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CEREALS AND GRAINS

Ears of wheat Listed below are some cereal products used in Finnish cooking and in the recipes of this site.

You will find information about different flour types and a picture showing the basic structure of cereal grain here.

See also:



Rice, short grain
(Oryza sativa)

Short grain rice

The grains of short or round grain rice are round and plump. The high starch content makes short grain rice sticky when cooked.

In Finland, short grain rice is mostly used in cooking velvety rice porridge especially popular at Christmas time, but rice is also used as side dish replacing potatoes or pasta, or in making casseroles, risottos, pastry fillings, desserts or Chinese and Japanese dishes, like sushi.

The rice brand Risella sold in Finland is especially suitable for cooking both rice porridge and sushi rice.

 
Rice, long grain
(Oryza sativa)

Basmati rice

The grains of long grain rice are thinner and longer than short grain rice (see left) and they remain separate when cooked.

In Finland, long grain rice is mostly used as a side dish replacing potatoes or pasta, or in making casseroles, risottos, pastry fillings, desserts or Asian, Indian and African ethnic dishes. Also perfumed rice varieties like basmati or jasmine rice are popular.


Rolled oats
(Avena sativa)

Rolled oats

Rolled oats are made of whole or cut oat groats that are pre-cooked and rolled to shorten the cooking time.

Rolled oats can be used in bread doughs, sweet or savoury pies and pastries, cookies, porridges, various desserts and muesli.

Use regular-type, "old-fashioned" rolled oats in the recipes of this site. All kinds of "instant" rolled oats varieties with their almost powdery consistency are not suitable substitutes and must not be used.

Rye flakes
(Secale cereale)

Rye flakes

Similar to rolled oats, rye flakes are made of cut rye groats that are pre-cooked and rolled to shorten the cooking time.

Rye flakes are mainly used to make porridges, but they can also be used in bread doughs, sweet or savoury pies and pastries and muesli.


Barley
(Hordeum vulgare)

Barley

Hulled whole-grain barley can be used in risottos, pastry fillings and porridges or served as a side dish replacing cooked rice.

Barley takes longer time to cook than rice. That is why it is usually used cracked. Whole-grain barley is also available pre-cooked to shorten the cooking time.

Buckwheat
(Fagopyrum esculentum)

Buckwheat

Roasted whole-grain buckwheat is mainly used to make special Russian buckwheat porridge, гречневая каша рассыпчатая ( grechnevaia kasha rassypchataia). The type of buckwheat groats used should result in a fluffy porridge, where the individual grains remain whole and separate.

It is best to look and ask for the right type of buckwheat in Russian or Eastern European speciality stores.


Wheat semolina
(Triticum aestivum)

Wheat semolina

Wheat semolina is the granules of coarsely ground hard wheat cereals. Depending of its coarseness, semolina is used to make pasta, tabbouleh, puddings, cakes, various desserts, polenta, porridge etc.

Semolina granules are milled from the endosperm part of the wheat grain. In Finland they are mainly used to make porridges, gruels and desserts, or to flour buttered cake pans. This kind of semolina may also be called cream of wheat, farina or manna groats.

Couscous
(Triticum aestivum)

Couscous

Couscous is made from wheat semolina mixed with flour, sprinkled with water and rolled into small granules. Couscous grains are cooked by steaming or by soaking them in warm water or stock, until the liquid has been absorbed into the grains.

Like rice or barley, couscous is served to accompany numerous vegetable, fish and meat dishes. It is also mixed in salads and used in sweet desserts.


Cornmeal
(Zea mays)

Yellow cornmeal

Cornmeal is granular flour obtained from dried corn kernels. To improve the keeping qualities, the fatty germ is removed from the kernels before milling. Cornmeal is usually coarsely ground, the size of the granules varying from fine to coarse. Depending on the degree of coarseness, cornmeal gives foods a slightly crunchy texture.

Cornmeal may be used to make polenta porridge and cornbreads and it is added to various unleavened breads, muffins, cookies etc. There is also white and blue cornmeal available, although they may be hard to find in Finland.

Wild rice
(Zizania aquatica)

Wild rice

Unrelated to rice (Oryza sativa), wild rice is the seed of an aquatic plant native to North America.

Deeply nutty flavoured wild rice grains are cooked similarly to other types of rice. They can be served to accompany various meat, game and seafood dishes, either on their own or mixed with regular white rice.

Heated in hot oil, wild rice grains may be popped like maize kernels (popcorn).


Bran
Wheat bran
Wheat bran
Oat bran
Oat bran

Bran is the fibrous layer coating the endosperm of cereal grains. It is separated from the grain during milling process. Various bran types contain dietary fibres, like cellulose, lignin or beta-glucan, which promote and regulate gastrointestinal functions.

Water-insoluble dietary fibre is not digested nor absorbed by the digestive tract, but passes through it largely intact. It should never be eaten plain, but mixed in food, otherwise it may cause an intestinal blockage. According to recent studies, insoluble fibres reduce the risk of certain cancers.

Water-soluble dietary fibre forms a soft, gel-like texture when mixed with liquids in the digestive tract and breaks down when it reaches the large intestine. It has been associated with lowering blood cholesterol and controlling blood sugar.

Wheat bran is very rich in insoluble fibre and has a high protein, vitamin and mineral content. It can be added to bread and other doughs or used in making muesli, porridges etc.

Also rye bran and oat bran are used the same way as wheat bran. Oat bran contains soluble fibre and rye bran contains both soluble and insoluble fibres. Oat bran also contains other parts of the oat kernel beside the bran layer.


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