Lab 3: Group D Maza Data

Group D: Wendy Erickson, Astrid Malter, Brendan Glenn, Lucy Neuman, collaborated with group B

Conditions: 46 degrees, light wind

Within this lab section, we attempted to make maza through cooing, grinding, and forming barley and other ingredients. We sought to test the taste, durability, and look of products with varying amounts of core ingredients (ground barley, water, salt, honey and olive oil) and varying storage conditions of size and double cooking.


We were provided with a large amount of uncooked barley grain. Our first step was to put the grate on top of the fire and to add our group’s 10 inch pan as well as the other group’s large pot. We added 1.5 cups of barley to the pan for a heating time of approximately 15 minutes.

  • Barley in contact with sides and bottom of pan turned brown quickly, some grains were partially burnt, constant stirring was necessary to maintain relatively even browning
  • 10 inch pan appeared to be heating the barley faster but more unevenly than larger amount of grain in the large pot
  • We attempted to rotate the pan slightly away from direct heat in order to combat excessive browning

Our resulting cooked barley was firm but chewable, tasted roughly like burnt popcorn.


We first used the mortar and pestle with grind our cooked grain. Compared to our baseline experiment of grinding uncooked kernels, the process was considerably quicker and required less force. A handful sized batch took roughly 5 minutes of continuous grinding.

  • Experimented with techniques for grinding, resulting product contained many larger sized kernels that were not well broken down

Second, we were able to use the saddle quern to grind flower. This process was considerably faster but required a process of trial and error to learn how to effectively use the system. We then put our ground four through a sieve to further separate our mixture into a finer texture. Our final product was considerably rougher than the freshly ground flour used by some of the other groups.

  • Our experimentation process in using the quern seemed to indicate that using less grains at a single time and placing them in the center top to start with was the best method. Additionally, long strokes of the stone and using the scraper to direct stray grains sped up the process.
  • One cup of barley took approximately 4 minutes to process with the quern
  • We noticed that the product that made it through the grinding process once but did not fit through the sifter was generally harder to grind when attempting to break it down a second time, perhaps because this isolated harder bits of grain

Experimental Process:

We tested how variations in size, ingredients, and other conditions would affect maza. First, we started with the simplest combination of ingredients (barley, water, and a small amount salt), and then slowly added in additional factors. Almost all batches included a roughly 2:1 ratio of barley to water. Each batch was made by mixing ingredients together in a bowl, dividing the mixture into small quantities, and hand pressing each maza individually into a disk shape. The variations of maza that we made were:

  • Plain [1:1-3]: 1 cup barley, 1/2 cups water, pinch of salt
  • Olive Oil and Honey [2:1-2, 3:1-2]: 1+1/2 cups barley, 3/4 cups water, apx. tsp salt, (mixture split) 0.5 and 1.5 olive oil, 0.5 and 1 honey added to individual maza
  • Varying Size [4:1-2]: 1+1/4 cups barley, 1/2+a bit cups water, 1/8 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup honey
  • Less Water [5:1-2]: 1 cup barley, 1/4 cup water, 1/8 olive oil 1/8 cup honey (not enough liquid to stick mixture together), another 1/8 cup water added
  • Fried [6:1-2] Remainder of barley (approximately 1 cup), water, olive oil (not honey), placed on pan above fire for 6 minutes total, flipped over once
Maza GroupInitial ObservationsDurability (1 day later)Taste Rank*Durability Rank*
1: Plain Became firmer and drier quickly, dried to a lighter color, larger bits of un-ground barley made it harder to eat, lack of other ingredients contributed to a pretty bad taste overall Light color and cracked surface, held together well42
2: Olive Oil Did not dry very quickly or hold together well, especially the version with more olive oil Very cracked, not holding together well, still not great tasting43
3: HoneyDried similarly quickly to the plain version (much faster than olive oil), 1 tbs honey version seems to be sticking slightly betterBest tasting, mostly because of an overwhelming honey flavor, very solid13
4: Varying SizeSmall version seemed to be okay, rectangular and large shapes seem unstable Extremely crumply, even small version broke apart if you tried to move 24
5: Less WaterInitial experiment of half water would not hold together the mixture, but adding slightly more seemed to work very well Held together much better than batch 4 32
6: FriedFrying was a relatively quick process, taste roughly the same as other full-ingredient versionsMost durable, frying seems to have made it stick together better and not significantly harmed the taste31
Table of final data, *subjective, based on group consensus 1 = best 4 = worst
Pot of porridge
Pot of porridge


We also started a porridge cooking process with approximately 541g of farro grains and over 1 liter of water simultaneously with our efforts at grinding barley. Total cooking time was approximately 45 minutes before the batch was done, with additional water added along the way. The result was edible but not particularly exciting in texture or taste.


I think that some takeaways of our experiments are that using the quern sped up production time and sifting the flour helped keep the barley consistency fairly even and small so was definitely beneficial. The ideal size for our maza seemed to be roughly palm-shaped but with higher levels of durability larger sizes could potentially work well. Adding the full amounts of water, olive oil, and honey made the product too unstable although better tasting than the plain version. Based on batch 5, I think a solution could be to add the minimum amount of water necessary to stick the mixture together. Finally, and surprisingly, frying could potentially be a way to further increase the durability of the maza.

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