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Cream of Wheat

Cream of Wheat® is the brand name of a farina-based cereal. It is owned by Nabisco and Kraft.

It is mixed with water and milk, then cooked up to eat. It will have a texture finer than grits.

It is not pure farina, but it is mostly farina.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) refers to it as an "instant farina wheat cereal", made from wheat whose bran and germ has been substantially removed. The branded cereal may contain added sodium, thickeners, emulsifiers, preservatives and flavours.

Note that it is not a whole-grain cereal -- "wheat whose bran and germ" have been removed.

The closest thing in the UK is actually pure Farina.

Kraft makes many different kinds, some quicker cooking, some flavoured, some enriched with wheat germ.

Some smaller producers are now making a whole-grain cereal labelled "Cream of Wheat." It's not clear if they are actually allowed to use that wording.

Fans will cook up extra on purpose, packing the extra in loaf-shaped dishes and letting it set in the fridge overnight, then frying slices up the next morning for breakfast.

It also has its detractors; some call it "wall-paper paste."

To cook up Cream of Wheat, you mix it with a liquid (water or milk) in a ratio of about 5 parts liquid to 1 part cereal. Compare this to the ratio for cooking pure farina, 4 parts liquid to 1 part farina. Cream of Wheat needs more liquid owing to other things added to the cereal.

Cooking Tips

The liquid used, usually water, should be boiling.
1 serving2 servings3 servings
Water or milk 1 1/4 cups2 cups4 cups
Cream of Wheat3 tbsp1/3 cup3/4 cup
Salt (optional) 1/8 tsp1/4 tsp1/2 tsp

When making it in a pot on top the stove, pour Cream of Wheat cereal into the boiling water in a steady, slow stream, stirring all the while. Keep stirring until thickened enough to serve, which will take about 2 minutes.

In a microwave, mix all ingredients first. Zap for 1 minute, stir. Zap for up to another 2 minutes, stirring every half minute.

You can use Cream of Wheat in making many other things, such as dumplings, pancakes, etc.

History Notes

Cream of Wheat was invented as a commercial product by Thomas S. Amidon, head miller at Diamond Mill in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He persuaded the owners in the mid 1890s that they should sell a product based on farina that they could sell as a porridge. They called it "Cream of Wheat" because it was so white.

Production was moved to Minneapolis in 1897. It was bought by Nabisco in 1961, and then later became part of the line up of Kraft products in 2000.

Cream of Wheat first took 15 minutes to cook up. By 1939, the cooking time had been reduced to 5 minutes; By 1997, it had been reduced to 2 1/2 minutes.

Literature & Lore

Some controversy continues about the box. it continues to feature a picture of a black man cooking Cream of Wheat. Some feel it is racist. The man has been on the box since the very first box sold. Kraft insists that they maintain the image because it is respectful. The name of the cook depicted is, apparently, Rastus.


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