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Sedalia Dave

Why Most of America Is Terrible at Making Biscuits

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My mom-in-law was born and raised in Oregon and she makes killer biscuits. And my ex stepdad's aunt in Missouri made the world's worst biscuits but nobody told her because they were afraid of her...

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Fascinating.

 

My mother was born and raised in Eastern Kentucky, and always made great biscuits. I asked her once for her recipe, and she said she just added ingredients until it looked right. I watched, and nope, still can't make them. I've done a close approximation of her gravy, when I don't scorch it. Her cornbread, I haven't tried to make, although my older sister does, and does a reasonable job of it. She gave me a recipe, I just haven't given it a try yet.

Edited by DocWard

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24 minutes ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Why Most of America Is Terrible at Making Biscuits

 

There’s a scientific reason no one outside the South can nail them.

I must respectively disagree! I grew up having hard wheat biscuits in southern Kansas and then spent many years working in the south and yes enjoyed White Lily but 

even tough the height of the biscuit  was better the taste was not any more impressive.

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Something that has been known for decades.  Evcn AP flour varies in mix of hard and soft flour by region, with, as the article suggests, the farther north and west you get the higher the percentage of hard wheat in the AP flour blend.  

A few tricks to remember:  Grate the butter on a box grater and mix it into the dry ingredients with a fork with a toss and stir method.  Handle as little as possible.  Mix until it just barely holds together.  Don't overmix as that develops the gluten.   Adding in either more flour or more liquid after you have started mixing will usually result in overmixed, and therefor tough, biscuits.

Pat and fold, don't knead and roll.  Once you have dumped it out of the bowl onto a lightly floured counter pat it into a rectangle. Fold in thirds, pat out the other direction, and fold into thirds again  Do that one more time, patting it out to about 3/4 of an inch thick.  I like to cut it into squares with a long knife rather than with round cutters.  Cutting out rounds means then combining the scraps, patting them out, cutting more, combining and patting out the scraps.  They get tougher and tougher as you rework the scaps.  

Bake in a 425 to 450 oven 15 to 18 minutes.


 

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McDonald’s makes pretty good biscuits and they’re nationwide. ;)

Yep, I said it and I hate McDonald’s but their biscuits are good. And their biscuits and gravy is good too. Of course they don’t have class enough to sell their biscuits and gravy anywhere but in the South. 
 

The best biscuits in the USA are served at Cindy’s Restaurant in Molalla Oregon and their gravy is fantastic. 
 

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>Biscuits are now as common an inexpensive staple bread in southern diets as bagels or kaiser rolls are in New York, but for generations of rural, working-class southerners, they were a luxurious treat. “When my grandmother in western North Carolina said bread, she meant cornbread,” Phillips told me. “The biscuits were a special thing. We’d have them on Sundays.” <

 

Back around '65 or 6 we was going to Atlanta to see Grandma. Stopped off in Cuthbert to spend a little bit of time with two of Daddy's aunts. Got there about 9 in the morning and they had not cleaned off the breakfast table. They offered to feed us, and one of them took the plate of biscuits off the table and went and got a loaf of light bread. Biscuits was "ever day". Store bought bread was special - for comp'ny.

 

Daddy told 'em that we boys would appreciate it better if they left the biscuits on the table, 'cause Mama couldn't make biscuits, so we didn't get them at home.

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Back in the day, women made biscuits on practically a daily basis out of necessity to feed the family, and they got very good at it. Walmart, McD's and canned biscuits hadn't been invented. You wanted fried chicken you went out and killed one, dressed it, and fried it. Friend of mine told me of an old man he knew that roughnecked until he was 77. Every morning at 0 dark 30 his wife made him hot biscuits, butter, and molasses. Then the guys came along and gave him a ride to the rig. Hot or cold, rain or shine, threw tongs on the deck until he was 77.

JHC :o

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I'm not sure I buy the theory of biscuit making. I think it has to do more with skill and practice, trial and error. My grandmother, mother, and aunts could make some pretty mean biscuits. They were children of the Depression and I'm sure they bought the cheapest flour they could find.

JHC

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It wuz them BISCUITS made him tough!

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1 hour ago, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:

 

 

The best biscuits in the USA are served at Cindy’s Restaurant in Molalla Oregon and their gravy is fantastic. 
 

Thanks Pat, I couldn't recall where you said that was.  I need to try that one of these days.  It's not that far from here, you know.

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I think our favorite biscuits tend to be those we grew up with.  

 

Me, I have a partiality for the zillion layers of a Pilsbury biscuit from an exploding can, cause that’s what we had at both Grandma’s and our house.  In bachelor-hood, Hardee’s biscuits took over because I could buy them one at a time, which was all I needed. 

 

Then an I got married, and my wife, among her many attributes, is an amazing cook.  Including homemade breads.

Edited by Charlie Harley, #14153
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Both my grandmothers were from West Virginia.  Both made biscuits every morning every day.   Both of them did the same thing they had a warm frying pan with bacon grease melted on the stove.  After they cut the biscuits out they lightly covered both side with bacon grease before they put them in the oven.  Man were they great, after all these years I still remember what they tasted like.  My mom could never make good biscuits and admitted it.

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Canned bisquits are anything but bisquits.  The closest to home made I've found at Sam's.   24 bisquits on a carboard tray covered by wrap.  Only problem I have is salt and every bisquit will add 5 lbs of weight.  

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1 hour ago, Charlie Harley, #14153 said:

Me, I have a partiality for the zillion layers of a Pilsbury biscuit from an exploding can, cause that’s what we had at both Grandma’s and our house.

 

I like them because they are quick, easy, somewhat satisfying, and a great vehicle for butter, honey, jam, or jelly.  But to me they have little flavor and no texture.  Kind of like breadish flavored cotton candy.  They are also good for making filled treats.  Flatten them, put a dollop of whatever you want to wrap in a dough, seal and bake or fry.  

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Interesting discussion. When I read the article, I felt it was an advertisement for White Lily flour disguised as an interesting story.

 

Flour by region might have been a thing years ago but with the way grain is shipped today it would be hard to know if a rail car that arrives at the mill was hard or soft wheat or most likely a blend of both. II suspect that flour mills determine the mix by  lab analysis as each batch arrives at the mill. They may also contract with some growers to produce the varieties they are looking for.

 

As SDJ pointed out how much or little you work the ingredients has a huge impact on the final product. This is what I was taught by both my grandmothers. I can still hear them admonishing me for over mixing a batter or dough. Before I graduated high school I sought out the cooking experts in my family and had them teach me the basics.

 

I am still amazed by people that are happy to over pay for cold and poorly prepared meals that most restaurants serve today. Especially when it comes to hamburgers and other foods that contain beef. The ultra lean beef used by 99% of all establishments is about as flavorful as ground paste board. Yet people rant and rave about the food prepared with it.


 

Quote

 

Here is a brief explanation of the characteristics of each variety.

 

Since its domestication in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago, wheat has become the most popular cereal grain in the world. Farmers around the world plant it on more of the Earth's surface than any other crop. Although there are several wheat varieties grown around the world, they fall into two essential categories with distinct properties: hard wheat and soft wheat.

 

Hard Red Winter

Hard Red Winter wheat is the most popular variety of wheat in the United States and accounts for about 40 percent of U.S. production. It has a high protein content and is a common ingredient in breads and all-purpose flour. Like all winter wheat, it is planted in the fall and harvested in early summer. In general, hard wheat has higher gluten and protein content and is preferred for leavening.

 

Durum

Durum is the hardest of all U.S. wheat varieties. It offers both a high protein and gluten content and is the chief ingredient in the semolina flour that makes up premium pastas. It also is well-suited as the base ingredient in Mediterranean breads. Durum is planted in the spring and can be either white or red. Though its benefits as a high-protein wheat are beneficial as a staple food, durum requires more milling than its softer cousins.

 

Hard Springs

Two wheat varieties, white and red, are both hard and harvested in fall. Hard red wheat is the hardest of all wheat varieties but is not grown in the United States. Hard red spring wheat is prized for breads, hard baked goods, all-purpose flour and flour blends. The hard white variety yields a medium protein content and is similar to red wheat. It offers a sweet flavor and is used in breads, hard rolls, tortillas, oriental noodles, whole wheat and all-purpose flowers and brewing.

 

Soft Varieties

There are two major soft wheat varieties: soft red winter and soft white wheat. Soft red winter has a low protein content and is used as a blend in multipurpose flours, and for cookies, cakes, donuts and other fine pastries as well as flat breads, and crackers. Soft white is a low-protein wheat that offers high yields. It provides a lighter flour for cakes, crackers, cookies, pastries and it suits Middle Eastern flat breads.

 

 

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53 minutes ago, Subdeacon Joe said:

They are also good for making filled treats.  Flatten them, put a dollop of whatever you want to wrap in a dough, seal and bake or fry.  

I've got a book somewhere where the girl is talking about making a dessert she called fruit and dumplings. She'd stew some fruit in sugar water, and while it was heating she would roll out some dough and slice it up. Throw the slices in the boiling sugar water and let the dumplings cook. She said that if you could not make the dough correctly, or if you did not have the time, just open up a can of whop biscuits and slice them up. They made good dumplings.

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Pilsbury's frozen Grands are pretty good, nice thing is you can cook one or two if that's all you want, but pricey. You also don't dare let them thaw at all and refreeze or you'll have to have a jackhammer to get them apart! I can make pretty decent biscuits with Pioneer mix, it's just too big a mess and too much trouble for me. I don't play well with flour, I usually manage to get it all over the house.

JHC

Edited by Capt. James H. Callahan
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11 hours ago, Pat Riot, SASS #13748 said:

McDonald’s makes pretty good biscuits and they’re nationwide. ;)

Yep, I said it and I hate McDonald’s but their biscuits are good. And their biscuits and gravy is good too. Of course they don’t have class enough to sell their biscuits and gravy anywhere but in the South. 
 

The best biscuits in the USA are served at Cindy’s Restaurant in Molalla Oregon and their gravy is fantastic. 
 

 

It's all pre-measured.  They dump a pack of dry ingredients or 2 into a bowl, chip in a block or two of shortening  and then mix in the buttermilk as measured by the half gallon carton.  Once it's mixed, they roll it out with a rolling pin with guides on the ends that keeps them from making the dough too thin and cut it out with a biscuit cutter.

 

Speaking of fast food breakfasts, did Carl, Jr add Hardee's breakfast to their menu after the buyout/merger? 

 

If not, then we Southerners came out way ahead on the deal because Hardee's lunch is much better than it used to be.

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21 minutes ago, Smuteye John SASS#24774 said:

 

It's all pre-measured.  They dump a pack of dry ingredients or 2 into a bowl, chip in a block or two of shortening  and then mix in the buttermilk as measured by the half gallon carton.  Once it's mixed, they roll it out with a rolling pin with guides on the ends that keeps them from making the dough too thin and cut it out with a biscuit cutter.

 

Speaking of fast food breakfasts, did Carl, Jr add Hardee's breakfast to their menu after the buyout/merger? 

 

If not, then we Southerners came out way ahead on the deal because Hardee's lunch is much better than it used to be.

Doesn’t matter. Their biscuits are damn good. 
 

Now, as for Hardee’s, I don’t know about Carl’s adding Hardee’s breakfast but Hardee’s did improve their food. Hardee’s biscuits were really good when have had them. 

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42 minutes ago, Smuteye John SASS#24774 said:

...we Southerners came out way ahead on the deal because Hardee's lunch is much better than it used to be.

When was this buyout?

 

In high school in the early seventies, were you would "hurry on down to Hardee's where the burgers are charcoal broiled", they had good food.

 

In the early 90s Hardee's had bought Roy Rogers, and were now serving chicken. And they had good food.

 

In the early 2000s, after the Jack-in-the-Box Ebola thing, Hardee's hamburgers I had the distinct texture and flavor of charcoal briquettes.

 

I haven't eaten Hardee's in a good 15 years. The food is just -- nasty.

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They went back to the broiler and brought in Carl's line of hamburgers after the merger.  I'd rather have a Hardee's burger than one from the King or the Clown any day.

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Bob Evans biscuits with sausage gravy at a restuarant with a good manager who ensures that biscuits never sit more than 30 minutes in a warmer before throwing them out.

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3 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Flour by region might have been a thing years ago but with the way grain is shipped today it would be hard to know if a rail car that arrives at the mill was hard or soft wheat or most likely a blend of both.

 

It was about 10 or 12 years ago that I read up on it, articles about how and why companies had trouble selling in one region flour that went like a house on fire in others.  It came down to the blend of the wheat.    The all purpose (AP) flour in the south has a higher percentage of soft wheat than the AP flour in New England, and both are different than the AP flour in California.  Once people in a region get used to something it is hard for something that gives different, sometimes very different, results to make inroads.  Look at the Hellmans v. Duke mayo thing.  And do you think Best Foods could have any significant share of the market where Duke is king?

 If the mills don't know exactly what they are getting with each load some Purchasing Agent isn't doing his job.  

 

3 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

I am still amazed by people that are happy to over pay for cold and poorly prepared meals that most restaurants serve today. Especially when it comes to hamburgers and other foods that contain beef. The ultra lean beef used by 99% of all establishments is about as flavorful as ground paste board. Yet people rant and rave about the food prepared with it.

 

That's why we don't often eat out, and then only for things that we would have to buy a bunch of ingredients we would seldom use.  Say for Indian or any decent oriental foods.  Or pizza - home ovens just don't get hot enough.  The cost factor is also why we don't order pasta if we go out - a bucks worth of ingredients for $15 or more.  Ditto for pancakes if we go out to breakfast.
Another "ultra lean" meat we don't order is beef tenderloin.  Yes, usually wonderfully tender, but to give it any flavor they wrap it in bacon and smother it with a highly seasoned sauce.  
I also get a chuckle out of people who snub chuck because "It has too much fat!" but then pay a premium for a well marbled piece that has had all the big chunks of fat around the edges trimmed off but is still fattier than chuck.

 

32 minutes ago, Smuteye John SASS#24774 said:

It's all pre-measured.  They dump a pack of dry ingredients or 2 into a bowl, chip in a block or two of shortening  and then mix in the buttermilk as measured by the half gallon carton.

 

In other words, they use self rising (SR) flour.  Other than scale that isn't really different than many southern home kitchens.  I don't know how many Southern Kitchen Cookbooks or Southern Cooking blogs call for SR flour for biscuits, griddle cakes, and some baked goods.  
About 12 years ago I asked my wife to pick up more flour because I wanted to make bread.  She came back with SR rather than AP, at which I ranted for about 30 seconds.  Then I got my head straight and saw it as a learning experience.  What said I had to make a yeast bread?  Biscuits, quick breads, griddle cakes galore.   Just DO NOT use SR flour when you make a yeast bread.  Just...don't...

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I make great biscuit.  So easy!

 

 

Grands!™ Southern Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits from ...

 

I also use a can of Pillsbury biscuit fixin's to make a great Chicken and Dumplings.  Be sure and get the Buttermilk Grands!

 

Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 cartons (32 oz) chicken broth (4 to 8 cups)
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded cooked chicken (about 1 1/2 lb)
  • 1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Southern Homestyle refrigerated Buttermilk biscuits (8 biscuits)
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of baby carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped

Steps

1.  In 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven, heat broth, chicken, soup and poultry seasoning to boiling over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Increase heat to medium-high; return to a low boil.
2.  On floured surface, roll or pat each biscuit to 1/8-inch thickness; cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
3.  Drop strips, one at a time, into boiling chicken mixture. Add carrots and celery.
4.  Reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.
 
Notes: 
- This simple recipe is so good. 
- Some of the ingredients are within a range, depending on how much chicken you want or how thick you want the broth. 
- I like a lot of flour around my dumplings to keep them from sticking together, but the additional flour also thickens the broth.
- Careful.  This is lip smacking good!!!
^_^
Edited by Birdgun Quail, SASS #63663
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3 hours ago, Capt. James H. Callahan said:

Pilsbury's frozen Grands are pretty good, nice thing is you can cook one or two if that's all you want, but pricey. You also don't dare let them thaw at all and refreeze or you'll have to have a jackhammer to get them apart! I can make pretty decent biscuits with Pioneer mix, it's just too big a mess and too much trouble for me. I don't play well with flour, I usually manage to get it all over the house.

JHC

I use Grands frozen "southern style"biscuits.  They aren't great but they're tolerable, easy, and quick when I'm in a hurry.  Pour some good sausage gravy ( I like mine so thick I can sculpt it) over them, or butter and honey, or sorghum syrup.  They'll do for those days I'm just too lazy to make 'em from scratch.

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4 hours ago, Capt. James H. Callahan said:

Pilsbury's frozen Grands are pretty good, nice thing is you can cook one or two if that's all you want, but pricey. You also don't dare let them thaw at all and refreeze or you'll have to have a jackhammer to get them apart!

 

Repackage them as soon as you get them home.  Especially if you have some sort of vacuum sealer.  You can also get most of the air out using zip lock bags and and a bowl of water.  Put the food into the bag, zip it most of the way closed, submerge all but the open corner in the water.  Water pressure will force the air out, then finish closing the bag.  

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Dad was the gunnery officer on a destroyer in the South Pacific, mom was a Red Cross and Traveler's Aid volunteer so I was raised and fed by black servants. Flour with cut shortening, patted and baked.  :)

 

The best sausage gravy is at my house. Next is at Hoot Owl in Sandpoint, Idaho. I prefer to make my own biscuits BUT since I am alone, Grands do just fine in a pinch!  :-)  :P

 

I have several dutch ovens. My 20" and my three 16"s have baked thousands of biscuits for Scouts, SASS matches and hunters, especially those packing for elk. I only use the 14s, 12s, 10s, 8s and 6s for small groups. :rolleyes:

 

On occasion, I have filled my DOs with canned versions. Cold, starving kids and hunters never complain!!!  ^_^ I have no complaints from the SASS pards either.:D

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I had a great aunt who made scratch biscuits pretty much every day.  It was amazing to watch.  IIRC, she used shortening and self rising flower and probably something else like salt or baking soda.  She tried to teach it to anyone who wanted to learn, but it was all done by feel so I don't think anyone else ever mastered it. 

 

When I first met my wife, she used to make us biscuits every saturday and sunday.  Those were the only biscuits I ever had better than Aunt Dorothy's.  Once we got married, the biscuit making stopped.  I know it stopped because she went on keto diet.  But I still miss them biscuits.  It's really a shame for such talent to be laid by the wayside.  She was a good breadmaker too.  Can't beat home made sourdough bread or home made bagels.  The bagels are a lot of work but well worth it for those of us who don't have to do it. 

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2 hours ago, Snake River Clay SASS #34984 said:

Maybe you can't get decent biscuits in New York, but you can't get great pizza anywhere else. 

Not Hardly. Them's fighten words. Chicago deep dish, and a million little mom and pop thin crust pizza places all across the country. ;)

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5 hours ago, Snake River Clay SASS #34984 said:

Maybe you can't get decent biscuits in New York, but you can't get great pizza anywhere else. 

Obviously you never had pizza at Famous Pizza, on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. 

Don't know if they are still around, but back in the Day, that was gooooooood pizza. 

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5 hours ago, Snake River Clay SASS #34984 said:

Maybe you can't get decent biscuits in New York, but you can't get great pizza anywhere else. 

 

Bull, plenty of great pizza in Florida. In case you forgot, half of the New Yorker's that came down here opened up pizza shops. Some of them are damn good.

 

Back to the biscuits, went to Hardees on the way to the match today and had the biscuits and gravy in Groveland, Fl. It wasn't homemade by any stretch but it was pretty good this morning. Always a bunch of good ole boys in there for customers and they know how to make the biscuits and gravy. Never ordered biscuits and gravy while north of the Mason-Dixon, figured it would be like ordering grits. The many times that I've ordered grits up north, either they didn't have them or they were terrible or worse....instant. Yuck.

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On 2/15/2020 at 1:21 AM, Capt. James H. Callahan said:

I'm not sure I buy the theory of biscuit making. I think it has to do more with skill and practice, trial and error.

I agree with this because I can't make good biscuits - or yeast bread.   If I have to put my hands on the dough, I will overwork it & get Yankee biscuits every time.  I do, however, believe in White Lily all-purpose flour.

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21 hours ago, Yellowhouse Sam # 25171 said:

Canned bisquits are anything but bisquits.  The closest to home made I've found at Sam's.   24 bisquits on a carboard tray covered by wrap.  Only problem I have is salt and every bisquit will add 5 lbs of weight.  

When we first joined the Sams here in Sacramento they had the tray of biscuits. I would grab a ray and throw them in the freezer, as they were the best I could find next to my Grandmothers. But after a couple of years they changed their inventory and they haven''t been seen since. Questions to management about getting them back seemed to fall on deaf ears.  Do NOT like canned biscuits.  But I will say that the 7-up biscuits are dang amazing!!

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