How to cook oats
For rolled oats, I prefer the method of essentially steaming the oats, leaving them with just the right amount of texture, which I learned from Megan Gordon’s cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings.
For steel cut oats, I prefer 1 cup oats to 3 cups liquid and a pinch of salt, simmered for 15 minutes and left to sit for 5 minutes. Whole oat groats get the pasta-cooking treatment: bring water to a boil, add the oats, and cook until tender; up to 60 minutes.
How to use oats
Oatmeal serves as a hearty breakfast base that be made with sweet or savory toppings. I also like to use whole oat groats in salads, stews, and grain bowls. Rolled oats are handy to have on hand for baked goods as well.
How to store oats
Oats, whether the whole grain, rolled or flour, is best stored in airtight containers in a cool place. Oats can be stored up to a year in the freezer 6 months in the pantry. Oats flour is best stored in the freezer and will last up to 6 months. If the grains or flour have a rancid smell when you open the bag, toss and buy fresh.
Whole groats (hulled)
Oats are one of my five pantry staples that we always have on hand. While I grew up on instant oatmeal, I’ve fallen in love with the different varieties and taste of true oats (and oatmeal!) Buying oats takes a bit of care because of the higher fat content, which means oats have the ability to go rancid more quickly than some other grains. Also, many times oats are processed in facility with wheat. If you’re looking for gluten-free oats, make sure the package is labeled as such.
There are many types of oat products that you can explore:
Oat Groats: The whole grain; the groats are the result after the inedible hull has been removed from the kernel.
Steel Cut Oats: These are simply groats that have been chopped a few times with a steel blade; still considered a whole grain. These cook a bit faster than oat groats and have a creamy texture.
Old-fashioned Oat Flakes (Rolled Oats): Made by steaming the oat groats and rolling them flat. Because no material leaves the oat groats, rolled oats are still whole grains.
Quick Cooking Oats: Rolled oats that have been cooked for longer and pressed a little thinner. They cook quicker but still have the same nutrients of rolled oats.
Buying oats takes a bit of care because of the higher fat content, which means oats have the ability to go rancid more quickly than some other grains. Also, many times oats are processed in facility with wheat. If you’re looking for gluten-free oats, make sure the package is labeled as such.
An important note: I’m choosing to ignore instant oatmeal. It’s the most highly processed of all the oat products and often contains extra chemicals and sugars. Rolled oats really don’t take a lot of extra energy/cooking time and still have a good chunk of their nutrients!
Flour: One of my favorite things to do is to blitz old-fashioned oats in a food processor, creating oat flour, which is great for pancakes. It’s one of my favorite gluten-free flours, relatively inexpensive, and can be used on its own or in flour blends.