Graham crackers have become the quintessential American cookie snack. However, there is so much about its history that we don’t know about.
What are Graham crackers?
What are they made of?
Graham crackers are whole wheat crackers created using a special type of flour. The crackers are slightly sweetened using honey and sugar. They are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes. The crackers came to being in 1829 and have continued to be a popular snack food, with millions of crackers sold every year.
Who invented Graham crackers?
Sylvester Graham, an American pastor, created the Graham cracker. In 1829, he created a recipe for the cracker with un-sifted, coarsely ground whole wheat flour as its main ingredient. Graham chose to tout his new invention as health food which he produced and sold locally.
Over time, the cracker became known as the Graham cracker. As a result of its innovation and popularity, other bakeries in the area copied the recipe and began developing methods for mass production. Since then, Graham crackers have become the popular snack that we know and love today. Furthermore, they have also become an integral ingredient in recipes for pie crust.
Why were Graham crackers invented?
Sylvester Graham, the creator of Graham crackers, was born in 1794 in Connecticut. He was always a small and sickly child suffering from mental breakdowns. He believed that a healthy diet was the key to healing his mind and body. By the 1820s, he had eradicated foods he deemed unhealthy from his diet, instead preferring unprocessed foods, water, and vegetables.
Graham publicly denounced commercial bakeries, claiming the products they created were tainted. Rather, he suggested that mothers return to the kitchen to bake wholemeal wheat bread rather than buy inferior baked goods made from refined white flour. He created a recipe book in the mid 19th century which instructed wives to test out fresh Graham flour to make crackers, biscuits, and griddle cakes. The Graham cracker is just one of the recipes available that was found and mass-produced by larger bakeries.
The recipe for Graham cookies has remained the same since its invention in 1829. The primary ingredients for the original recipe required whole-wheat flour, sugar, and fat. These ingredients are combined with others to create the characteristics associated with Graham cookies.
The recipe calls for the following ingredients:
Graham crackers have a sweet flavor. The primary sweetener is sucrose, typically made from sugar beet or sugar cane. Sugar makes up as little as 5% or as much as 15% of the recipe. Other sweetening alternatives include honey, molasses, corn syrup, and dextrose. Apart from adding flavor, the ingredients can also affect the color, improve the texture, preserve the product and contribute to the aroma.
Oils and fat
Oils and fats are other essential ingredients when making Graham crackers. Manufacturers can make these ingredients from a host of animal and plant sources. Some recipes require hydrogenated vegetable shortening made from cottonseed and soybean oil. The strong flavor of the oils is removed during the refining process. You can also use butter when creating Graham crackers; however, the butter’s flavor remains in the mix.
There are various reasons why oils and fat are important in Graham cracker recipes. One has to do with their insolubility in water. Typically when you add water to flour, the result is gluten. However, when oils and fats are present, they form a barrier between the water and flour, preventing gluten from forming.
Wheat flour is the major component of the Graham. It is made by grinding wheat seeds into powder form. Whole-wheat flour consists of the wheat seed’s three major parts: the bran, the endosperm, and the germ. The germ and bran are the larger parts that add color, fiber, and flavor to the flour. The purpose of the endosperm is to provide essential baking characteristics.
Generally, the endosperm is protein and starch, which is then combined with water to create gluten that can be rolled and stretched without breaking. This characteristic allows the dough to form into various shapes and sizes properly.
Apart from the primary ingredients mentioned above, other ingredients in a Graham cracker provide it with its unique texture and taste. You can add salt and cinnamon to contribute to the taste. Some bakers also add whey to ameliorate the already-existing flavors. Sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium bicarbonate, or other leavening ingredients introduce carbon dioxide into the dough. These compounds are responsible for the air pockets throughout the cracker. Brands can also add soy lecithin to make manufacturing easier. Brands use it to reduce the batter’s stickiness.
Why are they called Graham crackers?
Graham crackers made today are completely different from the original whole wheat Graham crackers made by Sylvester Graham more than 150 years ago. As an early 19th-century health reformer, Graham lectured on the evils of alcohol, fat, meat, and processed grains. He urged wives to use wholemeal wheat flour for their baked goods as the flour was rendered as first-rate digestive foods. Graham crackers are named so because Sylvester Graham’s name was given to the crackers, bread, and biscuits made from Graham flour. True Graham crackers are made without refined sugar and fat.
Measurements: Grahams By the Numbers
It is important to note that there isn’t a standard measurement of Graham crackers as every manufacturer creates to their unique standard. Nevertheless, you should have an idea of how many crackers to expect when you purchase a box.
How many Graham crackers are in a box?
Every box of Graham crackers comes with a set of sealed cracker sleeves, making them ideal for travel, the office, or the home. You can expect 27 double crackers or squares in a box.
How many Graham crackers are in a sleeve?
Depending on the brand, you can expect 36 small rectangles or 9 large rectangles in a sleeve.
How many Graham crackers in a cup of crumbs?
You will need 14 square Graham crackers or seven paired Graham cracker rectangles to make a cup of crumbs.
What Can I Make with Graham Crackers?
There are many baked and no-bake items you can create using Graham cookies. This section of the article highlights them.
One of the stellar attractions about Grahams is that you can use them for just about any dessert recipe. If you love baking, you simply need to search for a recipe that suits your taste and preference. You can select from Graham snickerdoodles, toffee, and pound cake. You can also use any leftover crackers to create your own twist on Kit-Kat bars.
Graham Cracker-Crusted Chicken Parmesan
This next item takes a turn for the savory. You might wonder why there aren’t more savory options. The fact is there isn’t a lot in the savory department for these crackers. Nevertheless, you can utilize your traditional chicken parmesan recipe. The Graham cracker twist involves you replacing breadcrumbs with crushed Graham crumbs. It can be a great dinner option that tastes great and makes space in your pantry. No longer does chicken parm have to be boring!
You no longer have to stick to the basics like carrots, celery sticks, and ranch dressing. You can use Graham crackers as great dippers for a dessert variant of a crudite platter. When making your dippers, you can choose to go all out with a chocolate or fondue fountain. Alternatively, you could keep it simple with a bowl of peanut butter or Nutella.
However, if you want to do something really special, you can make cookie dough dip to have with your Graham sticks.
Ice Cream Sandwiches
You can make ice cream sandwiches for a fun and cool no-bake treat. Simply replace the traditional soft cookie base with Grahams. You can use real ice cream or create icebox sandwiches that combine cold mix, whipped topping, and vanilla pudding mix.
Another snack you can make using Grahams are Graham cracker sandwiches. You can spread peanut butter between two Graham squares for a quick snack. You are not limited to just peanut butter. You can use just about anything spreadable you have on hand: sprinkles and frosting, cream cheese with fruit or jam, peanut butter, and raisins or banana slices. You can also make apple slices. This process involves using apple slices as the bread and cinnamon, peanut butter, and Grahams or the filling.
Graham Cracker Houses
You can use Grahams to make the roof and walls of a Graham cracker house. The pieces can be cemented using peanut butter or frosting and then decorated with an assortment of candy and sprinkles.
The great thing about Graham house is that you can use them for just about any holiday (think Easter, Halloween, or Christmas).
Every home baker understands that Graham crackers are the basis of any Graham cracker crust. Use leftover crushed Grahams to create the crust of your cheesecake and pies. You can also make mini-cheesecakes with the family using muffin tins. To add more flavor, top the mini-cheesecakes with fruit or jam. You can crush your Grahams by placing them in a plastic Ziplock bag and then pulverize them using a rolling pin.
Yogurt and Parfaits Toppings
You can crush up Graham crackers to use as a wonderful yogurt topping. You can even put a fun twist on it for the children by creating yogurt parfaits. You simply layer yogurt with berries and crushed Graham crackers to do this. You could even try plain or Greek yogurt with the toppings for a more healthy snack.
If you aren’t too strict on the amount of sugar your snack should have, then you can go all-in by creating blueberry or strawberry parfaits, substituting the yogurt for a cheesecake filling.
S’mores and S’more Alternatives
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a campfire for s’mores. You can simply use a microwave to make the best s’mores. This can be a fun experience for those with little kids as they can watch the marshmallows inflate as they heat up.
Alternatively, if you want a less messy alternative, you could try any of the following s’more alternatives:
- S’more pies
- S’more Rice Krispie treats
- S’mores on a stick
- S’more flavored snack cakes
How to crush Graham crackers
For most people, there are two ways they crush Grahams. The first involves breaking the crackers into a blender or food processor and then pressing the pulse button till they achieve the consistency they are looking for.
The second method is to simply crush the crackers by hand. To do this, you need to place your Grahams into a Ziplock bag and then crush them using a rolling pin.
Graham Crackers: Nutrition
Are Graham crackers healthy for weight loss?
Graham crackers do not contain too many calories, but consuming too many of them can place additional calories into your eating plan. Furthermore, while Sylvester Graham created the original Graham to provide a healthy alternative, modern Grahams have strayed from that directive. They have more added sugars than what was present in the past.
The following metrics are based on a 27 gram Graham cracker serving:
- Calories 140
- Sodium 72 mg
- Protein 1 g
- Dietary fiber 0.8 g
- Total carbohydrates 18 g
- Iron 2%
Are Graham crackers healthy?
On the whole, Graham crackers made today are not healthy. While one might believe that they don’t have that many calories, Graham crackers are high in sugar and carbohydrates for their serving size. Furthermore, they have a low nutritional value and very little fiber. However, this can depend on the brand.
This disparity is another reason you should read the labels on your food items. Several brands include very little fiber in their Graham cookies but include added sugars. All of this makes some brands on par with your average cookie in terms of unhealthiness.
Graham crackers are just like any other cracker with added sugars. What makes them stand out is the coarse flour used. Nevertheless, if you want a healthier option, you can select Graham cookies that have been made with whole food ingredients.
Are Graham crackers gluten-free?
Most Graham crackers you purchase from your neighborhood grocery stores are not gluten-free. They can contain unbleached enriched flour, in conjunction with Graham flour made from whole grain wheat flour.
Fortunately, you can make homemade Grahams gluten-free by using gluten-free ingredients. In terms of recipes, there are various recipes you can try out if you prefer to make your own gluten-free Grahams.
There are a couple of gluten-free Graham crackers available. They can be easy to spot, and the great news is that they taste just as common Graham crackers do.
Are Graham crackers paleo?
Most of the Graham crackers you will find available for purchase have not been created to be paleo. However, there is a way around this. You can choose to create your very own paleo Graham crackers or search for specialty brands that cater to alternate diets.
Are Graham crackers keto-friendly?
Some specialty Graham cracker brands cater to alternate lifestyles; however, there aren’t many on the market. If you were to head to your local grocery store for Graham crackers, you are more often than not going to run into some that aren’t keto-friendly. Your average Graham has a high carb content.
That said, there are various recipes for keto-friendly Grahams; you simply need to do a bit of research. Some recipes call for almond flour instead of the white flour used.
Are Graham crackers vegan?
It depends on the manufacturer and the manufacturing process. On one hand, Graham crackers don’t contain any eggs or dairy products. On the other hand, honey is an ingredient that tends to appear in numerous Graham products.
To answer if these crackers are vegan, it simply depends on the brand. If the Grahams contain honey, they cannot be 100% vegan. Nevertheless, there are famous Graham brands that make vegan variants. They are:
If you are unsure if a brand is vegan, you should always check.
Do Graham Crackers Go Bad?
Graham crackers aren’t made to last for years. However, they can last for a couple of months. Grahams can last for about six to nine months when stored properly. The specific amount of time a box of Grahams last will depend on when they were shipped and how long they have been on the grocery shelf.
When buying Grahams at your grocery store, you should always check the expiration date on the box. By doing this, you can double-check that you aren’t purchasing a box of Grahams that’s been sitting on the shelf for months.
Graham crackers can go bad, but it will take a couple of months before they do if they are properly stored.
How long do Graham crackers last?
Generally, unopened crackers can last for about nine months. However, once you open them, you have about four to six weeks to consume them. For the bag of open Grahams to last that long, you will need to secure them every time you open the bag. Never let a bag of Grahams sit on the table for a couple of hours.
Doing this allows moisture and air to get into them. These factors are the largest reasons why food becomes stale before it needs to.
Is it ok to eat expired Graham crackers?
It depends. If the Grahams are unopened, then the first step would be to open them and smell them. If the crackers have an off appearance, flavor, or odor, then you shouldn’t eat them. Additionally, if they have mold on them, then you should definitely throw them away.
Where can I buy Honey Maid Graham crackers?
You can purchase Honey Maid Graham crackers at just about any grocery store, from Target to Walmart.
What aisle are Graham crackers in at the grocery store?
For instance, if you are searching for Grahams at Kroger, you can find all the Grahams you need on Aisle 45. In Walmart, you can find Grahams on Aisle A16.
Where to buy gluten-free Graham crackers?
You can purchase gluten-free Grahams online at any gluten specialty online store. Alternatively, you could head over to grocery stores that cater to healthy or alternate diets.
Where to buy chocolate Graham crackers?
You can purchase chocolate Grahams online on Amazon and some traditional grocery stores.
Can babies have honey Graham crackers?
While the honey in some Grahams is processed, when had in small quantities, there is no issue with babies consuming Graham crackers. It is advisable to give babies in small quantities from a year old. Older children and adults can digest the bacteria without any side effects, but babies cannot.
Can dogs eat Graham crackers?
Dogs can consume Graham crackers, so long as it is done in safe small amounts. There are trace minerals and vitamins in the crackers that can benefit dogs. However, cinnamon and honey Grahams contain sugars that can cause tooth decay and obesity.