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Farina is a form of starch – flour – milled from a variety of vegetables such as potato and cassava. In the US, the term is associated with wheat middlings: the germ and endosperm of the grain, which are milled to a fine consistency and then sifted. It is a brand of hot breakfast cereal, or porridge, invented in 1893 in the United States by wheat millers in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Farina is often prepared as a hot porridge-like dish and served for breakfast. It may also be cooked like polenta and farofa, which are made with ground corn. Farina with milk and sugar is sometimes used for making creams for layered cakes. Farina can be used as a substitute for bread crumbs in sweet and meat pies (to absorb excess water). It can also be used to prevent dough from sticking to baking surfaces via the baking process, leaving residual farina on the bottom of the final product.
Farina is a carbohydrate-rich food. When enriched with iron, it can be a significant source of dietary iron, especially for vegetarian diets. Popular brands offer up to 50% of the recommended daily value of iron in a single 500-kilojoule (120-kilocalorie) serving. In commercially available farina, the bran and most of the germ are removed. Cream of Wheat, Malt-O-Meal, and Farina Mills are popular brand names of breakfast cereal. To augment its mild taste, popular add-ins to cooked farina include brown or granular sugar, maple, honey, molasses, fruit, nuts, cinnamon, butter, grated chocolate, jams, milk, and salt.
Cream of Wheat is made by boiling water, then pouring it into the flour while stirring. As it is stirred, the flour begins to thicken, depending on the ratio of liquid to flour. Some choose to use milk instead, or milk and water, in order to give the food a creamier flavor. There are currently three original mixes available: 10 minute, 2½ minute, and 1 minute. Cream of Wheat is also sold in individual packages, ready to serve. These preparations only require pouring hot water directly into a bowl (about two minutes).
It is common to personalize the hot cream with sugar, fruit, or dried fruit.