Grain of the Week – Khorasan Wheat

April 24, 2014 at 7:48 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | Leave a comment
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Khorasan wheat

Khorasan wheat

 

Khorasan wheat or Oriental wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. turanicum also called Triticum turanicum) is a tetraploid wheat species. It is an ancient grain type; Khorasan refers to a historical region in modern-day Afghanistan and the northeast of Iran. This grain is twice the size of modern-day wheat and is known for its rich nutty flavor.

 

 

 
As an annual, self-fertilized grass that is cultivated for its grains, Khorasan wheat looks very similar to common wheat. However, its grains are twice the size of modern wheat kernel, with a Thousand-kernel Weight up to 60g. They contain more proteins, lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals than modern wheat. The grain has an amber colour and a high vitreousness.

 

 

 
The exact origin of Khorasan wheat remains unknown. Described for the first time by Percival in 1921, this ancient grain likely originates from the Fertile Crescent and derives its common name from the Persian province of Khorasan. However, some scientists suggested that it rather germinated in western Anatolia, where the botanical diversity is greater than in Iran. One commonly affirms that Khorasan wheat was reintroduced in modern times thanks to an American airman, who sent grains from Egypt to his family in Montana (USA) in 1949. According to a legend, those grains were found in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, hence the nickname “King Tut’s Wheat.” It is not known when and how Khorasan wheat was introduced to Egypt. Another legend relates that Noah brings the grain on his ark resulting in the nickname “Prophet’s wheat.” Other legends surmise that it was brought into Egypt by invading armies. Finally, in Turkey, it is nicknamed “Camel’s Tooth” due to its hump back shape or, more probably, because it resembles a camel’s tooth.

Khorasan wheat was probably continuously cultivated at small scales and for personal use in Near East and Central Asia and in Northern Africa. However, it has not been commercially produced in modern times. In 1949, as the grain reached the USA, it did not raise a lot of interest and therefore fell in disuse. In 1977, Mack and Bob Quinn, two farmers from Montana (USA), decided to cultivate this ancient grain. In 1990, they registered the protected cultivated turanicum variety QK-77 as the trademark Kamut ®.

The trademark Kamut and the attention it is now getting on the health food market have resulted in a growing interest from both wheat scientists and producers.

 

 

 
Nowadays, Kamut brand production is the only existing commercial production of Khorasan wheat worldwide(This last statement is false This is the proof:http://www.artesaniadelasierra.com/rincondelsegura/1244_Harina-integral-de-Khorasan-de-cultivo-eco-.htm). However, Khorasan wheat is still cultivated as food for camels in the Iranian province of Khorasan. It is also probably cultivated in small acreage and for personal use in some other regions of the Middle East.

So far, Kamut wheat is exclusively grown in the USA and Western Canada. Approximately 16,000 acres (6,500 ha) were cultivated in 2006 in north-central Montana, southern Saskatchewan and southeast Alberta. Experimental production has been made in Europe and in Australia.

 

 

 
The actual average yield of Kamut Khorasan wheat is 1.1-1.3 t/ha. In drier years, Khorasan wheat can sometimes yield even more than durum wheat. However, in normal or wet years, it yields approximately 1/3 less than the durum wheat. Certain environmental conditions are essential to a stable yield.

 

 

 
Although Kamut Khorasan wheat is only produced in the USA and Western Canada, it is exported to Asia and Europe. Europe represents almost 70% of the 2006 sales and Italy was the greater consumer. With only 16,000 acres (6,500 ha) cultivated worldwide, Khorasan wheat does not play an important role in the world food system. It nonetheless has a great influence on the organic and healthy food market. By capturing this niche market, Khorasan wheat counterbalances its weak agronomic traits. Between 1998 and 2006 total sales of Kamut wheat increased by 72%.

 

 

 
Khorasan wheat is used similarly as modern wheat. Its grains can be either directly consumed or milled into flour. It can be found in breads, bread mixes, breakfast cereals, cookies, waffles, pancakes, bulgur, baked goods, pastas, drinks, beer and snacks. Apart from its nutritional qualities, Khorasan wheat is well known for its smooth texture and its nutty, buttery flavour. Its content in tannin is lower than modern wheat’s. Hence, it is less bitter. Consumers generally like Khorasan wheat products for their visual appeal, their texture and their moistness.

 

Grain of the Week – Wild Rice

April 17, 2014 at 7:25 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | Leave a comment
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Wild rice

Wild rice

Wild rice (also called Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats) are four species of grasses forming the genus Zizania, and the grain which can be harvested from them. The grain was historically gathered and eaten in both North America and China. While it is now a delicacy in North America, the grain is eaten less in China, where the plant’s stem is used as a vegetable.

Wild rice is not directly related to Asian rice (Oryza sativa), whose wild progenitors are O. rufipogon and O. nivara, although they are close cousins, sharing the tribe Oryzeae. Wild rice grains have a chewy outer sheath with a tender inner grain that has a slightly vegetal taste.

The plants grow in shallow water in small lakes and slow-flowing streams; often, only the flowering head of wild rice rises above the water. The grain is eaten by dabbling ducks and other aquatic wildlife, as well as humans.

 

 

 

Three species of wild rice are native to North America:

* Northern wild rice (Zizania palustris) is an annual plant native to the Great Lakes region of North America, the aquatic areas of the Boreal Forest regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada and Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in the US.
* Wild rice (Z. aquatica), also an annual, grows in the Saint Lawrence River and on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States.
* Texas wild rice (Z. texana) is a perennial plant found only in a small area along the San Marcos River in central Texas.
One species is native to Asia:

* Manchurian wild rice (Z. latifolia; incorrect synonym: Z. caduciflora), is a perennial native to China.
Texas wild rice is in danger of extinction due to loss of suitable habitat in its limited range and to pollution. The pollen of Texas wild rice can only travel about 30 inches away from a parent plant. If pollen does not land on a receptive female flower within that distance, no seeds are produced. Manchurian wild rice has almost disappeared from the wild in its native range, but has been accidentally introduced into the wild in New Zealand and is considered an invasive species there.

 

 

 

Cooked wild rice.

Cooked wild rice.

The species most commonly harvested as grain is the annual species Zizania palustris. Native Americans and others harvest wild rice by canoeing into a stand of plants, and bending the ripe grain heads with wooden sticks called knockers, so as to thresh the seeds into the canoe.

The size of the knockers, as well as other details, are prescribed in state and tribal law. By Minnesota statute, knockers must be at most 1 inch in diameter, 30 inches long, and one pound in weight. The plants are not beaten with the knockers but require only a gentle brushing to dislodge the mature grain. The Ojibwa people call this plant manoomin, meaning “harvesting berry” but commonly explained to mean “good berry”. Some seeds fall to the muddy bottom and germinate later in the year.

Several Native American cultures, such as the Ojibwa, consider wild rice to be a sacred component in their culture. The rice is harvested with a canoe: one person vans (or “knocks”) rice into the canoe with two small poles (called “knockers” or “flails”) while the other paddles slowly or uses a push pole. For these groups, this harvest is an important cultural (and often economic) event. Named by the Ojibwe, the neighboring Omanoominii (the Menominee tribe, whose endonym is Mamaceqtaw, “the people”) is named after this plant. Many places in Illinois, Indiana, Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Wisconsin are named after this plant, including Mahnomen, Minnesota, Menomonie, Wisconsin and many lakes and streams bearing the name “Rice”, “Wildrice”, “Wild Rice” or “Zizania”.

Because of its nutritional value and taste, wild rice increased in popularity in the late 20th century, and commercial cultivation began in the US and Canada to supply the increased demand. In 1950 James and Gerald Godward started experimenting with wild rice in a one acre meadow north of Brainerd, Minnesota. They constructed dikes around the acre, dug ditches for drainage, and put in water controls. In the fall they tilled the soil, and in the spring of 1951 they acquired 50 pounds of seed from Wildlife Nurseries Inc. They scattered the seed onto the soil, disked it in, and flooded the paddy. Much to their surprise, since they were told that wild rice needs flowing water to grow well, the seeds spouted and produced a crop. James and Gerald continued to experiment with wild rice throughout the early 1950s and were the first to officially cultivate the previously wild crop.

In the US, the main producers are California and Minnesota (where it is the official state grain) and it is mainly cultivated in paddy fields. In Canada, it is usually harvested from natural bodies of water; the largest producer is the province of Saskatchewan. Wild rice is also produced in Hungary and Australia. In Hungary, cultivation started in 1974 on the rice field of Szarvas.[citation needed] The Indian Rice Ltd. was founded in 1990. Now, the Hungarian wild rice growing and processing is managed only by this company. In Australia production is controlled by Ricewild Pty. Ltd. at Deniliquin in Southern New South Wales.

Manchurian wild rice (Chinese: 菰; pinyin: gū), gathered from the wild, was once an important grain in ancient China. Because of the difficulty of its domestication, it gradually lost importance with increasing population density, as its habitat was converted for use in raising rice.[citation needed] It is now very rare in the wild, and its use as a grain has completely disappeared in China, though it continues to be cultivated for its stems.

 

 

 
Typically sold as a dried whole grain, wild rice is high in protein, the amino acid lysine and dietary fiber, and low in fat. Nutritional analysis shows wild rice to be second only to oats (quinoa was third) in protein content per 100 calories. Like true rice, it does not contain gluten. It is also a good source of certain minerals and B vitamins. One cup of cooked wild rice provides 5% or more of the daily value of thiamin, riboflavin, iron, and potassium; 10% or more of the daily value of niacin, b6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus; 15% of zinc; and over 20% of manganese.

Wild rice seeds can be infected by the highly toxic fungus ergot, which is dangerous if eaten. Infected grains have pink or purplish blotches or growths of the fungus, from the size of a seed to several times larger.

 

 

 

Wild rice stems before and after peeling.

Wild rice stems before and after peeling.

The swollen crisp white stems of Manchurian wild rice are grown as a vegetable, popular in East and Southeast Asia. The swelling occurs because of infection with the smut fungus Ustilago esculenta. The fungus prevents the plant from flowering, so the crop is propagated asexually, the infection being passed from mother plant to daughter plant. Harvest must be made between about 120 days and 170 days after planting, after the stem begins to swell but before the infection reaches its reproductive stage, when the stem will begin to turn black and eventually disintegrate into fungal spores.

The vegetable is especially common in China, where it is known as gaosun or jiaobai. Other names which may be used in English include coba and water bamboo. Importation of the vegetable to the United States is prohibited in order to protect North American species from the fungus.

 

 

Grain of the Week – Wheat

April 10, 2014 at 5:45 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | 1 Comment
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Wheat

Wheat

Wheat (Triticum spp.) is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East and Ethiopian Highlands, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2010, world production of wheat was 651 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize (844 million tons) and rice (672 million tons). Wheat was the second most-produced cereal in 2009; world production in that year was 682 million tons, after maize (817 million tons), and with rice as a close third (679 million tons).

This grain is grown on more land area than any other commercial food. World trade in wheat is greater than for all other crops combined. Globally, wheat is the leading source of vegetable protein in human food, having a higher protein content than other major cereals, maize (corn) or rice. In terms of total production tonnages used for food, it is currently second to rice as the main human food crop and ahead of maize, after allowing for maize’s more extensive use in animal feeds. Along with this wheat can be used in cement

Wheat was a key factor enabling the emergence of city-based societies at the start of civilization because it was one of the first crops that could be easily cultivated on a large scale, and had the additional advantage of yielding a harvest that provides long-term storage of food. Wheat contributed to the emergence of city-states in the Fertile Crescent, including the Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Wheat grain is a staple food used to make flour for leavened, flat and steamed breads, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, couscous and for fermentation to make beer, other alcoholic beverages, or biofuel.

Wheat is planted to a limited extent as a forage crop for livestock, and its straw can be used as a construction material for roofing thatch. The whole grain can be milled to leave just the endosperm for white flour. The by-products of this are bran and germ. The whole grain is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and protein, while the refined grain is mostly starch.

 

 
Wheat is one of the first cereals known to have been domesticated, and wheat’s ability to self-pollinate greatly facilitated the selection of many distinct domesticated varieties. The archaeological record suggests that this first occurred in the regions known as the Fertile Crescent. Recent findings narrow the first domestication of wheat down to a small region of southeastern Turkey, and domesticated Einkorn wheat at Nevalı Çori, 40 mi (64 km) northwest of Gobekli Tepe in Turkey—has been dated to 9,000 BCE. However evidence for the exploitation of wild barley has been dated to 23,000 BCE and some say this is also true of pre-domesticated wheat.

 

 
Technological advances in soil preparation and seed placement at planting time, use of crop rotation and fertilizers to improve plant growth, and advances in harvesting methods have all combined to promote wheat as a viable crop. Agricultural cultivation using horse collar leveraged plows (at about 3000 BCE) was one of the first innovations that increased productivity. Much later, when the use of seed drills replaced broadcasting sowing of seed in the 18th century, another great increase in productivity occurred.

Yields of pure wheat per unit area increased as methods of crop rotation were applied to long cultivated land, and the use of fertilizers became widespread. Improved agricultural husbandry has more recently included threshing machines and reaping machines (the ‘combine harvester’), tractor-drawn cultivators and planters, and better varieties (see Green Revolution and Norin 10 wheat). Great expansion of wheat production occurred as new arable land was farmed in the Americas and Australia in the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

 

 

Wheat harvest on the Palouse, Idaho, United States

Wheat harvest on the Palouse, Idaho, United States

Major cultivated species of wheat
Hexaploid Species

Common wheat or Bread wheat (T. aestivum) – A hexaploid species that is the most widely cultivated in the world.
Spelt (T. spelta) – Another hexaploid species cultivated in limited quantities. Spelt is sometimes considered a subspecies of the closely related species common wheat (T. aestivum), in which case its botanical name is considered to be Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta.
Tetraploid Species

* Durum (T. durum) – The only tetraploid form of wheat widely used today, and the second most widely cultivated wheat.
* Emmer (T. dicoccum) – A tetraploid species, cultivated in ancient times but no longer in widespread use.
Diploid Species

* Einkorn (T. monococcum) – A diploid species with wild and cultivated variants. Domesticated at the same time as emmer wheat, but never reached the same importance.
Classes used in the United States:

* Durum – Very hard, translucent, light-colored grain used to make semolina flour for pasta & bulghur; high in protein, specifically, gluten protein.
* Hard Red Spring – Hard, brownish, high-protein wheat used for bread and hard baked goods. Bread Flour and high-gluten flours are commonly made from hard red spring wheat. It is primarily traded at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.
* Hard Red Winter – Hard, brownish, mellow high-protein wheat used for bread, hard baked goods and as an adjunct in other flours to increase protein in pastry flour for pie crusts. Some brands of unbleached all-purpose flours are commonly made from hard red winter wheat alone. It is primarily traded on the Kansas City Board of Trade. One variety is known as “turkey red wheat”, and was brought to Kansas by Mennonite immigrants from Russia.[45]
* Soft Red Winter – Soft, low-protein wheat used for cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, and muffins. Cake flour, pastry flour, and some self-rising flours with baking powder and salt added, for example, are made from soft red winter wheat. It is primarily traded on the Chicago Board of Trade.
* Hard White – Hard, light-colored, opaque, chalky, medium-protein wheat planted in dry, temperate areas. Used for bread and brewing.
* Soft White – Soft, light-colored, very low protein wheat grown in temperate moist areas. Used for pie crusts and pastry. Pastry flour, for example, is sometimes made from soft white winter wheat.
Red wheats may need bleaching; therefore, white wheats usually command higher prices than red wheats on the commodities market.

 

 

 

Wheat is used in a wide variety of foods.

Wheat is used in a wide variety of foods.

Raw wheat can be ground into flour or, using hard durum wheat only, can be ground into semolina; germinated and dried creating malt; crushed or cut into cracked wheat; parboiled (or steamed), dried, crushed and de-branned into bulgur also known as groats. If the raw wheat is broken into parts at the mill, as is usually done, the outer husk or bran can be used several ways. Wheat is a major ingredient in such foods as bread, porridge, crackers, biscuits, Muesli, pancakes, pies, pastries, cakes, cookies, muffins, rolls, doughnuts, gravy, boza (a fermented beverage), and breakfast cereals (e.g., Wheatena, Cream of Wheat, Shredded Wheat, and Wheaties).

 
Nutrition

100 g (3.5 oz) of hard red winter wheat contain about 12.6 g (0.44 oz) of protein, 1.5 g (0.053 oz) of total fat, 71 g (2.5 oz) of carbohydrate (by difference), 12.2 g (0.43 oz) of dietary fiber, and 3.2 mg (0.00011 oz) of iron (17% of the daily requirement); the same weight of hard red spring wheat contains about 15.4 g (0.54 oz) of protein, 1.9 g (0.067 oz) of total fat, 68 g (2.4 oz) of carbohydrate (by difference), 12.2 g (0.43 oz) of dietary fiber, and 3.6 mg (0.00013 oz) of iron (20% of the daily requirement).

Much of the carbohydrate fraction of wheat is starch. Wheat starch is an important commercial product of wheat, but second in economic value to wheat gluten. The principal parts of wheat flour are gluten and starch. These can be separated in a kind of home experiment, by mixing flour and water to form a small ball of dough, and kneading it gently while rinsing it in a bowl of water. The starch falls out of the dough and sinks to the bottom of the bowl, leaving behind a ball of gluten.

In wheat, phenolic compounds are mainly found in the form of insoluble bound ferulic acid and be relevant to resistance to wheat fungal diseases. Alkylresorcinols are phenolic lipids present in high amounts in the bran layer (e.g. pericarp, testa and aleurone layers) of wheat and rye (0.1-0.3% of dry weight).

Grain of the Week – Rye

April 3, 2014 at 5:25 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | 2 Comments
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Rye

Rye

Rye (Secale cereale) is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe (Triticeae) and is closely related to barley (Hordeum) and wheat (Triticum). Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, crisp bread, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder. It can also be eaten whole, either as boiled rye berries, or by being rolled, similar to rolled oats.
Rye is a cereal grain and should not be confused with ryegrass, which is used for lawns, pasture, and hay for livestock.

 

 

 
Rye is one of a number of species that grow wild in central and eastern Turkey, and in adjacent areas. Domesticated rye occurs in small quantities at a number of Neolithic sites in (Asia Minor) Turkey, such as PPNB Can Hasan III, but is otherwise virtually absent from the archaeological record until the Bronze Age of central Europe, c. 1800–1500 BC. It is possible that rye traveled west from (Asia Minor) Turkey as a minor admixture in wheat (possibly as a result of Vavilovian mimicry), and was only later cultivated in its own right. Although archeological evidence of this grain has been found in Roman contexts along the Rhine, Danube, and in the British Isles, Pliny the Elder was dismissive of rye, writing that it “is a very poor food and only serves to avert starvation” and spelt is mixed into it “to mitigate its bitter taste, and even then is most unpleasant to the stomach”.
Since the Middle Ages people have cultivated rye widely in Central and Eastern Europe. It serves as the main bread cereal in most areas east of the French-German border and north of Hungary. In Southern Europe, it was cultivated on marginal lands.
Claims of much earlier cultivation of rye, at the Epipalaeolithic site of Tell Abu Hureyra in the Euphrates valley of northern Syria remain controversial. Critics point to inconsistencies in the radiocarbon dates, and identifications based solely on grain, rather than on chaff.

 

 

 
Winter rye is any breed of rye planted in the fall to provide ground cover for the winter. It actually grows during any warmer days of the winter, when sunlight temporarily warms the plant above freezing, even while there is general snow cover. It can be used to prevent the growth of winter-hardy weeds, and can either be harvested as a bonus crop, or tilled directly into the ground in spring to provide more organic matter for the next summer’s crop. It is sometimes used in winter gardens, and is a common nurse crop.
The flame moth, rustic shoulder-knot and turnip moth are among the species of Lepidoptera whose larvae feed on rye.

 

 

 

Wild Rye

Wild Rye

Rye is grown primarily in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe. The main rye belt stretches from northern Germany through Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia into central and northern Russia. Rye is also grown in North America (Canada and the USA), in South America (Argentina, Brazil), in Turkey, in Kazakstan and in northern China.
Production levels of rye are falling in most of the producing nations. For instance, production of rye in Russia fell from 13.9 million tons in 1992 to just 3.4 Mt in 2005. Corresponding figures for other countries are as follows: Poland – 5.9 Mt in 1992 and 3.4 Mt in 2005; Germany – 3.3 Mt & 2.8 Mt; Belarus – 3.1 Mt & 1.2 Mt; China – 1.7 Mt & 0.6 Mt; Kazakhstan – 0.6 Mt & 0.02 Mt.
Most rye is consumed locally, and is exported only to neighboring countries, but not worldwide.

 

 

 
Rye bread, including pumpernickel, is a widely eaten food in Northern and Eastern Europe. Rye is also used to make crisp bread. Rye flour is high in gliadin but low in glutenin. It therefore has a lower gluten content than wheat flour. It also contains a higher proportion of soluble fiber. Alkylresorcinols are phenolic lipids present in high amounts in the bran layer (e.g. pericarp, testa and aleurone layers) of wheat and rye (0.1-0.3 % of dry weight).
Rye is used to make alcoholic drinks, like rye whiskey and rye beer. Other uses of rye include kvass and an alternative medicine known as rye extract. Rye straw is used to make corn dollies.

 

 

 

Cereal Rye

Cereal Rye

Rye grows well in much poorer soils than those necessary for most cereal grains. Thus, it is an especially valuable crop in regions where the soil has sand or peat. Rye plants withstand cold better than other small grains do. Rye will survive with snow cover that would otherwise result in winter-kill for winter wheat. Most farmers grow winter ryes, which are planted and begin to grow in autumn. In spring, the plants develop and produce their crop. Fall planted rye shows fast growth. By the summer solstice plants reach their maximum height, of about a 120 cm (4 ft) while spring planted wheat has only recently germinated. Vigorous growth suppresses even the most noxious weed competitors, and rye can be grown without application of herbicides. Rye is a common, unwanted invader of winter wheat fields. If allowed to grow and mature, it may cause substantially reduced prices (docking) for harvested wheat.

 

 

 

Grain of the Week – Spelt

March 27, 2014 at 5:39 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | Leave a comment
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Spelt

Spelt

Spelt, also known as dinkel wheat, or hulled wheat, is an ancient species of wheat from the fifth millennium BC. Spelt was an important staple in parts of Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times; it now survives as a relict crop in Central Europe and northern Spain and has found a new market as a health food. Spelt is sometimes considered a subspecies of the closely related species common wheat (T. aestivum), in which case its botanical name is considered to be Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta. It is a hexaploid wheat, which means it has six sets of chromosomes.

 

 

 

Spelt has a complex history. It is a wheat species known from genetic evidence to have originated as a hybrid of a domesticated tetraploid wheat such as emmer wheat and the wild goat-grass Aegilops tauschii. This hybridisation must have taken place in the Near East because this is where Ae. tauschii grows, and it must have taken place before the appearance of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum, a hexaploid free-threshing derivative of spelt) in the archaeological record c. 8,000 years ago.
Genetic evidence shows that spelt wheat can also arise as the result of hybridisation of bread wheat and emmer wheat, although only at some date following the initial Aegilops-tetraploid wheat hybridisation. The much later appearance of spelt in Europe might thus be the result of a later, second, hybridisation between emmer and bread wheat. Recent DNA evidence supports an independent origin for European spelt through this hybridisation. Whether spelt has two separate origins in Asia and Europe, or single origin in the Near East, is currently unresolved.

 

 

 

The earliest archaeological evidence of spelt is from the fifth millennium BC in Transcaucasia, north-east of the Black Sea, though the most abundant and best-documented archaeological evidence of spelt is in Europe.[6] Remains of spelt have been found in some later Neolithic sites (2500–1700 BC) in Central Europe. During the Bronze Age, spelt spread widely in central Europe. In the Iron Age (750-15 BC), spelt became a principal wheat species in southern Germany and Switzerland; by 500 BC, it was in common use in southern Britain.
References to the cultivation of spelt wheat in Biblical times (see matzo), in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and in ancient Greece are incorrect and result from confusion with emmer wheat.

 

 

 
In the Middle Ages, spelt was cultivated in parts of Switzerland, Tyrol and Germany. Spelt was introduced to the United States in the 1890s. In the 20th century, spelt was replaced by bread wheat in almost all areas where it was still grown. The organic farming movement revived its popularity somewhat toward the end of the century, as spelt requires fewer fertilizers

 

 

 

Spelt, without and with husks

Spelt, without and with husks

Spelt contains about 57.9 percent carbohydrates (excluding 9.2 percent fibre), 17.0 percent protein and 3.0 percent fat, as well as dietary minerals and vitamins. As it contains a moderate amount of gluten, it is suitable for some baking. However, because spelt contains gluten it is not suitable for people with coeliac disease. In comparison to hard red winter wheat, spelt has a more soluble protein matrix characterized by a higher gliadin:glutenin ratio.

 

 

 
Spelt flour is becoming more easily available, being sold in British supermarkets for a number of years. Spelt bread is sold in health food shops and some bakeries in an increasing variety of types of loaf, similar in colour to light rye breads but usually with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Biscuits, crackers, and pretzels are also produced, but are more likely to be found in a specialty bakery or health food store than in a regular grocer’s shop.
Spelt pasta is also available in health food stores and specialty shops.
Dutch Jenever makers distil with spelt. Beer brewed from spelt is sometimes seen in Bavaria and Belgium and spelt is distilled to make vodka in Poland and elsewhere.
Flour from sprouted spelt grains is increasingly available throughout North America in grocery and health food stores.
In Germany, spelt loaves and rolls (Dinkelbrot) are widely available in bakeries as is spelt flour in supermarkets. The unripe spelt grains are dried and eaten as Grünkern (‘green grain’).
Spelt is more expensive than modern wheats, first because it is a minority product, but also because it requires the extra stage of husk removal before milling. It makes a rather soft, light loaf with a very good flavour, and it is particularly good for flatbreads, because they can become crisp without being hard (ordinary wheat pizza, for instance, tends to be either tough and leathery or hard).

 

Grain of the Week – Rice

March 20, 2014 at 8:28 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week, rice | Leave a comment
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Grain of the Week – Rice

A mixture of brown, white, and red indica rice, also containing wild rice, Zizania species

A mixture of brown, white, and red indica rice, also containing wild rice, Zizania species

Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice). As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world’s human population, especially in Asia. It is the grain with the second-highest worldwide production, after corn, according to data for 2010.
Since a large portion of maize crops are grown for purposes other than human consumption, rice is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.
Genetic evidence has shown that rice originates from a single domestication 8,200–13,500 years ago in the Pearl River valley region of China. Previously, archaeological evidence had suggested that rice was domesticated in the Yangtze River valley region in China. From East Asia, rice spread to Southeast and South Asia. Rice was introduced to Europe through Western Asia, and to the Americas through European colonization.
There are many varieties of rice and culinary preferences tend to vary regionally. In some areas such as the Far East or Spain, there is a preference for softer and stickier varieties.
Rice is normally grown as an annual plant, although in tropical areas it can survive as a perennial and can produce a ratoon crop for up to 30 years. The rice plant can grow to 1–1.8 m (3.3–5.9 ft) tall, occasionally more depending on the variety and soil fertility. It has long, slender leaves 50–100 cm (20–39 in) long and 2–2.5 cm (0.79–0.98 in) broad. The small wind-pollinated flowers are produced in a branched arching to pendulous inflorescence 30–50 cm (12–20 in) long. The edible seed is a grain (caryopsis) 5–12 mm (0.20–0.47 in) long and 2–3 mm (0.079–0.118 in) thick.

 

Rice cultivation is well-suited to countries and regions with low labor costs and high rainfall, as it is labor-intensive to cultivate and requires ample water. However, rice can be grown practically anywhere, even on a steep hill or mountain area with the use of water-controlling terrace systems. Although its parent species are native to Asia and certain parts of Africa, centuries of trade and exportation have made it commonplace in many cultures worldwide.
The traditional method for cultivating rice is flooding the fields while, or after, setting the young seedlings. This simple method requires sound planning and servicing of the water damming and channeling, but reduces the growth of less robust weed and pest plants that have no submerged growth state, and deters vermin. While flooding is not mandatory for the cultivation of rice, all other methods of irrigation require higher effort in weed and pest control during growth periods and a different approach for fertilizing the soil.
The name wild rice is usually used for species of the genera Zizania and Porteresia, both wild and domesticated, although the term may also be used for primitive or uncultivated varieties of Oryza.

 

 

 

Oryza sativa with small wind pollinated flowers

Oryza sativa with small wind pollinated flowers

The seeds of the rice plant are first milled using a rice huller to remove the chaff (the outer husks of the grain). At this point in the process, the product is called brown rice. The milling may be continued, removing the bran, i.e., the rest of the husk and the germ, thereby creating white rice. White rice, which keeps longer, lacks some important nutrients; moreover, in a limited diet which does not supplement the rice, brown rice helps to prevent the disease beriberi.
Either by hand or in a rice polisher, white rice may be buffed with glucose or talc powder (often called polished rice, though this term may also refer to white rice in general), parboiled, or processed into flour. White rice may also be enriched by adding nutrients, especially those lost during the milling process. While the cheapest method of enriching involves adding a powdered blend of nutrients that will easily wash off (in the United States, rice which has been so treated requires a label warning against rinsing), more sophisticated methods apply nutrients directly to the grain, coating the grain with a water-insoluble substance which is resistant to washing.
In some countries, a popular form, parboiled rice, is subjected to a steaming or parboiling process while still a brown rice grain. This causes nutrients from the outer husk, especially thiamine, to move into the grain itself. The parboil process causes a gelatinisation of the starch in the grains. The grains become less brittle, and the color of the milled grain changes from white to yellow. The rice is then dried, and can then be milled as usual or used as brown rice. Milled parboiled rice is nutritionally superior to standard milled rice. Parboiled rice has an additional benefit in that it does not stick to the pan during cooking, as happens when cooking regular white rice. This type of rice is eaten in parts of India and countries of West Africa are also accustomed to consuming parboiled rice.
Despite the hypothetical health risks of talc (such as stomach cancer), talc-coated rice remains the norm in some countries due to its attractive shiny appearance, but it has been banned in some, and is no longer widely used in others (such as the United States). Even where talc is not used, glucose, starch, or other coatings may be used to improve the appearance of the grains.
Rice bran, called nuka in Japan, is a valuable commodity in Asia and is used for many daily needs. It is a moist, oily inner layer which is heated to produce oil. It is also used as a pickling bed in making rice bran pickles and takuan.
Raw rice may be ground into flour for many uses, including making many kinds of beverages, such as amazake, horchata, rice milk, and rice wine. Rice flour does not contain gluten, so is suitable for people on a gluten-free diet. Rice may also be made into various types of noodles. Raw, wild, or brown rice may also be consumed by raw-foodist or fruitarians if soaked and sprouted (usually a week to 30 days – gaba rice).
Processed rice seeds must be boiled or steamed before eating. Boiled rice may be further fried in cooking oil or butter (known as fried rice), or beaten in a tub to make mochi.
Rice is a good source of protein and a staple food in many parts of the world, but it is not a complete protein: it does not contain all of the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts for good health, and should be combined with other sources of protein, such as nuts, seeds, beans, fish, or meat.
Rice, like other cereal grains, can be puffed (or popped). This process takes advantage of the grains’ water content and typically involves heating grains in a special chamber. Further puffing is sometimes accomplished by processing puffed pellets in a low-pressure chamber. The ideal gas law means either lowering the local pressure or raising the water temperature results in an increase in volume prior to water evaporation, resulting in a puffy texture. Bulk raw rice density is about 0.9 g/cm³. It decreases to less than one-tenth that when puffed.

 

 

 

The many varieties of rice, for many purposes, are distinguished as long-, medium-, and short-grain rices. The grains of fragrant long-grain rice (high amylose) tend to remain intact after cooking; medium-grain rice (high amylopectin) becomes more sticky. Medium-grain rice is used for sweet dishes, for risotto in Italy and many rice dishes, such as arròs negre, in Spain. Some varieties of long-grain rice are high in amylopectin, these are generally known as Thai Sticky rice, usually steamed. A stickier medium-grain rice is used for sushi; the stickiness lets the rice be moulded into a solid shape. Short-grain rice is often used for rice pudding.

Rice is cooked by boiling or steaming, and absorbs water during cooking. It can be cooked in just as much water as it absorbs (the absorption method), or in a large quantity of water which is drained before serving (the rapid-boil method). Electric rice cookers, popular in Asia and Latin America, simplify the process of cooking rice. Rice (or any other grain) is sometimes quickly fried in oil or fat before boiling (for example saffron rice or risotto); this makes the cooked rice less sticky, and is a cooking style commonly called pilaf by American chefs or biryani (Dam-pukhtak) in India, Pakistan, and Iran.

In Arab cuisine, rice is an ingredient of many soups and dishes with fish, poultry, and other types of meat. It is also used to stuff vegetables or is wrapped in grape leaves (dolma). When combined with milk, sugar, and honey, it is used to make desserts. In some regions, such as Tabaristan, bread is made using rice flour. Medieval Islamic texts spoke of medical uses for the plant.
Rice may also be made into congee (also called rice porridge, fawrclaab, okayu, Xifan, jook, or rice gruel) by adding more water than usual, so that the cooked rice is saturated with water, usually to the point that it disintegrates. Rice porridge is commonly eaten as a breakfast food, and is also a traditional food for the sick.
Rice may be soaked prior to cooking, which saves fuel, decreases cooking time, minimizes exposure to high temperature and thus decreases the stickiness of the rice. For some varieties, soaking improves the texture of the cooked rice by increasing expansion of the grains.
Instant rice differs from parboiled rice in that it is milled, fully cooked and then dried. There is a significant degradation in taste and texture.
A nutritionally superior method of preparing brown rice known as GABA Rice or GBR (germinated brown rice) may be used. This involves soaking washed brown rice for 20 hours in warm water (38 °C or 100 °F) prior to cooking it. This stimulates germination, which activates various enzymes in the rice. By this method, a result of research carried out for the United Nations International Year of Rice, it is possible to obtain a more complete amino acid profile, including GABA.
Rice flour and starch often are used in batters and breadings to increase crispiness.

 

 

 

Rice is the staple food of over half the world’s population. It is the predominant dietary energy source for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, 9 countries in North and South America and 8 countries in Africa. Rice provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply, while wheat supplies 19% and maize (corn) 5%.
A detailed analysis of nutrient content of rice suggests that the nutrition value of rice varies based on a number of factors. It depends on the strain of rice, that is between white, brown, black, red and purple varieties of rice – each prevalent in different parts of the world. It also depends on nutrient quality of the soil rice is grown in, whether and how the rice is polished or processed, the manner it is enriched, and how it is prepared before consumption.
An illustrative comparison between white and brown rice of protein quality, mineral and vitamin quality, carbohydrate and fat quality suggests that neither is a complete nutrition source. Between the two, there is a significant difference in fiber content and minor differences in other nutrients.
Brilliantly colored rice strains, such as purple rice, derive their color from anthocyanins and tocols. Scientific studies suggest that these color pigments have antioxidant properties that may be useful to human health. In purple rice bran, hydrophilic antioxidants are in greater quantity and have higher free radical scavenging activity than lipophilic antioxidants. Anthocyanins and γ-tocols in purple rice are largely located in the inner portion of purple rice bran.
Comparative nutrition studies on red, black and white varieties of rice suggest that pigments in red and black rice varieties may offer nutritional benefits. Red or black rice consumption was found to reduce or retard the progression of atherosclerotic plaque development, induced by dietary cholesterol, in mammals. White rice consumption offered no similar benefits, and the study claims this to be due to absent antioxidants in red and black varieties of rice.

 

 

South Carolina rice plantation

South Carolina rice plantation

 

In 1694, rice arrived in South Carolina, probably originating from Madagascar.
In the United States, colonial South Carolina and Georgia grew and amassed great wealth from the slave labor obtained from the Senegambia area of West Africa and from coastal Sierra Leone. At the port of Charleston, through which 40% of all American slave imports passed, slaves from this region of Africa brought the highest prices due to their prior knowledge of rice culture, which was put to use on the many rice plantations around Georgetown, Charleston, and Savannah.
From the enslaved Africans, plantation owners learned how to dyke the marshes and periodically flood the fields. At first the rice was laboriously milled by hand using large mortars and pestles made of wood, then winnowed in sweetgrass baskets (the making of which was another skill brought by slaves from Africa). The invention of the rice mill increased profitability of the crop, and the addition of water power for the mills in 1787 by millwright Jonathan Lucas was another step forward.
Rice culture in the southeastern U.S. became less profitable with the loss of slave labor after the American Civil War, and it finally died out just after the turn of the 20th century. Today, people can visit the only remaining rice plantation in South Carolina that still has the original winnowing barn and rice mill from the mid-19th century at the historic Mansfield Plantation in Georgetown, South Carolina. The predominant strain of rice in the Carolinas was from Africa and was known as “Carolina Gold.” The cultivar has been preserved and there are current attempts to reintroduce it as a commercially grown crop.
In the southern United States, rice has been grown in southern Arkansas, Louisiana, and east Texas since the mid-19th century. Many Cajun farmers grew rice in wet marshes and low lying prairies where they could also farm crayfish when the fields were flooded. In recent years rice production has risen in North America, especially in the Mississippi River Delta areas in the states of Arkansas and Mississippi.
Rice cultivation began in California during the California Gold Rush, when an estimated 40,000 Chinese laborers immigrated to the state and grew small amounts of the grain for their own consumption. However, commercial production began only in 1912 in the town of Richvale in Butte County. By 2006, California produced the second largest rice crop in the United States, after Arkansas, with production concentrated in six counties north of Sacramento. Unlike the Mississippi Delta region, California’s production is dominated by short- and medium-grain japonica varieties, including cultivars developed for the local climate such as Calrose, which makes up as much as 85% of the state’s crop.
References to wild rice in the Americas are to the unrelated Zizania palustris
More than 100 varieties of rice are commercially produced primarily in six states (Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and California) in the U.S. According to estimates for the 2006 crop year, rice production in the U.S. is valued at $1.88 billion, approximately half of which is expected to be exported. The U.S. provides about 12% of world rice trade. The majority of domestic utilization of U.S. rice is direct food use (58%), while 16% is used in each of processed foods and beer. 10% is found in pet food.

Grain of the Week – Sorghum

March 13, 2014 at 8:25 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | 1 Comment
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Sorghum

Sorghum

Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants, either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warm climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents in addition to the southwest Pacific and Australasia. Sorghum is in the subfamily Panicoideae and the tribe of Andropogoneae (the tribe of big bluestem and sugar cane).

 

 

A sorghum field

A sorghum field

 

One species, Sorghum bicolor, is an important world crop, used for food (as grain and in sorghum syrup or “sorghum molasses”), fodder, the production of alcoholic beverages, and biofuels. Most varieties are drought- and heat-tolerant, and are especially important in arid regions, where the grain is one of the staples for poor and rural people. These varieties form important components of pastures in many tropical regions. Sorghum bicolor is an important food crop in Africa, Central America, and South Asia and is the “fifth most important cereal crop grown in the world”.
Some species of sorghum can contain levels of hydrogen cyanide, hordenine and nitrates lethal to grazing animals in the early stages of the plant’s growth. When stressed by drought or heat, plants can also contain toxic levels of cyanide and/or nitrates at later stages in growth.
Another Sorghum species, Johnson grass (S. halapense), is classified as an invasive species in the US by the Department of Agriculture.
Sorghum vulgare var. technicum is commonly called broomcorn.

 

 

Grain of the Week – Millet

March 6, 2014 at 6:53 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | 2 Comments
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Pearl millet in the field

Pearl millet in the field

Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for both human food and fodder. They do not form a taxonomic group, but rather a functional or agronomic one. Millets are important crops in the semi-arid tropics of Asia and Africa (especially in India, Nigeria, and Niger), with 97% of millet production in developing countries. The crop is favored due to its productivity and short growing season under dry, high temperature conditions.
The most widely grown millet is pearl millet, which is an important sized crop in India and parts of Africa. Finger millet, proso millet, and foxtail millet are also important crop species. In the developed world, millets are less important. For example, in the United States the only significant crop is proso millet, which is mostly grown for bird seed.
While millets are indigenous to many parts of the world, millets most likely had an evolutionary origin in tropical western Africa, as that is where the greatest number of both wild and cultivated forms exist. Millets have been important food staples in human history, particularly in Asia and Africa, and they have been in cultivation in East Asia for the last 10,000 years.

 

 

 

Pearl millet

Pearl millet

The height of the pearl millet plant may range from 0.5 to 4 metres. The pearl millet grain has great variation, and can be nearly white, pale yellow, brown, grey, slate blue or purple. The kernel shape has five different classifications: obovate, hexagonal, lanceolate, globular, and elliptical. Grains of pearl millet are about 3 to 4 mm long, much larger than those of other millets. The seeds usually weigh between 2.5 and 14 mg, with a typical mean of 8 mg. The size of the pearl millet kernel is about one-third that of sorghum. The relative proportion of germ to endosperm is higher in pearl millet than in sorghum.
The height of finger millet plant ranges from 40 cm to 1 metre, with the spike length ranging from 3 to 13 cm. The colour of finger millet grains may vary from white through orange-red, deep brown, purple, to almost black. The grains are smaller than those of pearl millet. The typical mean weight of finger millet seed is about 2.6 mg.

 

 

 
– Major millets (The most widely cultivated species)
– Minor millets
Andropogoneae tribe :
* Coix spp. : Job’s tears
* Eragrostideae tribe :
* Eleusine coracana : Finger millet (also known as ragi, nachani or mandwa in India), fourth most cultivated millet
* Eragrostis tef : Teff
* Panicoideae tribe :
* Brachiaria deflexa : Guinea millet
* Digitaria spp. : Fonio species
* Echinochloa spp. : Japanese barnyard millet, Indian barnyard millet (syn. : sawa millet) (also known as “bhagar” or “varai” in Maharashtra, India)
* Panicum miliaceum : Proso millet (syn. : common millet, broom corn millet, hog millet or white millet), 3ʳᵈ most cultivated millet
* Paspalum scrobiculatum : Kodo millet
* Pennisetum glaucum : Pearl millet (also known as bajra in India only in Hindi states), the most cultivated millet
* Setaria italica : Foxtail millet, second most cultivated millet (also known as “kang or rala” in Maharashtra, India)
* Urochloa ramosa : Browntop millet
Corn and sorghum are occasionally counted as major millets.

 

 

 

Ripe head of proso millet

Ripe head of proso millet

Pearl millet is one of the two major crops in the semiarid, impoverished, less fertile agriculture regions of Africa and southeast Asia. Millets are not only adapted to poor, droughty, and infertile soils, but they are also more reliable under these conditions than most other grain crops. This has, in part, made millet production popular, particularly in countries surrounding the Sahara Desert in western Africa.
Millets, however, do respond to high fertility and moisture. On a per hectare basis, millet grain produced per hectare can be two to four times higher with use of proper irrigation and sustainable soil supplements. Improved breeds of millets improve their disease resistance and can significantly enhance farm yield productivity. There has been a virtuous cycle of cooperation between poor countries to improve millet yields. For example, ‘Okashana 1’, a variety developed in India from a natural-growing millet variety in Burkina Faso, doubled yields. This breed was selected for trials in Zimbabwe. From there it was taken to Namibia, where it was released in 1990 and enthusiastically adopted by farmers. Okashana 1 grew to become the most popular variety in Namibia, the only non-Sahelian country where pearl millet – locally known as mahangu – is the dominant food staple for consumers. ‘Okashana 1’ was then introduced to Chad. The breed has significantly enhanced yields in Mauritania and Benin.
India is the world’s largest producer of millets. In the 1970s, all of the millet crops harvested in India were used as food staple. By 2000s, the annual millets production had increased in India, yet per capita consumption of millets had dropped by between 50% to 75% in different regions of the country. As of 2005, the majority of millets produced in India is being used for alternative applications such as livestock fodder and alcohol production. Indian organizations are discussing ways to increase millet use as food to encourage more production; however, they have found that some consumers prefer the taste of other grains over millet.
In 2010, the average yield of millet crops worldwide was 0.83 tonnes per hectare. The most productive millet farms in the world were in France, with a nationwide average yield of 3.3 tonnes per hectare in 2010.

 

 

 

Tongba — a millet-based alcoholic brew

Tongba — a millet-based alcoholic brew

Millets are traditionally important grains used in brewing millet beer in some cultures, for instance by the Tao people of Orchid Island and in Taiwan. Various peoples in East Africa brew a drink from millet or sorghum known as “ajono”, a traditional brew of the Teso. The fermented millet is prepared in a large pot with hot water and people share the drink by sipping it through long straws.
Millet is also the base ingredient for the distilled liquor rakshi in Nepal and the indigenous alcoholic drink of the Sherpa, Tamang, Rai and Limbu people, tongba, in eastern Nepal. In Balkan suhail countries, especially Romania and Bulgaria, millet is used to prepare the fermented drink boza.

 

 

 
Millets are major food sources in arid and semiarid regions of the world, and feature in the traditional cuisine of many others. In western India, sorghum (called jowar, jwaarie or jondhahlaa in Gujarati, Hindi and Marathi languages, respectively, or mutthaari kora “pangapullu”in Malayalam), or Cholam in Tamil has been commonly used with millet flour (called bajari in western India) for hundreds of years to make the local staple, hand rolled (that is, without a rolling pin) flat bread (rotla in Gujarati or bhakri in Marathi or roti in other languages). Another cereal grain popularly used in rural areas and by poor people to consume as staple in the form of roti or other forms is called ragi in Karnataka or naachanie in Maharashtra or Kezhvaragu in Tamil, with the popularly made ragi rotti in Kannada. Ragi mudde is a popular meal in southern India. In Telugu, it is called jonnalu (Jonnalu). Jonna is dark like rye, but rougher in texture.
Millet porridge is a traditional food in Russian, German and Chinese сuisines. In Russia, it is eaten sweet (with milk and sugar added at the end of the cooking process) or savoury with meat or vegetable stews. In China, it is eaten without milk or sugar, frequently with beans, sweet potato, and/or various types of squash. In Germany, it is also eaten sweet, boiled in water with apples added during the boiling process and honey added during the cooling process.
Per capita consumption of millets, as food, varies in different parts of the world. It is highest in western Africa. In the Sahel region, millet is estimated to account for about 35% of total cereal food consumption in Burkina Faso, Chad and the Gambia. In Mali and Senegal, millets constitute roughly 40 percent of total cereal food consumption per capita, while in Niger and arid Namibia it is over 65% (See Mahangu). Other countries in Africa where millets are a significant food source include Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda. Millet is also an important food item for the population living in the drier parts of many other countries, especially in eastern and central Africa, and in the northern coastal countries of western Africa. In developing countries outside Africa, millet has local significance as a food in parts of some countries, such as China, India, Burma and North Korea.
The use of millets as food has been falling on per capita basis, between the 1970s and the 2000s, both in urban and rural areas, as developing countries such as India have experienced rapid economic growth and witnessed a significant increase in per capita consumption of other cereals.
People with coeliac disease can replace certain gluten-containing cereals in their diets with millet.
Millets are also used as bird and animal feed.

 

 

 

Awaokoshi, candied millet puffs

Awaokoshi, candied millet puffs

Millets, like sorghum, are predominantly starchy. The protein content is comparable to that of wheat and maize. Pearl and little millet are higher in fat, while finger millet contains the lowest fat. Barnyard millet has the lowest carbohydrate content and energy value. Millets are also relatively rich in iron and phosphorus. The bran layers of millets are good sources of B-complex vitamins. However, millets also feature high fiber content and poor digestibility of nutrients, which severely limit their value in nutrition and influence their consumer acceptability.
Finger millet has the highest calcium content among all the foodgrains, but it is not highly assimilable.
The protein content in millet is very close to that of wheat; both provide about 11% protein by weight, on a dry matter basis.
Millets are rich in B vitamins (especially niacin, B6 and folic acid), calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Millets contain no gluten, so they are not suitable for raised bread. When combined with wheat (or xanthan gum for those who have celiac disease) they can be used for raised bread. Alone, they are suited for flatbread.
As none of the millets is closely related to wheat, they are appropriate foods for those with celiac disease or other forms of allergies/intolerance of wheat. However, millets are also a mild thyroid peroxidase inhibitor and probably should not be consumed in great quantities by those with thyroid disease.

Grain of the Week – Semolina Wheat

February 27, 2014 at 6:47 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | Leave a comment
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Semolina

Semolina

Semolina is the coarse, purified wheat middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta, breakfast cereals, puddings, and couscous. The term semolina is also used to designate coarse middlings from other varieties of wheat, and from other grains such as rice and maize.

 

 

 
Semolina is derived from the Italian word semola, meaning ‘bran’. This is derived from the ancient Latin simila, meaning ‘flour’, itself a borrowing from Greek σεμίδαλις (semidalis), “groats”. The words simila, semidalis, groat, and grain may all have similar proto-Indo-European origins as two Sanskrit terms for wheat, samita and godhuma. Semolina may also be a loan word from the Semitic root smd – to grind into groats.

 

 

 
Modern milling of wheat into flour is a process that employs grooved steel rollers. The rollers are adjusted so that the space between them is slightly narrower than the width of the wheat kernels. As the wheat is fed into the mill, the rollers flake off the bran and germ while the starch (or endosperm) is cracked into coarse pieces in the process. Through sifting, these endosperm particles, the semolina, are separated from the bran. The semolina is then ground into flour. This greatly simplifies the process of separating the endosperm from the bran and germ, as well as making it possible to separate the endosperm into different grades because the inner part of the endosperm tends to break down into smaller pieces than the outer part. Different grades of flour can be thus produced.

 

 

 
Semolina made from durum wheat is yellow in color. Semolina is often used as the base for dried products such as couscous, which is made by mixing roughly 2 parts semolina with 1 part durum flour (finely ground semolina).
Broadly speaking, meal produced from grains other than wheat may also be referred to as semolina, e.g. rice semolina, or corn semolina (more commonly known as grits in the U.S.)
When semolina comes from softer types of wheats, it is white in color. In this case, the correct name is flour, not semolina. In the United States, coarser meal coming from softer types of wheats is known also as farina.

 

 

 
Boiled semolina turns into a porridge, known in some areas as Cream of Wheat. In Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Romania and Croatia, semolina is known as Grieß (a word related to “grits”) and is mixed with egg to make Grießknödel, which can be added to soup. The particles are fairly coarse, between 0.25 and 0.75 millimeters in diameter.
In South India, semolina is used to make savory foods, like rava dosa and upma, or puddings, like kesari or sheera. It is sometimes also used to coat slices of fish before it is pan-fried in oil, to give it a crispy coating.
In much of North Africa, durum semolina is made into the staple couscous. Semolina is a common food in West Africa, especially among Nigerians. It is eaten as either lunch or dinner with stew or soup. It is prepared just like eba (cassava flour) or fufu with water and boiled for 5 to 10 minutes.

 

 

 

Dutch semolina pudding with a redcurrant sauce

Dutch semolina pudding with a redcurrant sauce

In Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania and Croatia, semolina is cooked with water or milk and sweetened with squares of chocolate to make the breakfast dish Grießkoch or Grießbrei. In the Netherlands, it is called griesmeelpap, although there is usually no chocolate in it, and it is more a dessert than a breakfast dish. Sweetened semolina, boiled in water or milk into a firm porridge and subsequently refrigerated, is popular in northwestern Europe as a dessert called semolina pudding. It is often flavored with vanilla and served with jam or redcurrant sauce.
In Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine and Russia, it is eaten as breakfast porridge, sometimes mixed with raisins and served with milk. In Swedish it is known as mannagrynsgröt, or boiled together with blueberries, as blåbärsgröt. In Sweden, Estonia, Finland and Latvia, for a dessert usually eaten in summer, semolina is boiled together with juice from berries and then whipped into a light, airy consistency to create klappgröt (Swedish name), also known as vispipuuro (Finnish name) or mannavaht (Estonian name). In the Middle East, it is used to make desserts called harisa, or so-called basbosa or nammora.
In Pakistan and North India, semolina is used for such sweets as suji halwa. Such a preparation is also a popular dessert in Greece (halvas) and Cyprus (halvas or helva). In Cyprus, the semolina may be mixed also with almond cordial to create a light, water-based pudding. In Turkey (“Helva”), Bulgaria (“Halva”), Iran (“Halva”), Pakistan (“Halva”), and Arab countries, halawa is sometimes made with semolina scorched with sugar, butter, milk, and pine nuts.
Basbousa (North African and Alexandrine harisa) is made chiefly of semolina. In some cultures, it is served at funerals, during special celebrations, or as a religious offering.

 

 

 
As an alternative to corn meal, semolina can be used to flour the baking surface to prevent sticking. In bread making, a small proportion of durum semolina added to the usual mix of flour is said to produce a tasty crust.

 

Grain of the Week – Oats

February 20, 2014 at 8:51 AM | Posted in Grain of the Week | Leave a comment
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Oat plants

Oat plants

The common oat (Avena sativa) is a species of cereal grain grown for its seed, which is known by the same name (usually in the plural, unlike other grains). While oats are suitable for human consumption as oatmeal and rolled oats, one of the most common uses is as livestock feed. However, it is uncommon for ordinary people to consume them raw as animals do.

 

 

 
The wild ancestor of Avena sativa and the closely related minor crop, A. byzantina, is the hexaploid wild oat A. sterilis. Genetic evidence shows the ancestral forms of A. sterilis grew in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East. Domesticated oats appear relatively late, and far from the Near East, in Bronze Age Europe. Oats, like rye, are usually considered a secondary crop, i.e., derived from a weed of the primary cereal domesticates wheat and barley. As these cereals spread westwards into cooler, wetter areas, this may have favored the oat weed component, leading to its eventual domestication.

 

 

 
Oats are grown in temperate regions. They have a lower summer heat requirement and greater tolerance of rain than other cereals, such as wheat, rye or barley, so are particularly important in areas with cool, wet summers, such as Northwest Europe; they are even being grown in Iceland to help prolong the growing season.[3] Oats are an annual plant, and can be planted either in autumn (for late summer harvest) or in the spring (for early autumn harvest).
On the Indian subcontinent, oats (known locally in Hindi, Punjabi, Awadhi, Bhojpuri, and Nepali languages as “jaei” are grown on the foothills of Himalayas, such as in the Indian state of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. References to its cultivation can be found in the epic Mahabharat.

 

 

 

Porridge oats before cooking

Porridge oats before cooking

Oats have numerous uses in foods; most commonly, they are rolled or crushed into oatmeal, or ground into fine oat flour. Oatmeal is chiefly eaten as porridge, but may also be used in a variety of baked goods, such as oatcakes, oatmeal cookies, and oat bread. Oats are also an ingredient in many cold cereals, in particular muesli and granola. Oats may also be consumed raw, and cookies with raw oats are becoming popular.
Historical attitudes towards oats have varied. Oat bread was first manufactured in Britain, where the first oat bread factory was established in 1899. In Scotland, they were, and still are, held in high esteem, as a mainstay of the national diet.
In Scotland, a dish called cow pat was made by soaking the husks from oats for a week, so the fine, floury part of the meal remained as sediment to be strained off, boiled and eaten. Oats are also widely used there as a thickener in soups, as barley or rice might be used in other countries.
Oats are also commonly used as feed for horses when extra carbohydrates, and the subsequent boost in energy, are required. The oat hull may be crushed (“rolled” or “crimped”) for the horse to more easily digest the grain,[citation needed] or may be fed whole. They may be given alone or as part of a blended food pellet. Cattle are also fed oats, either whole, or ground into a coarse flour using a roller mill, burr mill, or hammer mill.
Winter oats may be grown as an off-season groundcover and ploughed under in the spring as a green fertilizer, or harvested in early summer. They also can be used for pasture; they can be grazed a while, then allowed to head out for grain production, or grazed continuously until other pastures are ready.
Oat straw is prized by cattle and horse producers as bedding, due to its soft, relatively dust-free, and absorbent nature. The straw can also be used for making corn dollies. Tied in a muslin bag, oat straw was used to soften bath water.
Oats are also occasionally used in several different drinks. In Britain, they are sometimes used for brewing beer. Oatmeal stout is one variety brewed using a percentage of oats for the wort. The more rarely used oat malt is produced by the Thomas Fawcett & Sons Maltings, and was used in the Maclay Oat Malt Stout before Maclays Brewery ceased independent brewing operations. A cold, sweet drink called avena made of ground oats and milk is a popular refreshment throughout Latin America. Oatmeal caudle, made of ale and oatmeal with spices, was a traditional British drink and a favourite of Oliver Cromwell.
Oat extract can also be used to soothe skin conditions. It is the principal ingredient for the Aveeno line of products.
Oat grass has been used traditionally for medicinal purposes, including to help balance the menstrual cycle, treat dysmenorrhoea, and for osteoporosis and urinary tract infections.

 

 

 
Oats are generally considered “healthful”, or a health food, being touted commercially as nutritious. The discovery of their healthy cholesterol-lowering properties has led to wider appreciation of oats as human food.

 

 

 
Oat bran is the outer casing of the oat. Its consumption is believed to lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and possibly to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain, resulting in slower digestion and an extended sensation of fullness. One type of soluble fibre, beta-glucans, has been proven to help lower cholesterol.

Oats are the only cereal containing a globulin or legume-like protein, avenalin, as the major (80%) storage protein. Globulins are characterised by solubility in dilute saline. The more typical cereal proteins, such as gluten and zein, are prolamines (prolamins). The minor protein of oat is a prolamine, avenin.
Oat protein is nearly equivalent in quality to soy protein, which World Health Organization research has shown to be equal to meat, milk, and egg protein. The protein content of the hull-less oat kernel (groat) ranges from 12 to 24%, the highest among cereals.

 

 

 
Oats are sown in the spring or early summer in colder areas, as soon as the soil can be worked. An early start is crucial to good yields, as oats go dormant in summer heat. In warmer areas, oats are sown in late summer or early fall. Oats are cold-tolerant and are unaffected by late frosts or snow.

 

 

 

Harvest techniques are a matter of available equipment, local tradition, and priorities. Farmers seeking the highest yield from their crops time their harvest so the kernels have reached 35% moisture, or when the greenest kernels are just turning cream-color. They then harvest by swathing, cutting the plants at about 10 cm (4 inches) above ground, and putting the swathed plants into windrows with the grain all oriented the same way. They leave the windrows to dry in the sun for several days before combining them using a pickup header. Finally, they bale the straw.
Oats can also be left standing until completely ripe and then combined with a grain head. This causes greater field losses as the grain falls from the heads, and to harvesting losses, as the grain is threshed out by the reel. Without a draper head, there is also more damage to the straw, since it is not properly oriented as it enters the combine’s throat. Overall yield loss is 10–15% compared to proper swathing.
Historical harvest methods involved cutting with a scythe or sickle, and threshing under the feet of cattle. Late 19th- and early 20th-century harvesting was performed using a binder. Oats were gathered into shocks, and then collected and run through a stationary threshing machine.

 

 

 
After combining, the oats are transported to the farmyard using a grain truck, semi, or road train, where they are augered or conveyed into a bin for storage. Sometimes, when there is not enough bin space, they are augered into portable grain rings, or piled on the ground. Oats can be safely stored at 12% moisture; at higher moisture levels, they must be aerated, or dried.

 

 

 

Oat grains in their husks

Oat grains in their husks

In the United States, No.1 oats weigh 42 pounds per US bushel (541 kg/m3); No.3 oats must weigh at least 38 lb/US bu (489 kg/m3). If over 36 lb/US bu (463 kg/m3), they are graded as No.4, and oats under 36 lb/US bu (463 kg/m3) are graded as “light weight”.
In Canada, No.1 oats weigh 42.64 lb/US bu (549 kg/m3); No.2 oats must weigh 40.18 lb/US bu (517 kg/m3); No.3 oats must weigh at least 38.54 lb/US bu (496 kg/m3) and if oats are lighter than 36.08 lb/US bu (464 kg/m3) they do not make No.4 oats and have no grade.
Note, however, that oats are bought and sold, and yields are figured, on the basis of a bushel equal to 32 pounds (14.5 kg or 412 kg/m3) in the United States and a bushel equal to 34 pounds (15.4 kg or 438 kg/m3) in Canada. Yields range from 60 to 80 US bushels per acre (5.2–7.0 m3/ha) on marginal land, to 100 to 150 US bushels per acre (8.7–13.1 m3/ha) on high-producing land. The average production is 100 bushels per acre, or 3.5 tonnes per hectare.
Straw yields are variable, ranging from one to three tonnes per hectare, mainly due to available nutrients, and the variety used (some are short-strawed, meant specifically for straight combining).

 

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