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OF MONT ANA HELEN A February Î, 1959 KJ > o A A HI ••>; L ■*TJp.. ■ By R. K. BEQVETTE and R. B. POTTS* GRANDMA SHOULD SEE the wheat quality laboratory at Montana State College in Bozeman. She would wish that she could have en joyed some of its conveniences in her kitch . en back in the days when she was turning , out a big batch of home-baked bread once or twice every week. Where she used to have to wrestle her flour from a 100-pound sack, get her milk and shortening from the ice box or, more likely, from down at the spring house and fetch other necessary in gredients from the pantry, here everything needed is handy and ready. Most ingredients are kept in a central dis pensing unit which was constructed by the laboratory staff to increase accuracy of pro cedure and reduce time required. The unit automatically meters liquid solutions of sug ar, salt, malt, oxidizing agent, yeast and wa ter into a mixing bowl. Flour and dry-milk solids are weighed into sealed containers. Melted shortening is added from a cali brated glass tube. It's all designed to re duce steps and motions to a minimum and to assure absolute accuracy of measure ment. Grandma Accurate, Too Grandma would appreciate that accuracy, too. She always measured everything care fully when she was baking—so many cup fuls of flour, so many tablespoons of this so many pinches of that. No guess work for her. She always used the same cup for meas uring—the one with the broken handle. And one of her pinches was a precise amount. No more, no less. The temperature of her oven was always just right, too. She made sure by sticking her hand in to feel before she put in the loaves. One thing grandma had in common with the laboratory—as a result of her skill and accuracy, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that, on the rare occasions when her bread didn't turn out just right, the fault lay in the flour she used. Grandma's objective was good bread. The laboratory's objective is good wheat—which is what it takes to make good bread. In its GRANDMA WOULD APPRECIATE MONTANA'S -4# V ,r/ I \*A W XU f A I * .-V l*A fata WHEAT QUALITY LABORATORY SZjâ \ » ; >icy fj V ■;,r , < i mt I v ; ftüft ;,v. ifa C£l y l » '\fr\ V\ s ■/■MS 0 Mm v r I m W\ tvj ? COVERS MONTANA AND NORTHERN WYOMING r search for good wheat the laboratory tests an average of 25 samples of wheat varieties a day. Testing in this case, means to find out how a variety will mill and bake since, in the final analysis, a wheat is only as good as the bread it will bake. Thus each wheat sample, sometimes as little as a few ounces, is milled and baked at the laboratory. Thousands of Samples This pace of 25 tests a day must be main tained because the plant breeders of the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station are producing several thousand different va rieties each year in the constant search for better wheats for Montana farmers. In 1957 the laboratory made 1,420 tests. This year the laboratory has a total of 2,559 wheat samples on hand to test. Not all of these samples will be given a baking test, but 579 samples of spring and winter wheat will require at least two bak ings each and 513 samples will require four bakings each. Thus a total of 3,210 loaves of bread will be baked by the laboratory this year. Of course these loaves are not the man sized affairs that grandma used to turn out. In fact they are much smaller than the regu lar 1-pound loaf we buy in the stores today. They are made in two sizes, the 1/3-pound "pup loaf" and the 1/12-pound "micro" loaf. Micro-Testing Although much of the equipment and many of the testing techniques used in the laboratory are similar to those employed in a commercial flour mill laboratory, many of the problems encountered in testing hybrid selections and new varieties are unique. One of these problems is the lim ited amount of seed available for testing. The large-scale tests employed in the flour mill would consume all of the seed and leave nothing for propagation. 'The plant breeder is anxious to have his wheat selections tested for quality as early as pos sible in the breeding programs. This enables him to discard inferior lines and results in a tremendous saving (Continued on page 18) iff) / m y ■ Jm y ■ ■ in î \ s m mm M ■ ] -, ■ I i "fi i | -V m UÜ : /■; : : : - i i This intricate system of bottles and tubes is the cen tral dispensing unit. At the twist of a petcock, in gredients for making micro-loaves of bread can be metered out with absolute precision. (Montana Agri cultural Experiment Station photos) , y ?.. in 'M W. Shown here in comparison with a regular 1-pound loaf are the two sizes of loaves made by the labora tory. The fi-pound loaf (center) is baked from a im pound wheat sample. The 1/12-pound or micro-loaf al the right can be baked from flour obtained from milling as little as 9 ounces of wheat in the labora tory's micro-mill.