Two of the important secrets in cooking cereals so that they are acceptable are:

1. To allow enough water to swell and soften all the starch.

2. To cook them long enough to swell the starch and soften the cellulose present so that the starch may be exposed to the action of heat and water.

Cereals high in starch and low in cellulose or bran absorb more water than do cereals containing proportionately less starch and more cellulose or bran. Also, coarsely ground or unground cereals require more time to cook than the finely ground ones. These facts determine the method used in cooking. A refined cereal will require a proportionately larger amount of water than a whole cereal, though it will require less time in the cooking; a coarsely ground cereal will require longer time than a finely ground cereal.

Thorough cooking of cereals is necessary for two reasons: first, cellulose requires plenty of time to soften; and second, starch gains in flavor by cooking.

Methods of Cooking - Cereals may be boiled directly over the heat; steamed, as in a double boiler; or cooked in a fireless cooker. The first is the quickest process but requires attention in order to prevent sticking; and, even when stirred frequently, some sticking may occur. Since the slower cooking develops the flavor and more thoroughly softens the cellulose, the use of either double boiler or fireless cooker is recommended.

Amount of Water Needed - Tastes differ greatly concerning consistency of cereals. Some persons like a thin cereal, almost a "gruel"; others prefer a thicker product, or "mush," while still others choose a thick "porridge." The following suggestions are only general. The directions on the packages are safe to follow in cooking any uncooked or partly cooked cereal, then if a thicker or thinner product is desired it is easy to determine the proportions that best suit the family and make your own rules.

In General:

1. Rolled cereals, such as rolled oats or rolled wheat, require about two parts of water to one of cereal.

2. Coarsely ground cereals from the whole grain, and unground whole grains require about four parts of water to one of cereal.

3. Finely ground refined cereals require from five to six parts of water to one of cereal.

Where directions are lacking for any cereal bought in bulk, the following table will serve as a fair guide.