CHANGES THAT CEREALS UNDERGO IN COOKING
In the process of cooking, cereals undergo a marked change, which can readily be determined by performing a simple experiment. Place an equal amount of flour or corn starch--both cereal products--in two different glasses; mix that in one glass with cold water and that in the other with boiling water.
The mixture in which cold water is used will settle in a short time, but if the substance that goes to the bottom is collected and dried it will be found to be exactly the same as it was originally. The mixture in which boiling water is used, however, will not only become a sticky mass, but will remain such; that is, it will never again resume its original form.
This experiment proves, then, that grains that come in contact with water at a high temperature, as in cooking, absorb the water and burst their cellulose covering. This bursting frees the granulose, or the contents of the tiny granules, which are deposited in a network of cellulose, and as soon as this occurs it mixes with water and forms what is called soluble starch. Starch in this state is ready for digestion, but in the original, uncooked state only a very small part of it, if any, is digestible.
PREPARATION FOR COOKING CEREALS.
Before the cooking of cereals is attempted, it is advisable for the sake of convenience to get out all utensils as well as all ingredients that are to be used and arrange them so that they will be within easy reach. The way in which this should be done is illustrated in Fig. 1. The utensils and ingredients shown, which are suitable for most methods of cooking cereals and particularly for cooking them by the steaming process, consist of a double boiler a; a measuring cup b, a knife c, and spoons d and e, for measuring; a large spoon f, for stirring; a salt container; and a package of cereal.
The housewife will be able to tell quickly from a recipe just what ingredients and utensils she will need, and by following the plan here suggested and illustrated she will find that her work can be done systematically and with the least expenditure of time.
FIRST STEPS IN THE PROCESS OF COOKING.
While cereals may be cooked in a variety of ways, the first steps in all the processes are practically the same. In the first place, the required amount of water should be brought to the boiling point, for if the water is boiling the cereal will thicken more rapidly and there will be less danger of lumps forming. Then salt should be added to the water in the proportion of 1 teaspoonful to each cupful of cereal.
Next, the cereal should be stirred into the boiling salted water slowly enough to prevent it from forming lumps, and then, being constantly stirred, it should be allowed to cook until it thickens. The process up to this point is called setting a cereal, or grain.
After the cereal is set, it may be boiled, steamed, or cooked in the fireless cooker, but the method of cookery selected should be chosen with a view to economy, convenience, and thoroughness. The terms setting and set should be thoroughly fixed in the mind, so that directions and recipes in which they are used will be readily understood.