The way to cook Cereals

By DavidPruitt989 on January 22, 2011 In Cooking Tips

Boiling your cereals
Usually the idea is to put the cereals on to cook and once they’re simmering away they can be left. In practice however this doesn’t tend ot be the case – often they require a lot of watching, stirring and even when carefully observes there’s a tendency for them to stick to utensils, the side of the dish and to be burned on the bottom of the of the pan. Also they can lose their colour and flavour by constant stirring.

You can mitigate these problems somewhat by adding loads of water but this has to be poured away after cooking and soluble parts of the cereal are lost to the water. Another alternative is washing the cereal before cooking but this is equaly time consuming and has the same problems.

Using a ‘double boiler’
Commonly also called dry steaming this is often the best way of cooking your cereals. They are cooked thoroughly but only ever come withing about 5 degrees of the boiling point. The arrangement is thus:
The cereal is put in the upper smaller part of the double boiler, and this smaller pan is placed inside another which contains boiling water. There”s nothing else to do, the cereal is allowed to cook in this arrangement. The pan holding the water does have a tendency to boil dry so that must be replenished from time to time, but that’s all the watching that’s needed. If the pan is allowed to boild dry the cereal will be burned so ensure it doesn’t happen!

Apart from avoiding many of the annoyances associated with boiling cereal discussed earlier, there are other benefits to this method. Cereals can be partially cooked and finished off later just prior to serving. The flavour is also improved due to slowly cooking below the boiling point instead of being cooked quickly at the boiling point. The ubiquity of this method is to blame for the belief that cereals are bland.

Using the fireless cooker
This makes takes time but is very fuel efficient and very useful particularly in poor countries where resources need to be conserved and expensive fuel burning should be avoided when possible. The fireless cooker works by preserving the heat already in pans or dished placed in it. By heating the cereal in a pan prior to adding it to the fireless cooker the heat already in the pan will then cook the cereal overnight or from the morning to evening. It takes a long time but it doesn’t need any more labour or effort. A bit of planning is rewarded with a cheap and easy method of cooking.

Dry heat cooking
Otherwise known as toasting, this old method has been around a long time. It works by spreading the grains in a thin layer in the bottom of the pan and placing them in an oven on a low heat. When the grains are browned they are shaken and replaced, until eventually they are cooked evenly all over.

The main advantages of this appraoch are the improved flavour of the cereal brought about by the toasting. Of course they are made edible, but they are also effectively preserved for a long time with this method which makes it suitable for storaing cereals for later use.

Using water to cook cereals
Apart from toasting cereals are almost alawys cooked with water in some regard. It avries though depending on the cereals and the way it’s prepared. The coursers the cereal is ground the more water is required to cook it. It hard to repair a mistake made with the consistency of cereals once cooked so attention should be paid before cooking. If the method requires the water to be absorbed into the cereal then getting the proportion right is key – while the cereal should be mushy it should not pour like a liquid. If it’s too thick it’ll become lumpy when water is added to it, and excessively thin mixtures must be boiled to remove unwanted liquid.

An exception to this is a gruel mixture, created by sieving a mixture produced by boiling cereal very quickly in lots of water. The starchy parts of the cereal are disintegrated and the grain breaks up rapidly and dissolves into the water. The result is a thin water that can be poured.

Time is the other variable, and the courser a grain is the more time it needs to cook. There’s no rule of thumb that can be given here because there are so many varieties of grain. However there is a very handy rule of thumb about identifying when a cereal is properly cooked. They can be crushed between thumb and forefinger easily, but before they are mushy and no longer retain their shape. Using that as a basis wth experience you should build up a good idea of the time your favourite cereals take to cook.

David Pruitt is an amateur cooking enthusiast and steak lover. He gives his opinions regularly at American Fridge Freezers, Whirlpool American Fridge Freezers.