The Grain Chain

Archive for November, 2010

More free resources for our readers!

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Smiley Wheat Character Aug10Take your class on a Taste Adventure

As our regular blog readers will know, we’ve teamed up with Slow Food UK to offer children across the country the chance to take part in a fantastic Taste Adventure. Children set off on a journey across five different activity stations, each with an activity aimed at engaging one of the five senses. After taking part in The Taste Adventure, students should have a greater understanding of the following:

    how to appreciate food using each sense individually

    how each sense affects the others

    the basic elements of taste

    the difference between taste and flavour

The Grain Chain team will be at the BBC Good Food show in Birmingham on Sunday 28 November, so if you live nearby, why not pop along and say hello?

The Taste Adventure can be carried out in schools and is completely free! If you are interested, take a look at

Top tips – lesson ideas

Have you checked out our additional worksheets, courtesy of Licence to Cook? Learn about everything from how grain is grown, harvested and milled to the role of the ingredients in bread there will be something for everyone. Furthermore, each worksheet is set up in a Microsoft Word format, enabling you to adapt them to best suit your class.

Have you got a class full of teenage chatterboxes? Tap into their love of talking by looking at sensory vocabulary to describe foods. By sensory vocabulary, you may want to point out that you mean “proper” words such as “tasty” rather than “sick” (for those of you who don’t know, this bizarrely means “really good”). Encourage them to talk about the smell, taste, texture and appearance of different bread and other foodstuffs rather than last night’s episode of Hollyoaks. See our sensory vocabulary poster which you can use to start your lesson.

National Curry Week curry

Did you know that this week is National Curry Week?

National Curry Week was established in 1998 to raise money for those struck by poverty and malnutrition in South Asia. Restaurants all over the country are raising money by selling special dishes and raffle tickets and asking customers to add just one pound to their bills, which is exactly the amount that half of the world’s population lives off per day. They are also running competitions like “Currybard of the Year“ (for the best curry-related poem), the Samosa Speed Record (for the most samosas prepared in 10 minutes) and the World Poppadom Tower Challenge! This year, money raised through National Curry Week activities will be going to the Pakistan Flood Disaster Appeal.

Why not raise awareness amongst your students and teach them to make a delicious, home-made version of the Nation’s favourite food? Our Rogan Josh recipe uses oil (try vegetable oil to get additional benefits) rather than ghee, which means it is therefore lower in saturated fat than most takeaways. Surprise students with our recipe for naan bread – which is made with yoghurt! Or have a go at making our chapattis- the perfect accompaniment to an Indian meal.

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Not so horrible histories…

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Following on from the history of baking feature in our last blog, we thought you might like to find out more about the early history of bread. It might not be anywhere near as exciting as horrible histories of course…but we reckon it’s definitely getting there!


Most people could be forgiven for thinking that history was driven by great scientists and ambitious people, but if you look closer, you’ll find that many of our inventions were actually driven by food availability, production and delivery. In other words, bread! Many kings and queens throughout history put a strong emphasis on feeding the people – they knew that the more hungry their populations were, the more insecure their rule over them was.

 bread egypt

In prehistoric times, cereal was ground between two stones to make a coarse flour like substance. This would have been moulded into course, flat cakes and cooked on an open fire. At around the same time in Egypt where their civilisation was more advanced, bread was commonplace. Paintings on the walls of tombs depict bread being offered to the gods. It is likely that all of these breads were leavened because the water in the Nile contains the same strain of yeast that is used in baking today!


Elsewhere the leavening of bread was beginning to become more common.  Initially this is thought to have come about by accident – the natural environment contains yeast in the air and a paste of flour and water will begin to ferment if left for a couple of hours. Some sourdough breads to this day are still made using this method.


So have cereals always been grown and milled in Britain? The answer is no. The Romans brought wheat, oats and rye over to Britain along with many of their bread making techniques. However, this new found skill of baking didn’t last long once the Romans left and during the Dark Ages, the process was very hit and miss.

 wheat harvesting 1800s

By the Middle Ages however, people had begun to use horses for ploughing. The watermill and windmill were invented and society began to get itself more organised. The loaves produced during this time were normally huge, around 4.5kg and were expected to feed a family for a week.


In Tudor times, for the poor, bread was made from a mixture of grains whilst peasant bread was made from peas and beans. Meanwhile the rich were acquiring a liking for white bread.  White bread was considered superior for two reasons, it was expensive and it implied prestige. The church used a white bread called Pandemain as the sacramental bread and people took this to mean better.


Bread in England continued to be made of mixed grains until well into the Victorian era. Imported wheat became plentiful and was milled in the ports for distribution to the growing urban population. Most breads after this time were made solely using the wheat grain.


What happens now? How is bread made?


Resources on cover the entire process from growing the crops, to harvesting, milling and baking.


For age specific resources, click on the following links:


Growing and harvesting – age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16


Milling - age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16


Baking – age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16