Mr. Sarda’s kindergarteners buddied up this year with Mrs. Feitelberg’s fourth graders to make a spaghetti garden. Since pasta is made from wheat, they planted wheat seeds in the fall. And since pasta sauce has tomatoes and herbs in it, they planted tomatoes, oregano, basil, garlic and onions. Last week the fourth graders picked wheat, oregano, basil, garlic and onions.
Harvesting: The wheat was nicely headed up — with beautiful, visible green grains. Since wheat is not ready to eat until the stalks turn stiff and golden, and the school year is over, we harvested some wheat, but used wheat that had been purchased in the fall at a farmer’s market for our experiment.
Threshing: Next, we tried threshing the golden grains — loosening the grain from the chaff, or outside coating of the seed — by smashing the wheat between two hard objects. In days past, that might be a stone and the hooves of an ox, or a giant mortar and pestle. Today, threshing machines are attached to harvesters in giant “combines.”
Winnowing: After the students threshed, they tied winnowing — separating the wheat seeds, or grain, from the chaff by tossing it up into the air in a winnowing basket. It worked a bit — the hard, heavier grain fell down, and the lighter hull made a big mess on Mr. Sarda’s carpet. In traditional settings, the hull and husk would blow away in the wind while the grain fell to the ground.
Grinding: After the grains were separated from the hull, they could be ground into flour. We used wheat grains from a grocery store (as are harvest would not have amounted to more than a few teaspoons of flour) and ground them in a special attachment on a food processor that we borrowed from the Brown family (thank you!!). Grains went in, flour came out!
Cooking: The next logical step would be to make our own pasta — mixing the flour with egg and water to make a dough, and then rolling it out into noodles. Instead, our classes purchased noodles and focused on the pasta sauce next.
Sauce: Tomatoes — the tomatoes are not yet ripe — they need a few more weeks of hot sun — so we bought tomato sauce and mixed in onions, garlic, oregano, and basil from the garden. Yumm!!!