Cereals can be boiled directly over the heat; steamed as in a double boiler; or cooked in a non-fired boiler. The first is the quickest method, but needs care in order to avoid sticking; and, even when stirring regularly, some sticking can occur. Since slower cooking improves the taste and softens the cellulose more thoroughly, it is advised to use either a double boiler or a fire-free cooker. There are two important secrets in cooking cereals that are; allowing enough water to swell and soften all the starch and cook it long enough to swell the starch and soften the cellulose such that the starch can be exposed to heat and water.
Cereals rich in starch and low in cellulose or bran absorb more water than cereals containing proportionately less starch and more cellulose or bran. In comparison, coarsely ground or unground cereals take more time to cook than finely ground cereals. These facts decide the process used for cooking. Refined cereal will need a proportionately greater volume of water than whole cereal, but it will take less time to cook; coarsely ground cereal will take longer than finely ground cereal. Careful cooking of cereals is important for two reasons: first, cellulose takes a lot of time to soften; and second, starch improves its flavor by cooking.
Amount of Water Needed in Cooking Different Cereals
Different people have different preferences on how to prepare their cereals. Some people want a thin cereal, almost a “gruel” others like a thicker cereal or a “mush,” while some prefer a thicker “porridge.” The following recommendations are only common. The instructions on the packets are safe to obey when cooking any uncooked or partially cooked cereal, so whether you choose a thicker or thinner product, it is easy to decide the amounts that better suit your family and make your own rules.
In general, though rolled cereals, such as rolled oats or rolled wheat, need around two parts of water for one cereal. For coarsely ground whole grain cereals and unground whole grains, about four parts of the water are needed for one part of the cereal. Although finely ground processed cereals need from five to six portions of water to one portion of cereal.
General Principles for Cooking Different Cereals
The same cooking methods are used for cooking most grains (except rice), cereals and pasta. The volume of water varies with various grains and production processes. Follow the instructions for the kit. In general, add the grain, cereal or pasta to the boiling water. Flavor is enhanced by keeping the cooked grains over mild, direct heat 5-10 minutes after the cooking time has finished. It can cause stickiness over stirring.
- Cooking time for cereals can be reduced by pouring boiling water over it and leaving it to soak for something like an hour before cooking.
- Adapt to altitude by adding more liquid and cooking longer. For instance, use 2 1/4 cups (rather than 2) of water for 1 cup of rice. Cook for 25 minutes or until the water is dried
- Prevent lumps of cereal by steadily applying cereal to steadily boiling water while stirring carefully.
- If the cereal particles are very fine, use the portion of the water needed and apply it cold to the cereal to distribute and isolate the particles. Then slowly add this mixture to the remaining boiling water, stirring carefully.
- Cook the cereal until it is soft and thickened.
- Prevent the surface from drying and settling by firmly covering the skin with the lid.