USES OF CEREALS
14. Cereals and cereal products play a very important part in the food problem, for the prosperity of a country depends on its grain crops and the people of all classes are dependent on them for food. This is evident when it is known that they form a greater proportion of the food consumed than any other single food material. In their widespread consumption, they have many and varied uses. In truth, a meal is seldom served without some cereal food, for if no other is used, bread of some description is almost always included. Besides bread, a cooked or a dry cereal is usually served for breakfast, and for some persons this constitutes the main breakfast dish, providing a nourishing and easily digested food when served with milk or cream. This food is especially desirable for children, and for this reason is always among the first solid foods fed to them.
15. While to most persons the word cereal suggests the idea of a breakfast food, because cereals are used most often for that purpose, they find their place in other meals than breakfast. Although they are used less often on the dinner table than elsewhere, they frequently have an important place there, for a number of them are commonly used as dinner dishes and others might be used more frequently, and to advantage, too. In this connection, they are used in soups, and in certain forms, usually the whole or slightly crushed grain, they take the place of a vegetable. Some of them, particularly rice, are often used with meat or cheese in making an entree or in combination with eggs, milk, fruit, or various flavorings as a dessert to be served with a heavy or a light meal. Cold cooked cereal is often sliced and sautéd and then served with meat or some other heavy protein dish. Cereals are also used for lunch or supper, perhaps more often than for dinner, and because of their easy digestion they are to be recommended for the evening meal for all members of the family, but especially for children. When used in this way, they may be served with cream, as for breakfast, or prepared in any other suitable way. Whenever cereals are served, whether alone or in combination with other foods, the result is an economical dish and usually an easily digested one, unless, of course, the food with which they are combined is expensive or indigestible. But, to whatever use cereals are put, unless they are thoroughly cooked they are not easily digested and they lose much of their value. In fact, the ready-to-eat cereals, which have been thoroughly cooked, are preferable to those which are poorly cooked in the home.
SELECTION AND CARE OF CEREALS
16. Preparation of Grains for the Market.--So that the housewife may go about the selection of cereals in an intelligent manner, it may be well for her to know how they are prepared for market. After the grains are harvested, the first step in their preparation consists in thrashing, which removes the husks from the outside. In some countries, thrashing is done entirely by hand, but usually it is accomplished by machinery of a simple or a more elaborate kind. Occasionally no further treatment is applied, the whole grains being used as food, but generally they receive further preparation. Sometimes they are crushed coarsely with or without the bran covering, and in this form they are known as grits. At other times they are ground finer and called meal, and still finer and called flour, being used mostly in these two forms for the making of various kinds of breads. Then, again, grains are rolled and crushed, as, for example, cracked wheat and rolled oats.
Various elaborate means have been devised by which cereals are prepared in unusual ways for the purpose of varying the diet. Sometimes they are used alone, but often certain other materials are used in their preparation for the market. For example, the popular flake cereals, such as corn flakes, are cooked with salt and sometimes with sugar and then rolled thin. Some of the cereals are thoroughly cooked, while others are malted and toasted, but the treatment to which they are subjected is generally given to them to improve their flavor and to aid in the work of digestion.
17. FACTORS THAT GOVERN CEREAL SELECTION.--Besides knowing about the ways in which cereals are prepared for market, the housewife should be familiar with the factors that govern their selection for use as food. In the first place, cereals should be chosen to suit the needs and tastes of the members of the family, and then attention should be given to the forms in which they can be purchased. Some cereals are sold in sealed packages, while others can be bought in bulk. Each, however, has its advantages. Those sold loose are often lower in price than those sold in package form, but there is a question as to whether, with the chances for incorrect weight, the bulk foods are really much cheaper. Cleanliness is, of course, of greater importance with cereals that do not require cooking than with those which are subjected to high temperatures in order to prepare them for the table. Therefore, from the standpoint of cleanliness, there is no advantage in purchasing rice and similar raw cereals in packages.
18. The next thing to consider in the purchase of cereals is their cost. They vary considerably in price, but it has been determined that in food value there is little difference, pound for pound, between the cheap and the expensive cereals, the variation in price being due to their abundance or scarcity and the method used in preparing them for market. The entirely uncooked ones are the cheapest, the partly cooked ones are medium in price, and the thoroughly cooked ones are the most expensive. This difference, however, is practically made up by the expense of the fuel required to prepare them for the table, the cheapest cereal requiring the most fuel and the most expensive, the least.
Besides varying in price, the different kinds of cereals offer the housewife an opportunity to select the one that is most convenient for her. Those which are ready to serve are the best for the meal to which the least possible amount of time can be given for preparation. The other kinds require cooking, of course, but this need not be a hindrance, for they can be prepared on one day and reheated for breakfast the following day, or they can be cooked overnight by the fireless-cooker method. In the case of such cereals, long cooking is usually necessary for good flavor and easy digestion; consequently, the cooking method that will accomplish the desired result with the least expenditure of fuel is the most economical one and the one to select.
19. TABLE OF GRAIN PRODUCTS.--As a further aid in coming to an understanding of cereals, or grains, and their value, there are given in Table II the various uses to which grains are put and the forms in which they occur as food. In this table, as will be observed, the form of the grain product is mentioned first and then the grain from which it is made. A careful study of this table will be profitable to the housewife.
20. CARE OF CEREALS.--As carriers of disease, cereals are a less dangerous food than any other. This characteristic of cereals is due to the fact that the cooking all of them require in some part of their preparation destroys any disease germs that might be present. They are not likely to be adulterated with harmful material, either; and, in addition, the sealed packages in which many of the cereals are put up keep them clean and free from contamination. However, care must be given to both the uncooked and the factory-prepared varieties of this food. The packages containing ready-to-eat cereals should not be allowed to remain open for any length of time if it is desired to keep them fresh and crisp, for they absorb moisture from the air very quickly. If they do become moist, however, drying in the oven will in most cases restore their freshness. If it is necessary to open a single package of prepared cereal and all of the contents cannot be utilized at once, as, for instance, when only one or two persons are to be served with that particular cereal, the best plan is to empty the remainder into cans or jars that are provided with covers. Uncooked cereals, which are used less quickly than the prepared kinds, are often attacked by mice and other vermin, but such an occurrence can be prevented if the cereal is poured into jars or cans that can be kept tightly closed. Considerable care must be given to flour and cereal products purchased in large quantities, for if they are allowed to collect enough moisture, they will become moldy and lose their flavor, and thus be unfit for use. To preserve them well, they should be kept in metal-lined bins or in bins made of carefully matched boards and in a cool, but not damp, place.
|Cereals||Whole Grains||Pearl barley|
|Crushed Grains||Farina: Wheat or corn|
|Cream of Wheat: Wheat|
|Cracked Wheat: Wheat|
|Hominy Grits: Corn|
|Wheat Grits: Wheat|
|Prepared Cereals||Flaked: Rye, wheat, rice, corn|
|Shredded Grain: Wheat|
|Malted Grain: Rye, barley, wheat, and corn|
|Puffed Grain: Corn, rice, wheat|
|Feed for animals:||All grains|