Hot Cereals

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Hot cereals have been eaten since the dawn of civilization in the form of gruels, porridges, and congees. Corn grits, oatmeal, and cream of wheat are modern examples. Cooking the whole or milled cereal in excess of hot water softens the cell walls, gelates the starch grains and leaches starch molecules out, and produces a digestible, bland mush. The only significant improvement brought by the machine age has been a reduction in cooking time, either by grinding the cereal finely enough that it’s quickly cooked, or by partly precooking it.