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Algerian. Russia grows some of the finest macaroni wheats, chiefly known in France as Taganrog, because Taganrog is the principal point of export. Some of the wheats of Italy, the native land of macaroni, are second to none. One of the best varieties is Saragolla wheat. Even the common bread wheats have been quite extensively used, especially in the United States. Such wheat, however, does not produce a high grade macaroni, and this is one of the reasons why the quality of American macaroni has generally been below that of the imported product. Austria has also manufactured a low grade product from bread wheats. The Macaroni Industry had its birth in Naples, and before 1875 the Italian product had not yet been equaled in any other country. The Neapolitan manufacturers gained their fame on account of the excellent quality of the native wheat. The cultivation of this has long been neglected. In the main. the spread of the macaroni industry seems to have taken place during the last quarter of a century. It developed a great wheat growing industry in Algeria and Tunis. “Semolina’’ or “Semoule,” the coarse flour from which macaroni is manufactured, has become an article of commerce beyond mere local trade. Not only has the macaroni industry developed greatly in France and Italy during recent years, but also in the Levant and in many other foreign lands. In 1903 France produced about 330,000 pounds of pastes per day, onethird of which was exported, chiefly to the United States, but also to Austria, Germany and Belgium. Italian exports go principally to the South American nations, and to a limited extent to England and the United States. In Japan, macaroni is extensively manufactured and consumed. In the United States, the macaroni industry began with the use of bread wheats. I) uring 1900, it became established on a durum wheat basis in North Dakota. From 1896 to 1901, about 15 to 20 million pounds of macaroni, vermicelli and similar preparations were annually imported by the United States. These imports amounted to nearly 30,000,000 pounds and were valued at over $1,000,000 during the fiscal year of 1902-3. The very finest quality of Italian macaroni is rarely exported to America, because it retains its quality only a few months, “while the commonly exported article remains
good for a year.’” The high quality of the best Italian macaroni is doubtless largely due to the wheat from which it is made, but it may also be due to the action of bacteria. Process of Manufacture of Macaroni–In the manufacture of semolina, the wheat is first cleaned, which includes washing by water. Sometimes it is then dried, and moistened a second time. The water is considered essential to the cleaning, and it also aids in decortication. Special machinery has been devised for cleaning and dampening the wheat. It is milled in much the same way that soft wheat is ground into flour. In the best quality of semolina the resultant product is from 60 to 6.5 per cent of semolina, from 12 to 15 per cent of flour, and from 18 to 20 per cent of bran. Some of the lower grade wheats yield only from 30 to 40 per cent of semolina of an inferior quality. The miller's object is to get as much semolina and as little flour as possible. A special machine known as a ‘‘Sausseur’’ is used in grading the products. Semolina is not flour, but a much coarser product. As a rule, the manufacturers of macaroni do not grind their own wheat, but obtain their semolina from millers of that product. The semolina must be mixed in order to maintain a certain standard, the same as wheat is mixed in order to obtain a uniform flour. The product which goes into the macaroni should have from 45 to 50 per cent of gluten. Before mechanical methods came in vogue, macaroni was kneaded by means of a wooden pole, or by piling up the dough and treading it out with the feet, after which it was rolled with a heavy rolling pin. By having a fire under the vessel, it was partially baked while being reduced to tubes and strips. “Modern mechanical methods are simply enlargements of the old family process by which the housewife mixed flour and water, kneaded the batch, rolled it inte sheets, cut it into strips and hung it out to dry. In the modern factory the semolina is measured into a steel pan about 8 feet in diameter, within which travels a stone wheel. Water is added, the machine is put in motion, the wheel moves slowly around the pan, thus kneading the batch until it attains proper consistency. Just ahead of the wheel is set a small steel plow, to gather and turn over the mass,
so that it falls under the rim of the approaching wheel, thus guaranteeing an even kneading of the whole amount of semolina measured out.’’’ There are also other mechanical methods of mixing the dough. A small quantity of saffron is added to give a yellow color. After mixing, the dough is placed in a cylinder with a perforated bottom, through which the product is forced by means of a piston. The strings of paste are cut to the proper length as they issue, and are then thrown over reed poles to dry. In two hours they will dry sufficiently in sunlight, but if the weather is unfavorable longer time is required in sheltered terraces. When slightly dry, they are cellared in damp underground vaults for at least 12 hours. By this time the dough is moist and pliable again, and the poles are carried to storehouses which are open on all sides, but shaded from above. Here the strings hang from 8 to 20 days, according to the dryness of the weather. This gives them a horn-like toughness which prevents breaking from rough handling. In winter, the drying rooms are kept at a temperature of about 70° F. Thousands of reed poles bending under the weight of the yellow strings of macaroni cover the housetops, the courtyards, the narrow streets, and the hillsides of the little suburban towns about Naples. Mats spread upon the ground are covered with many kinds of short-shaped ‘‘pastas.” If the holes in the iron plate through which the dough is forced are very small, vermicelli is formed. A still smaller and finer sort is called fedelini. When the holes are larger and have a comical blade inserted, tube macaroni is formed. Paste rolled thin and cut in various shapes is called Italian paste. In producing the various kinds of pastes, there is a very slight difference in the amount of water needed. Vermicelli requires a little less than any other form. To meet competition and changes in public taste, eggs are kneaded into the paste, rice flour, corn flour and potato flour are introduced, and the juices of carrots, turnips, cauliflower and cabbage are mixed with the paste. So much is mixed with the semolina that the macaroni consists of wheat to the extent of only
* U. S. Dept. Agr., Bu. Plant Indus., Bul. 20, p. 25.
60 per cent. Our own homely dish of “noodles’’ can be traced back to a macaroni ancestry Crackers, Often Called Biscuits (bis cuit, twice baked), are a variety of unleavened bread. They find their way to almost every table in the land. They are usually made from soft wheat flour. “Milk, butter, lard, spices, dried fruits—anything or everything desired to give them particular consistency. color or flavor—is mixed with the flour and water.” The manufacture of crackers is a trade by itself, different from ordinary baking, and requiring machinery and processes peculiar to itself. As early as 1875, crackers were made by a rapid and continuous process. Machines mixed the flour and water, pressed the dough into a sheet, cut it and even fed the biscuits into an oven. A traveling stage carried them through the oven. The patent traveling ovens were 30 to 44 feet long, and fitted with endless webs of plates or chains. The chains were used for small fancy biscuits, and the plates for large and plain water biscuits. The rates at which biscuits of different sizes and degrees of richness traversed the length of the oven in order to bake varied from 5 to 40 minutes, and the temperature of the oven was modified to suit various qualities. Both the heat and rate of motion were “under easy and adequate” control." Crackers are rarely made in the home. Formerly they were placed upon the market in the bulk, but the package form of the trade has increased so greatly that some companies are rapidly doing away with the less profitable business of selling crackers in the bulk. About 50 different package biscuits are placed upon the market by one company. Perhaps the most interesting form of unleavened breads is the Passover bread, which has been used during Passover week by orthodox Jews from the time of Moses until now. It is not unlike the plain water cracker.
Ready-to-Eat Wheat Foods.-These foods are also known as breakfast foods. Their manufacture dates from 1895, and seems to be confined to the United States. The pioneer in this business was Henry D. Perky, who patented “Shredded Wheat Biscuit” in 1895. This product contains every portion of the wheat kernel. The whole wheat is cooked without being flavored, and then mechanically ground into filaments. It is formed into miniature loaves and baked. The distinctiveness of this food has always been retained and has never been successfully imitated. It stands in a class by itself and is in great favor with American consumers. The great development of the breakfast food industry has centered at Battle Creek, Michigan. John H. Kellogg patented “Cranose Flakes’’ in 1895. It consisted of the whole wheat. which was cooked, slightly slavored with salt, rolled into thin flakes, and baked. It was the first flaked wheat food that met with considerable sale. Charles W. Post began the manufacture of “Grape Nuts” in 1896. This product is made from wheat and barley ground together into flour, baked into bread, toasted, and finally crushed to granular form. The food is distinguished by its hardness, its amber color, and its large percentage of dextrine. The products “Malta Vita’’ and “Ready Bits” were the result of experiments conducted at Battle Creek in 1898. The former consisted of cleansed whole wheat seasoned with salt, and treated with malt extract for the predigestion of starches before it was finally baked. “Force,” brought out a few months later, was manufactured in a similar manner. “Ready Bits’’ was not perfected until 1903. “Its form is distinctive, consisting of readhering particles of disintegrated cooked wheat, from which the excess starch has been removed by the use of an enzyme.’’ All of these three foods attained national distribution. By 1903 at least 50 undistinctive brands of ready-to-serve wheat flakes were upon the market, and nearly all of them were made from whole wheat cooked, salted, rolled and baked. Their merit depended upon the quality of the material and the care and skill used in their preparation. Their success was proportional to the vigor and intelligence with which they were advertised. The total annual output of ready-to-serve wheat foods was estimated to have a value of $11,000,000. In 1903, 18,191 families were visited in a house-to-house canvass of the city of New Haven. Connecticut. Seventy-six per cent were found to be users of ready-to-eat cereal foods. The number of the families of the different nationalities who
1 In spite of many efforts, the writer was unable to secure any considerable data on any phase of the modern cracker industry. The business is largely monopolized by a few men rot affected by the recent wave of publicity. It is rumored that the profits of the business are too great to make publicity advisable.