Week 3 Lab Data: Group B

Group B: Raine, Andrew, Sam (working in collaboration with Group D)

In this lab we had the primary goal of making maza with a secondary goal of cooking farro porridge. Some of our main goals included looking at the viability of maza as a source of calories and how varying different ingredients affected both the taste and storage capabilities of maza. The Lab can be broken down into 4 parts: roasting barley, grinding the roasted barley, forming the maza, and cooking the porridge.

Roasting Barley

Barley roasting took place in a large, cast-iron pot placed over the above-ground fire. Raw barley grain was added to the pot and stirred constantly until properly browned.

Time (min)Notes
0Pot was placed on the above-ground fire
2Added 2 cups of barley weighing 457 grams
3Added an additional 2 cups of barley (total weight of raw barley estimated to be 950 g.)
8First signs of barley becoming darker
12First scorch marks observed
20Pot moved to colder part on fire to help the barley cook evenly (some were getting more scorch marks than others)
23Moved pot back to hottest part of fire
26Barley is very dark, nearly finished
barley roasting

A few observations: Our barley cooked much slower than group D’s. This was probably because we used a much larger pot and cooked much more barley. Also, we were pleasantly surprised with how easy this process was. It was very easy to monitor the barley to stop it from burning. The only laborious part was constantly stirring the grains which required minimal effort. Lastly, the roasted barley at the end was edible. While it didn’t taste like much, it had a bit of a charred flavor to it was was not too bad.

Here is a folder containing photos of the barley taken every minute during the roasting process. This folder also has a video montage of all these photos stitched together.


After the roasting the barley we had to grind it. While the quern was our primary tool, we also experimented with the mortar and pestle. Grinding was the bottleneck in this lab since roasting barley and forming maza were relatively quick. This meant that grinding had to be a continuous process. We always aimed to have someone working on grinding the barley while other people were forming maza as the flour became available. By the end of the lab we still had a lot of roasted barley left over showing that our ability to grind hindered our maza production. Here are some grinding observations we had:

  • The roasted barley was easier to grind than the raw barley.
  • The mortar and pestle were much less efficient than the quern. One person described it as “very slow, high effort, and needing lots of leverage.” It would take several minutes to adequately grind just 20-30 grains of barley (raw)
  • Compared to the mortar and pestle, the quern was much easier to use.
  • One group member was able to grind 1/3rd a cup of roasted barley in 4 minutes.
  • It took us 40 minutes of grinding on the quern to produce 1.5 cups of compressed barley flour. Note that this time is probably a little slow since we had people constantly switching off grinding and, for the new people switching in, it was often their first time grinding with the quern.
  • Most (but not all) people found that longer arm motions were better for grinding the roasted barley.
  • After grinding some barley, many of the crushed grains were still too large to pass through the sieve. We found that it was extra difficult to grind these partially ground grains into a flour. To maximize efficiency, we discarded the partially ground barley in favor of unground barley. If it was our goal to make as much maza as possible with unlimited time, then we would have continued to process the partially ground barley.

Forming Maza

Forming maza an easy and straightforward process. The standard recipe called for a 2:1 ratio of roasted barley flour to water and a pinch of salt. You simply mix all these ingredients together, form balls of dough, then press them flat with your hands. After that you just have to wait for it to dry which varied based on the added exact proportions and ingredients. In total, we made 14 different pieces of maza over 5 batches. Maza from the same batch had the same proportions of flour to water and the same amount of salt. Otherwise, maza within the same batch could differ in terms of size and proportions of olive oil and honey. Each batch was made as follows

  • Batch 1: base test. We used un-sieved flour, a relatively small amount of salt, and a 2:1 ratio of barley to flour. Each maza made from this batch weighed about 64 grams
  • Batch 2: playing with honey and olive oil. Had 1.5 cups of compressed, crushed barley (weighing about 188 grams), 3/4th cup water, and a large pinch of salt.
  • Batch 3: Varying size with honey and olive oil used together. We used slightly less than 1.25 cups of flower (weighing 121 gams), about 5/8ths cup water, and a large pinch of salt. 1/8th cup of olive oil and 1/8th cup of honey was also added to the entire batch.
  • Batch 4: Less water. Started with 1 cup of compressed barley weighing 104 grams, 1/4th cup of water, 1/8th cup of olive oil, 1/8th cup of honey, and a large pinch of salt. The resulting mixture was far too dry to be used so we then added another 1/8th cup of water and, surprisingly, that was enough to form the maza into more of a dough. So, in the end the flour to water ratio was 8:3.
  • Batch 5: Twice fried bread. 3/4 cups of flower and 2:1 ratio with water. Salt and about a table spoon of olive oil were also added. The maza was then friend for 3 minutes on both sides on a pan.

The table below has one row for each of the unique maza (identical maza pieces are grouped together). Taste and ability to be stored are evaluated on the following scale: worst, bad, fine, good, best. Note that all these scores are relative as most people wouldn’t describe any of the maza as tasting “good”. Scores are subjective and based on my experience with the maza as well as how I observed other people reacting to the it. The ability to be stored looks at the state of each maza one day after it was formed.

BatchMazaAdditional ingredients or notesAbility to be storedTaste
11-3NAbest (dried out the fastest and was very solid)Worst (very bitter, there were large pieces of grain due to the lack of sieving)
240.5 tbsp. honeygood (dried out after one day and was mostly solid)good (sieved grain made it more enjoyable, honey helped with the bitterness
251.5 tbsp. honeygood (pretty dry and solid but a litter softer than maza 2)best (all the extra honey really helped with the bitterness)
260.5 tbsp. olive oilfine (still darker and damp the next day, slightly worse than maza 5)bad (sieving the grain helped with the texture but the added olive oil didn’t do a lot)
271.5 tbsp. olive oilbad (all the extra olive oil made it quite damp and crumbly) bad (same as maza 6)
38Formed to be very smallbad (while small, the olive oil and honey together seemed to prevent the maza from drying out. Was very wet and crumbly)fine (the olive oil didn’t make much of a difference but the honey helped)
39Formed to be medium size and rectangular in shape.Worst (bad for the same reasons as maza 8 but was made even worse by its larger size)fine (same as maza 8)
310Formed to be very large and circularWorst (same reason as maza 9)fine (same as maza 8)
411/12NAgood (still a little damp, maybe due to the olive oil, but held together quite well)fine (tasted very similar to mazas 8-10)
513/14NAGood (was a little damp but solid overall)bad (very bitter, in general all the maza that lacked honey did not taste good)
Maza after drying for 1 day

Farro Porridge

Making the porridge was very straightforward. We started with 541 grams of farro and eye-balled a liter of water in a pot. A few minutes in we added 2 pinches of salt and a little more water while stirring. Stirred for ten minutes. At this point water level was quite low so we added enough water to cover the farro then left the pot undisturbed for 37 minutes. At this point the porridge had finished and most of the water had either been absorbed or evaporated off. The entire process took 47 minutes and was extremely easy. The porridge, while mostly flavorless, actually tasted alright.

finished porridge

Final Thoughts

Overall maza is a straight forward food to make. Roasting the barley is easy and grinding, while requiring a lot of work, is simple and manageable. While we had mixed results regarding the taste and storage abilities of each maza we made, I imagine that once someone figures out a recipe that works it would be very easy to reproduce. It seems like plain maza is best for storage but is also the worst with regards to taste. Olive oil seems to hinder the structure and storage capabilities of maza while not improving taste that much so I wouldn’t recommend it in future recipes. Honey, on the other hand, improved the taste greatly without compromising ability to be stored by too much. Therefore I would suggest future experiments to test out varying levels of honey and water to come up with the perfect balance of taste and stability.

0 thoughts on “Week 3 Lab Data: Group B

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.