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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oats: The nitty gritty

Several months ago, we posted this article about oats. Since we're gathering oats again this month, we're sharing it again. Have questions about oats? Email us, or write a comment!

It seems like there are so many types of oats, and I never know which ones to buy! Let’s break down all the types and see how they are different.

All types of oats are cleaned, hulled, and conditioned, which removes the outer shell (called a hull), leaving the inner kernel or “oat groat”. Then, the groats are heated and become stable for storage. From there, the groats are processed differently depending on what type of oatmeal they are being made into. The type of oats you have (regular, quick, etc) all depends on how thinly the oats were rolled. The thinner the rolling, the quicker the oats cook because of the greater surface area. Makes sense to me!

Regular Oats: These are made by steaming the groats and flattening them with a roller. Old Fashioned Rolled Oats are thinly rolled.

Quick Oats: Quick oats are rolled oats that have been cut into small pieces, then steamed and rolled extremely thinly (more thinly than regular). Because they are so thin, they cook very quickly.

Instant Oats: Instant oatmeal is thinly rolled, then pre-cooked and dried, usually with sweetener and flavor added to it. Just add hot water and stir.

Steel-cut oats (pictured above): Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats which have been cut into only 2 or 3 pieces. They look a bit like small pieces of rice. Many people prefer the taste and texture of steel-cut oats over regular or instant oats. The only real disadvantage of steel-cut oats is that they take a bit longer to cook, and they may be difficult to find in the grocery store. Try looking in health food stores if you can't find it in your regular store.

Both regular and quick oats can be used interchangeably in most recipes – it simply depends on the results you are looking for. If you want something that looks very whole grain and is chewy, you’ll want to use regular oats. Quick oats, on the other hand, are cut smaller and are less noticeable in recipes.

As you gather oats for your longer-term storage, consider how often your family eats it and factor that in. If your family doesn't eat oats often, consider trying them in some different ways - maybe it will be a big hit! I recently started feeding my family oats more often, and I have to say, I pinch of brown sugar goes a long way!

Oats are so healthy, and they store really well, so they are perfect for your food storage!


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