Oats are a highly nutritious cereal grain commonly associated with breakfast. They’re also used extensively as an “extender” for baked goods, although their pronounced nutty flavor is a delicious enhancement to foods ranging from cookies
. Surprisingly, the majority of this crop is processed for animal feed with a small percentage remaining for human consumption.
Hundreds of oat species are divided between “summer” and “winter” classifications, which depends on the region where they are grown. The plant is hardy, thriving in conditions unsuitable to its companion grains (wheat and corn). The hull is always removed, but typically the germ and bran remain intact for processing.
Oat Groats – These are the original grains and do not undergo the flattening process. Requires a lengthy cooking time.
Old-Fashioned or Rolled Oats – Groats that have been steamed and then placed through rollers.
Steel-Cut Oats – Slivered by steel blades before processing. Called Irish oatmeal, pinhead, or Scotch oats.
Quick Oats – Rolled oats that have been steamed, then sliced (or flaked) and rolled for faster cooking.
Instant Oats – Originate with steel-cut oats. After slicing, they are rolled and partially cooked. Oatmeal is made from instant, quick, or rolled oats and may be ground to consistencies of “coarse,” “medium,” or “fine.” Instant varieties may also be flavored.
Oat Bran – Made from the layers surrounding the kernel, excluding the hull. Rolled oats contain the bran, but this product is also sold separately.
Oat Flour – Due to low gluten levels, must be used with flour for baked goods that rise. Its finest quality is providing extended freshness in foods.
Most oat products will have a longer shelf life when frozen. They contain more fat than other grains, but are also higher in antioxidants, which will offset rancidity.
At room temperature, containers should be airtight and moisture-free.
• Do not use instant oats in a recipe unless specifically required. Old-fashioned and quick oats, however, are usually interchangeable.
• Grind rolled oats for homemade flour.
• For baked goods that need to rise, use a ratio of one cup oat flour to three cups all-purpose or wheat flour.
• Use any grain for baking or cereal.
Try one of our favorite oat recipes: