses it to make its own organic red Fife loaf.

A purveyor of heritage and ancient grains, the Scottish Mill at Granary Road Market offers stone-ground flour and full wheat berries from local farmers.