Which Cereals / Grains Absorb the Most Water?

Quinoa doesn’t absorb much at all, which is why it doesn’t make a satisfying meal for the same amount of calories as the alternatives. Corn and buckwheat on the other hand puff up pretty well.

I am talking about normal cooking conditions, boiling water for 20-40 minutes, not left soaking overnight to become disgusting.

Is there a list somewhere for this?

Quinoa begins by not being a cereal. Rice is commonly used in Spain to keep salt dry, but I suspect it’s because, unlike most cereals, it’s easily available as the de-husked grains. That’s a factor to consider, what format is the cereal in (wholegrain, grain, flour).

I suspect oats. Tried some Googling but everything seemed to be about the right way to cook oatmeal. Another stab lead to a lot of discussion about issues with standard absorption ratios in beer making. The main discussion there is not about the grain used but the form it is in. (I would think the form only affects the time it takes to fully absorb water, not how much. Maybe a fixed time is required in brewing.)

There was a real danger in the old days of a hungry kid eating oat porridge while it’s still cooking. The porridge would continue to swell in their digestive system.

Haven’t found a list, but IME rice absorbs a large amount of water, though I haven’t experimented to compare it to oats.

molten, you mentioned corn but when I cook corn it does not absorb any water to speak of. What kind of corn are you cooking?

One list of grain preparation seems to require the most water for barley. Corn meal is also up there for making polenta, although should be noted that corn meal is dried, whereas I consider “corn” to be whole corn kernels. So your initial question needs to be more specific about what you mean by “grains.”

(For our British friends, replace “grain” with “corn” and “corn” with “maize.”)

According to this article, millet absorbs more water than sorghum, which absorbs more than corn.Sorghum takes forever to cook, while millet should cook in 20 minutes or so.

I’ve seen breakfast cereals that have psyllium in them. It’s claimed psyllium absorbs 50 times its weight in water. Unfortunately, it has little actual nutritional value and is more often used as a laxative.

Millet had the highest rate of water absorption as well as the total water absorbed. (from Google)

When I first started making bread, I experimented by adding different grains. Oats work well, and I tried barley, which was okay. But when I tried adding a cup of corn, the bread came out very dry. Reasoning that corn absorbs a lot of water when I make polenta, I tried cooking it. Actually, just adding it to a pot of boiling water and then taking it off the light and letting it cool. Worked beautifully and the bread remains moist. I have never tried millet or sorghum but I assume the same treatment would work. I still do it 40 years on.