The grains or cereals are the main dependence of the human race for food and have been known from very early times. Some member of this family of plants is found in every section of the world. Rice, wheat and corn are most largely used as food, while oats, rye, barley, and millet follow closely. Animals can eat these grains or grasses as they grow. For the human stomach the coarser portions must be removed. All are similar in composition, being from two-thirds to three-fourths starch. The protein ranges from 7 to 15 per cent; fat varies from 1 to 10 per cent; there is about 1 per cent mineral matter and 10 to 12 per cent of water.

Before we can eat and digest such foods a large amount of water must be combined with them. Analyses have shown that the percentage of water in mushes, boiled rice, macaroni, and mashed potato is nearly the same.

When we buy cereals in paper packages we pay a little more for them than when they are bought in bulk, but that is a convenient, clean form in which to keep them. All cereals should be looked over before cooking since they are liable to attacks from insects.

To make mushes start with the desired proportion of liquid, as that regulates the final amount. If too much water is used it can seldom be drained off, as it might be from potatoes, and if there is too little at the beginning it is practically impossible to add more without making the mush lumpy and pasty. A double boiler, a dish set in a steamer or a covered pail in a kettle of water, are the utensils suitable for cooking mushes.


The coarser the grain, the more water required, and the longer will be the time of cooking. Whole grains are improved by soaking in cold water, finely ground preparations must be mixed with cold water to prevent the formation of lumps. All others should be put into boiling water. Add one teaspoonful of salt to each quart of water. Ordinary oatmeal and granulated wheat need four times their bulk of water, cracked wheat and hominy require more. The rolled grains require but twice their bulk of water.

The cooking at first should be rapid and the upper part of the double boiler should be placed directly on the stove for five minutes. Then put it over the other part, cook closely covered and do not stir. Such foods are not injured by cooking for a longer time than the usual directions allow. Coarse hominy, oatmeal, or cracked wheat for breakfast should be cooked several hours the previous day.

Rice may be boiled in a quantity of water which is afterwards drained off, but this is wasteful unless some use is made of the liquid.

Macaroni and tapioca are not strictly cereals but conform to the same rules of cooking.

Most mushes or cooked cereals may be moulded and served cold for variety, especially in warm weather, or be packed smoothly in oblong pans or round tin boxes and when cold sliced and fried to serve with syrups or to eat with meats.

Cooking Cereals


Fried Mush

A portion of cooked cereal may be added to the liquid used in mixing muffins.

Manufacturers of the present day seem to be trying to see in how many different forms they can prepare the few standard grains; they are left whole, are cracked, are crushed into flakes, or broken into granules. As the result of this variety of preparations and the generous way in which they are advertised cereals are used more and more.

A Cup of Corn Meal, and the Amount of Mush It Will Make

A Cup of Corn Meal, and the Amount of Mush It Will Make

During the last few years they have been cooked in the factories and prepared in forms ready for immediate use. These forms have many merits though not all that are claimed for them. In some respects they resemble the primitive forms of unleavened bread which were the first attempts among all races, the bannock, the hoe cake, the tortilla.

Cereals shaped in fancy Moulds

Cereals shaped in fancy Moulds

"Ready to Eat'-Cereals