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food & wine dictionary
Food and Wine Dictionary
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West Indian pumpkin
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Thought to have been growing since Paleolithic times and cultivated for at least 6,000 years, wheat is the world's largest
-grass crop. Its status as a staple is second only to rice. One reason for its popularity is that unlike other cereals wheat contains a relatively high amount of
, the protein that provides the elasticity necessary for excellent breadmaking. Though there are over 30,000 varieties of wheat, the three major types are hard wheat, soft wheat and durum wheat.
is high in protein (10 to 14 percent) and yields a flour rich in gluten, making it particularly suitable for
. The low-protein (6 to 10 percent)
yields a flour lower in gluten and therefore better suited for tender baked goods such as biscuits and cakes.
, although high in gluten, is not good for baking. Instead, it's most often ground into
, the basis for excellent pasta. In the United States, wheat is also classified according to the time of year it is sown namely,
(which is actually sown in the fall). The unprocessed wheat kernel, commonly known as a
, is made up of three major portions
, germ and endosperm.
, the rough outer covering, has very little nutritional value but plenty of fiber. During milling, the bran is removed from the kernel. It's sold separately and used to add flavor and fiber to baked goods.
, essentially the embryo of the berry, is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals and protein. It has a nutty flavor and is very oily, which causes it to turn rancid quickly. Wheat germ is sold in both toasted and natural forms and is used to add nutrition to a variety of foods.
Wheat germ oil
, an extraction of the germ, is strongly flavored and expensive. The
, which makes up the majority of the kernel, is full of starch, protein, niacin and iron. It's the primary source of many wheat flours. In addition to flour, wheat is available in several other forms including wheat berries, cracked wheat and
are whole, unprocessed kernels, whereas
is the whole berry broken into coarse, medium and fine fragments. Both are sold in health-food stores and may be cooked as cereal, or in
, breads or other dishes.
Material adapted from the
The New Food Lover's Companion
© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.
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