Popped corn forms an excellent food, the starch of the grain being will cooked. It should, however, be eaten in connection with other food at mealtime, and not as a delicacy between meals. Ground pop corn is considered a delectable dish eaten with milk or cream; it also forms the base of several excellent puddings.
To pop the corn, shell and place in a wire “popper” over a bed of bright coals, or on the top of a hot stove; stir or shake continuously, so that each kernel may be subjected to the same degree of heat on all sides, until it begins to burst open. If a popper is not attainable, a common iron skillet covered tightly, and very lightly oiled on the bottom, may be used for the purpose. The corn must be very dry to begin with, and if good, nearly every kernel will pop open nicely. It should be used within twenty-four hours after popping.
DESCRIPTION.—Macaroni is a product of wheat prepared from a hard, clean, glutenous grain. The grain is ground into a meal called semolina, from which the bran is excluded. This is made into a tasty dough by mixing with hot water in the proportion of two thirds semolina to one third water. The dough after being thoroughly mixed is put into a shallow vat and kneaded and rolled by machinery. When well rolled, it is made to assume varying shapes by being forced by a powerful plunger through the perforated head of strong steel or iron cylinders arranged above a fire, so that the dough is partially baked as it issues from the holes. It is afterwards hung over rods or laid upon frames covered with cloth, and dried. It is called by different names according to its shape. If in the shape of large, hollow cylinders, it is macaroni; if smaller in diameter, it is spaghetti; if fine, vermicelli; if the paste is cut into fancy patterns, it is termed pasta d’Italia.
Macaroni was formerly made only in Italy, but at present is manufactured to a considerable extent in the United States. The product, however, is in general greatly inferior to that imported from Italy, owing to the difference in the character of the wheat from which it is made, the Italian macaroni being produced from a hard, semi-translucent wheat, rich in nitrogenous elements, and which is only grown successfully in a hot climate. Like all cereal foods, macaroni should be kept in a perfectly dry storeroom.
TO SELECT MACARONI.—Good macaroni will keep in good condition for years. It is rough, elastic, and hard; while the inferior article is smooth, soft, breaks easily, becomes moldy with keeping. Inferior macaroni contains a large percentage of starch, and but a small amount of gluten. When put into hot water, it assumes a white, pasty appearance, and splits in cooking. Good macaroni when put into hot water absorbs a portion of the water, swells to nearly double its size, but perfectly retains its shape. Inferior macaroni is usually sold a few cents cheaper per pound than the genuine article. It contains a much smaller amount of gluten. The best quality of any shape one pleases can be bought in most markets for ten or fifteen cents a pound.