Grains & Rice

 

Cereal crops such as wheat, maize, rice and barley are grasses that are cultivated for their edible grains or seeds. They are grown in greater quantities worldwide and provide more food energy to the human race than any other type of crop. Grains are low in fat, high in protein, rich in nutrients, and are among the most versatile food items available.

The word 'corn' is used in the UK to describe all grain crops; however, the same word is used in the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia to describe maize, a traditional food in North America, South America and Africa. The primary grain crop in temperate regions is wheat, whilst the primary cereal of tropical regions is rice. These three grains (maize, wheat and rice) are so important that they account for 87% of the worldwide grain production. Other important cereals include barley and rye, which are grown in areas too cold for wheat; millet and sorghum, which are an important source of food in Asia and Africa; buckwheat, cultivated in Europe and Asia; and quinoa, an ancient crop grown in the Andes.

Grains form the staple food of most cultures, and are used as the basis of many traditional dishes. Most grains may be eaten whole or split to be served as a side dish or added to other recipes, or they may be ground into flour to make breads, cakes, pasta and puddings. In Italy, maize is ground to make polenta, whilst in North Africa, semolina (made from wheat flour) is rolled into pellets to create couscous. Many nations use cereals to make porridges; for example, in Scotland they use oats, whilst in Russia they use buckwheat to create a porridge known as kasha. Some grains may also be cooked with milk to create creamy puddings, such as tapioca, sago and rice pudding.

In this section, you'll find information on the major cereals cultivated for food across the world.

Barley
Pearl and Scotch barley, used for making beer and whisky, and for adding to soups, stews and casseroles ...
Buckwheat
A dark, nutty seed, used to make soba noodles, kasha and blinis ...
Maize (Corn)
A look at the cereal that is used to make cornflour, grits and popcorn ...
Millet
A gluten-free grain that may be eaten as a cereal, cooked as side dish or ground into flour ...
Oats
A highly nutritious grain, generally eaten as oat bran, oatmeal and rolled oats ...
Quinoa
A South American seed, highly prized for its nutritional qualities ...
Rice
A look at the world's most important crop, including a guide to rice varieties, such as basmati, jasmine, patna, arborio, carnaroli and wild rice ...
Rye
A distinctively flavoured grain particularly popular in Scandinavia and Northern Europe for making crispbreads, beer and pumpernickel ...
Sago
A starch formed from the stem of the sago palm, and produced as a ground flour or as pellets ...
Sorghum
Similar to millet, this gluten-free grain may be cooked and served in the same way as rice, or ground to make flour for chapattis ...
Spelt
One of the original, natural grains known to man, spelt is high in nutrients and in taste ...
Tapioca
A starchy ingredient formed from the roots of cassava ...
Wheat
Britain's most important grain crop, used to produce food such as couscous, bulghur, semolina, bran and a whole range of different flours for cooking and baking ...