Small grains or winter cereals are defined as oats, wheat, barley, rye, durum wheat and triticale. This article will cover some of the processing options available for these grains.

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Oats

Oats

Rolled oats is the main end product of any oat processing plant. It is produced by flattening groats (de-hulled oats) between rollers under high pressure. The groats may be cut prior to rolling to achieve rolled end products of varying thickness. Rolled oats is consumed as a hot breakfast cereal that requires cooking.

  • Oat flour is the milled flour product from hulled oats and is used in baked products, granola bars and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. It is especially valuable in infant foods due to the high nutritional value and low allergenicity and pleasant flavour. It is widely used as one of the first solid foods introduced to babies or as thickener in various commercial infant products.
  • Wheat

    • Baked bread is produced from wheat flour, salt and water that is mixed to form a dough. The dough is aerated with carbon dioxide that is produced by yeast fermentation or other chemical means. Various commercial methods can be used to bake bread. These processes differ principally according to the way in which the dough is developed: biologically, by yeast fermentation; mechanically, by intense mixing and use of oxidising agents; or chemically, by using reducing and oxidising agents.
    • Partly baked bread and rolls are used in hot bread shops, in-store bakeries, catering establishments and sold direct to the consumer who then bake it prior to consumption. The part-baked product can be frozen or sold direct as is, but the unfrozen product has a limited shelf life.
    • Extruded wheat flakes are consumed as a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal that only requires the addition of milk. It is made from wheat grits that are cooked and shaped by an extruder before being rolled into flakes.
    • Fresh noodles: Noodles are thin strips of pasta made from ordinary wheat flour and not from semolina such as other pasta products. The final (fresh) product has a moisture content of 32% while the dried product has a moisture content of 8-10%.
    • Traditional process pasta: Pasta is the collective term used to describe products such as macaroni, spaghetti, vermicelli, etc. which are made from semolina milled from hard durum wheat. Pasta is formed from unleavened dough. The final (fresh) product has a moisture content of 30% while the dried product has a moisture content of 12%.
    • Modern process pasta: The modern process of manufacturing pasta makes use of special extruders. This is a more efficient and less time-consuming process than the traditional. The product exiting the extruder has a lower moisture content and therefore requires a shorter drying time.
    Wheat
  • Pre-cooked pasta is pre-cooked in the extruder until the starch is completely gelatinised. The final product only requires heating before consumption. It is packed and stored under refrigerated conditions, with or without a sauce or flavouring.
  • Quick-cooking pasta is pre-cooked in the extruder and further cooked in microwave ovens prior to drying. The final product only requires a few minutes (4-8 minutes) of cooking to re-hydrate completely. It is thus considered as a convenience product.
  • Wheat crackers: These biscuits are snacks that are enjoyed together with dips, sauces and spreads. Traditionally a dough is prepared, rolled, cut and baked. The dough mixing and forming steps have largely been taken over by extruders that add greater variety of shape, texture and flavour to the products. The most popular form is flat and square.
  • Wheat flakes is a ready-to-eat breakfast cereal that only requires the addition of milk. It is made from whole-wheat grains. The basic objective is to process the grain in such a way that each kernel would produce a flake. Grain selection is thus a very important factor that influences the finished character of the cereal.
  • Wheat flour is the product obtained from the milling of cleaned wheat to which no wheaten bran, wheaten germ or wheaten semolina has been added.
  • Barley

    Barley malt

    Brewer’s malt: Malting is the process whereby grains are allowed to germinate up to a point by soaking them in water. Once the desired stage of germination is reached, the germination process is halted by drying the grain with hot air. Malting develops the enzymes needed to convert the starches in the grain into various types of sugar. Malted grain is used in the making of a number of products ranging from beer, whisky and malt vinegar to confections such as Maltesers and flavoured drinks such as Milo.

    Rye

    Rye

    Rye is a cereal crop used as a food crop as well as an animal feed, in ways similar to wheat and barley. It is used to produce rye flour, which is a flour high in gliadin but low in glutenin, as well as a number of rye breads: Mannheim-process rye bread, Berlin-process rye bread and Detmold-process rye bread. – Theresa Siebert, ARC-Institute for Agricultural Engineering

    The manuals on the Agro-Processing of Cereal Crops Vol 1-3 contains complete information on the products discussed above as well as many other processing methods and products. The manual is available from the ARC-Institute for Agricultural Engineering. Contact Elmarie Stoltz on 012 842 4017 or stoltze@arc.agric.za.