Wheat in the Army
Excerpted from the 1916 edition of the Manual
for Army Bakers
[Classification] [Grading] [Composition]
Wheat is the most important of the
cereals grown in this country. It thrives in temperate
regions, but does not flourish in the tropics.
All wheat's may be divided into two
Winter wheat, which is
sown in the fall and is hardy enough to survive
Spring wheat, which is
sown in the spring, in climates where there is
danger of killing winter frosts.
Winter wheat is generally classified as
soft wheat and spring wheat as hard wheat, but there are
hard and soft varieties of both.
In the United States the wheat's used for
making flour may be grouped under the following heads:
Soft red winter wheat,
grown in eastern United States in a mild, even,
moist climate -- light-red grain, containing a
medium percentage of gluten.
Hard red winter wheat,
grown in the region south of central Iowa and
between Ohio and the Rocky Mountains, in a
climate having extremes of temperature and
moisture, with hot, dry summers. A red grain with
a high percentage of gluten.
Hard spring wheat, grown
in Minnesota and the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Iowa,
Nebraska, and Canada, in a climate too severe for
winter wheat. A reddish grain, containing a high
percentage of gluten.
White winter wheat,
grown on the Pacific coast and in some of the
Rocky Mountain states, in a mild, even climate. A
large, white, plump grain, containing a low
percentage of gluten.
Durum wheat, commonly
known as macaroni wheat from its use in the
manufacture of that article, is grown principally
in the semiarid region extending north and south
of western Kansas and eastern Colorado. It will
withstand drought and heat and flourish in dry
alkaline soil. In some mild climates it is sown
in the fall, but is generally classed as a spring
wheat. It has large, hard, reddish-yellowish
kernels containing a very percentage of gluten.
Its flour is yellow and makes a dark bread and
when unblended is not considered desirable by
bakers for break-baking purposes.
Generally speaking, flour from hard wheat
contains a relatively large portion of gluten, say 10 to
16 percent, and flour from soft wheat much less,
generally from 7 to 9 percent. From a baker's standpoint
starch is of secondary importance. Flour is composed
almost entirely of these two elements, and each serves a
most important function in the process of bread making.
The rules for grading wheat vary somewhat
in different sections of the country, according to the
kinds of wheat there grown.These rules are uniform,
however, in one particular -- the number of grades.
No. 1 wheat must be
perfectly sound, plump, dry, have am even color,
be free from all foreign matter, and have a sweet
No. 2 wheat must be
sound, unaffected by must, rain, sun, or dew.
No. 3 wheat may be
somewhat bleached and otherwise unsound --
slightly inferior to No. 2.
No. 4 wheat, unsound
from any cause, sufficient to render it unfit for
All lower grades are rejected.
As a general rule No. 1 should weigh not
less than 60 pounds per bushel, No. 2 not less than 58
pounds, and No. 3 not less than 56 pounds.
Only a small percentage of wheat will
grade No. 1, it is usually, if not always, retained and
used for seed.
An average hard wheat contains about:
10 percent water
12 percent gluten,
producing flesh and muscle. The gluten cells are
distributed throughout the heart of the grain
among the starch cells. The amount and quality of
gluten determine the water-retaining capacity of
a flour and regulate the quantity of bread
68 percent starch,
producing heat, energy, and fat. The starch cells
comprise the greater portion of the kernel.
Starch is the water absorber. During the process
of fermentation about 2 percent is transformed
into alcohol and carbonic-acid gas. The
carbonic-acid gas forms in cells, giving
lightness to the bread, but the alcohol vaporizes
in the oven, where most of it escapes.
2 percent fat, found
mostly in the germ. As fat tends to produce
rancidity in flour, the germ is now generally
removed in modern milling.
8 percent bran, the five
outer coats of the wheat kernel are strong in
woody fiber, mineral ingredients, and coloring
matter. It is very indigestible in the human
stomach and is excluded in the process of
manufacture except where graham or whole wheat
flour is desired.
The proportions in which the several
ingredients appear vary considerably in different
wheat's. For example, Oregon white winter wheat contains
about 9 percent gluten, Minnesota hard spring wheat about
14 percent, Oklahoma hard winter wheat about 15 percent.
All wheat raised in low, damp districts contains more
moisture, generally less gluten, and gluten of inferior
quality than that raised in higher and dryer climates.
Soft wheat contains less gluten
and more starch and water than hard wheat.
Return to Bread Baking in
World War I Army
Deitrck, Capt. L.L., ed. Manual
for Army Bakers. War Dept. Doc. 563. Washington:
GPO, 1916. 123pp. This material is taken from pages 5-8.