Could we live without porridges?

Remember all those stories from your childhood about porridge? Fairy tales about magical pots that made so much porridge, and about little girls who ate the porridge of families of bears. When we read these, what were we imagining exactly? Probably a simple dish of oats cooked in water or milk to form a mash and then served sweetened with fruit, honey, or sugar. This isn’t the whole story though; the word “porridge” offers us a whole lot more than just that.


What is porridge?

Porridge has been not only an important food in literature and fairy tales, but also as a traditional food in many places that is still enjoyed to this day. Porridges are made from the seeds harvested from various types of cereals (edible plants of the grass family such as barley, millet, wheat, rice, and corn). Generally though, we also include other foods into the category of “grain” even though they are not from the grass family; here we find buckwheat, amaranth, and quinoa. Since they are not in the grass family, these tasty seeds are known as pseudo-grains to better distinguish them from the true grains. Though the word porridge generally refers to oats cooked as described above, in reality it can mean any of these grains or pseudo-grains being cooked into a mash. Theoretically, the pulp of corn and rice grains are also porridges when not ground into flour, but we rarely use the terms in this way.

Porridge plays an important dietary role, containing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and lots of fibre in addition to proteins and carbohydrates. This dish is easy to prepare ands widely used. It can be used to start the day, be employed in soups or breads, or evcen find its way into salads and various side dishes.


Best known types of porridge.

For those of you who have been following our culinary adventures, you have been introduced to quite a few types of porridges already! For example, our eternally famous buckwheat porridge that keeps finding its way back to our table. Expect to see even more gracing our plates in future! But for now, let’s talk about the different types!

Buckwheat porridge is made from using the pseudo-grains of the buckwheat plant. We have already talked about two types before (ordinary and tartar buckwheat), so we already know two types of buckwheat porridge! We wrote about this in a recent soup recipe. Buckwheat can be enjoyed in both salty and sweet dishes, such as soups or after being prepared like a risotto.

Barley porridge, likewise, involves the grains of barley being cooked up into a porridge of sorts. Barley porridge can make an excellent addition to a summery salad with zesty, juicy vegetables like peppers and cucumber, or can be a great way of thickening up a heart winter soup! For the more devoted, a similar mash of barley can be used in the process of making beer.

To finally get to our classic notion of porridge, oatmeal is formed of ground oats. These grains are often flattened between metal rollers before they come into our kitchens (and bellies!). These pressed oats are what is known as oatmeal, and was originally enjoyed in Switzerland, while in Germany it was known as müsli, which has today been adopted into English for raw oats (often mixed with nuts and dried fruit) served cold in a liquid (often milk).

Millet is quite unlike barley and oats, being much smaller and rounder. Any of you with pet birds are surely familiar with their fondness for this tasty treat. Though it is not eaten by humans in most regions as much as in the past, future droughts caused by climate change may cause us to see more and more of this on our plate as it can thrive in drier conditions than its other yummy relatives.

To get even more obscure, we can also talk about spelt porridge. Spelt was one of the earliest cultivated grains, and the ancient Greeks viewed it as being a gift from the goddess of agriculture, Demeter. Like wheat, this grain contains gluten, making it unsuitable for those with celiac disease. It is also rich in vitamins B and E. Lately, more and more spelt products are finding their ways to the market, with roasted grains being used as a coffee substitute with a pleasant and refreshing taste, for example.

To compare the nutrient content of different cereals (and pseudo-grains!) you can take a look at our table here.

 

In 100g of porridge

Buckwheet

Millet

Barley

Oats

Quinoa

Energy

kcal

343

378

354

389

368

Proteins

g

13,25

11,02

12,48

16,89

14,12

Total fats

g

3,4

4,22

2,3

6,9

6,07

Carbohydrates

g

71,5

72,85

73,48

66,27

64,16

Starch

g

52,22

Sugar

g

0,8

Fibers

g

10

8,5

17,3

10,6

7

Calcium (Ca)

mg

18

8

33

54

47

Iron (Fe)

mg

2,2

3,01

3,6

4,72

4,57

Magnesium (Mg)

mg

231

114

133

177

197

Phosphorus (P)

mg

347

285

264

523

457

Potassium (K)

mg

460

195

452

429

563

Sodium (Na)

mg

1

5

12

2

5

Zinc (Zn)

mg

2,4

1,68

2,77

3,97

3,1

Copper (Cu)

mg

1,1

0,75

0

1

0,59

Manganese (Mn)

mg

1,3

2

2

5

2

Selenium (Se)

µg

8,3

2,7

37,7

8,5

Vitamin A

µg

0

0

1

0

1

Vitamin E

mg

0,05

0,57

2,44

Vitamin D

µg

0

0

0

0

0

Vitamin C

mg

0

0

0

0

Thiamin (B1)

mg

0

0

1

1

0,36

Riboflavin (B2)

mg

0

0,29

0

0

0

Niacin (B3)

mg

7,02

4,72

5

1

1,52

Pantothenic acid (B5)

mg

1

1

0

1

1

Vitamin B6

mg

0,21

0

0

0

0

Folic acid (B9)

µg

30

85

19

56

184

Vitamin B12

µg

0

0

0

0

0

Vitamin K

µg

0,9

2,2

0

 

Have a nice day!

Hungry Pumpkin team

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