Cereal Breakfast Foods

A. Class Experiment.

The Relation Of Surface To Evaporation

1. Put equal amounts of water into two saucepans, one much larger than the other, and heat both the same length of time, until the water in one is about half gone. Cool and measure roughly the amount of water left in each. To what, besides time, is the rate of evaporation proportional? Would you increase or decrease the amount of water to be used in cooking a small amount of cereal in a large pan?

2. Repeat the experiment, but with the saucepans closely covered. Is there any difference? Explain the result.

B. Prepare Cereal with Fruit.

1. Add gradually two tablespoons of wheatena to a cup and a quarter of actively boiling water, to which one-sixth of a teaspoon of salt has been added. After ten minutes cooking over the direct flame, finish over hot water. This will probably take thirty minutes. A few moments before the cereal is done, add the meat of five dates cut very fine. Serve with sugar and cream.

Composition of Cereals

Composition of Cereals.

2. Repeat (1) to the point where the cereal has been cooked over the direct flame, but use only five-sixths of a cup of water. Then, instead of finishing over water, place it in a fireless cooker or hay box.

C. Class Experiments. Cereals.

1. Test cereals for both starch and protein.

2. Examine rice- and oat-starch under the micro-scope. Notice size, shape, and any apparent markings.

Cereal Breakfast Foods

Cereals are cultivated grasses, but the seeds of these grasses are often called cereals. Sometimes, the term includes all products of cereals such as flour and macaroni as well as the grains themselves. Common usage, however, often makes the word cereal synonymous with break-fast food. The seeds of the cultivated grasses are the part of the plant used, because they are packed with nutriment for the embryo. The grains commonly used for breakfast-food are wheat, oats, corn, rice, and, occasionally, barley. Rice contains a larger amount of starch than the others, but little fiber, and it is on this account easily digested. Of the three grains most commonly used for breakfast foods, wheat, oats, and corn, oats furnishes most protein and fat, and has the highest calorie value * per pound. Wheat, however, does not differ very greatly in nutritive value and contains less fiber and so is more easily digested. Corn has a very tough fiber and ranks below the other two in calorie value. All these differences are comparatively small, and we can rank cereals together in their place in the diet, with the following average composition:

* The calorie value of a food is the amount of energy, meas-ured in calories, which a given food furnishes to the body.


Protein ........



Mineral Matter......

10-12 per cent.

10-12 per cent.

65-75 per cent.

2-8 per cent.

2 per cent.

These figures are for the raw grains. Mushes and porridge contain a great deal of water. Cooked oatmeal contains nearly eighty-five per cent of water, but shredded wheat and the flaked breakfast foods have practically the same composition as the original grains.

The cost of breakfast foods varies somewhat with the cereal from which they are made, the cost of those made from corn being least, those from oats next, while wheat is the most expensive. Cost, however, differs even more with the amount of preparation that has already been made. From this point of view, breakfast foods may be divided into four classes. In the first are foods like oatmeal or cracked wheat in which the grain has been husked but not cooked. Next, comes the class of partially cooked foods. These have been steamed until they are somewhat softened and then, if they are to be put on the market as flakes, they are passed between hot rollers which flatten the kernels. Rolled oats is an example of this class. The third class is composed of those which are sold ready to eat, as grape nuts or shredded wheat. Sometimes malt is used in the process of manufacture and is supposed to change the starch into sugar and so start the process of digestion. In most breakfast foods which are malted, not much change in the starch will be found to have occurred, and since, for the healthy person, it is of little moment whether this change has occurred or not, this fourth class, called predigested, is not of great importance. Breakfast foods which belong to the third class cost much more per pound than those in the first class, because more trouble has been taken in the preparation. The advantage to the housewife is in the saving of time necessary to prepare the food. Foods of the first class need to be cooked many hours in order to render them thoroughly digestible. This is more or less trouble even on a coal or wood stove, and on a gas stove is an expensive process. Cereals can, however, be easily and cheaply prepared in a fireless cooker, and if both cost and attention are to be considered, this is the method of preparation which should be chosen. The foods of the second class need, usually, to be cooked about twice as long as the time given on the package. The manufacturer, in order to attract custom, cuts the necessary time of preparation down to a minimum.

Many of the breakfast foods may be purchased both in bulk and package. The advantage of the package is greater surety of cleanliness. Most of the milling is carried on under excellent sanitary conditions. The package assures us that the goods have come to us in the same condition as that in which they left the mill. Bulk goods are often protected neither from dust nor insects. As, however, the uncooked cereals sold in bulk are thoroughly sterilized in cooking, this protection is far less necessary than in the case of such foods as bread, which is eaten as bought.

Since cereals do not keep well, it is better to buy them only in moderate amounts. There is often considerable saving, however, in buying even two packages instead of one.


U. S. Dept. of Agriculture.

Farmers' Bulletin No. 105. "Cereal Breakfast Foods."

Farmers' Bulletin No. 237. "Cereal Breakfast Foods."

Farmers' Bulletin No. 249. "Cereal Breakfast Foods."

Farmers' Bulletin No. 316. "Cooking Cereal Foods."

Farmers' Bulletin No. 298. "The Fireless Cooker."

The Exp. Station Bulletin No. 200. " Course in Cereal Foods."


1. Make a list of all the kinds of grain you know.

2. How does the English use of the word "corn" differ from the American ?

3. Give illustrations of the different groups of breakfast foods on the market.

a. Uncooked grains.

b. Partly cooked.

c. Ready to eat.

d. Predigested.

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different groups ?

5. Is the greater cost of package foods justified?

6. Why is it well to keep cereals in glass jars tightly covered ?

7. Why are cereals so important as food ?

8. How can the "skin" which sometimes forms on top of a cereal while it is cooking be prevented ?

9. Why will soaking the grains for an hour or so beforehand shorten the needed time for cooking ?

10. What are the advantages of using a fireless cooker in preparing cereals ?