Knowing Your Oats


Some of us have a limited knowledge about the kinds of oats available to us.  Oats are a very nutritious way to begin your day, or even end it.  Sometimes instant oatmeal that comes in packets, is so overly processed and filled with sugar and other sweeteners, that it defeats the purpose of eating a healthy meal of oats.  The varieties are all made from the same grain, but are processed in ways that affect the consistency and cooking times of each.  Listed are the main varieties of oats and their descriptions.

  • Whole oat groats – These are the least processed that can be made into oatmeal. The hull is removed from the whole oat and grain, germ, bran, and endosperm are left.  These take longest to cook of all the oats and must be soaked first.
  • Instant oatmeal –Here the groats are cut into small pieces, steamed and rolled out very flat. They barely need to be cooked–just pour very hot or boiling water over them and they’re ready to eat. They seem to be a childhood favorite.
  • Old fashioned oats – They’re slow cooking, rolled oats. The whole groat has been steamed and rolled to make a flake. Although they’re labeled “slow cooking”, they are faster to prepare than whole oat groats, Scottish oats or steel cut oats.
  • Quick oats– These are rolled out to make flatter oats than old fashioned and steamed for a longer amount of time. The texture is mushier after they’re cooked.
  • Steel cut– They’re whole oat groats that have been chopped into pieces and are just as nutritious as groats. The added benefit is that they cook more quickly than whole oat groats.
  • Scottish oats– They’re almost the same as steel cut oats, except they’re ground and not chopped into pieces. Their consistency is porridge-like.

Now that you know more about the different varieties of oats, go make yourself a warm bowl of them!


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