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VII. BRIEF HISTORY OF BREAD

For centuries the staple food for China was (and is) rice, for the Americas it was corn and beans, and for the Mediterranean and mid-East regions it was wheat. In the early days of what was to become the United States, English colonists planted wheat in Jamestown, Virginia, but met with little success. They quickly changed to other crops such as corn, tobacco and cotton. Wheat was more of a hobby crop. George Washington grew wheat on his plantation and built a grist mill to process the wheat into flour.

Ancients

Ground wild grains between flat stones, mixed the flour with water to make a flat bread similar to tortillas or pita.

Eqyptians

The first to use yeast as a rising (leavening) agent as early as 4,000 BC. They developed a consistent process for grinding.

Greeks

Avid bakers who refined flours to eliminate impurities, and seasoned their breads with honey, seeds, nuts and fruits. They developed the stone oven for baking.

Romans

Introduced “bread” to all the lands they conquered.

VII. SCIENCE AND AGRICULTURE

Wheat is a grass that is grown all over the world. It is a staple food that is ground into flour for bread, cereals, cookies, cakes, and pasta. More foods are made with wheat that any other cereal grain. It all begins with farming:

  • Till (plow) the field.

  • Sow the seeds.

  • Water the plants.

  • Harvest the crop, usually in June.

  • Remove the stalk (straw) from the seed head

  • Thresh the wheat to separate the seeds from the chaff

  • Winnow to remove the seeds from the chaff

  • Grind the seeds into flour, but remember to save some seeds to plant next year

The wheat kernel or berry is the seed of the wheat plant. Each tiny seed has three parts: the endosperm, the bran, and the germ.

  • The endosperm is about 83% of the wheat kernel. It is used to make white flour. To make whole wheat flour you combine the endosperm with the bran and the germ.

  • The bran is the outer layers of the kernel and is also used in breakfast cereals.

  • The germ is tiny, it is the part that will sprout and grow into a new wheat plant if the seed is planted.

ELP Agriculture-Grist Mill

Page 3 of 6

Rev 8/08

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