Oats bring back fond memories of growing up with my grandparents. Every morning my grandmother would get up and fix multiple breakfasts. Yes multiple breakfasts. She would cook my grandfather’s breakfast and then each of us kids would make our way into the kitchen…our options would be a huge bowl of Oatmeal, a bowl of Cream of Wheat or eggs and toast. I can still image breakfast, if I close my eyes. Those were the days.
Oats can be planted in autumn for a late summer harvest or in the spring for an early autumn harvest. The United States was listed 5th in the world in 2013 for growing oats. Most people think of Oats as oatmeal, while the most common use is livestock feed. All oats start out as an oat groat. Oat groat is just the whole
unbroken grain of the oat. Oat groat can also be called “cleaned oats” because only the outer hull has been removed during the milling. Oat groats are usually roasted; this process gives them a nice toasty flavor.
This process also affects the enzyme in the oat groats; it becomes inactive which helps in the oats from going rancid quickly. Whole groats are more available these days with all the health stores. Groats are processed into several kinds of oats: Steel-Cut oats, Rolled oats, Old-Fashioned oats, Quick oats, and Instant oats.
Important terms to remember when dealing with oats….
Groats: whole unbroken grain
Cleaned Oats just another name for Oat grout.
Note: Whole Oats are the oat with hull and all. If the outer hull is still intact, most generally then use the oats for sprouting....otherwise I would use it for feed for the animals.
Types of Oats:
- 1. Steel-cut Oats: (also called Scotch oats, Irish oatmeal or pinhead oats) The groat is split into several pieces and is unrefined and closely resembles the natural oat grain. Simmer the steel-cut oats with water and it will make porridge. Substitute: Whole Oat Groats
3. Old-Fashioned Oats: are actually the same as Rolled Oats, sometimes called Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
4. Quick or Quick-Cooking Oats: These have been cut into pieces and then pressed slightly thinner than Rolled / Old-Fashioned Oats. Cook quicker – about 5 minutes, but retain less of their texture.
Substitute: Rolled Oats or Instant Oats
5. Instant Oats: Instant oats are made with cut groats. These oats have been precooked and dried before being rolled. They cook the quickest of all. Substitute: Quick Oats
How much Oats do I need in my food storage? Around 25 lbs. of oats per adult per year.
Quality and Purchase: Oats can go rancid quicker than other grains, due to a slightly higher fat content. So purchase in smaller quantities at a time. One can normally purchase oats in prepackaged containers as well as in bulk. When purchasing in bulk from bins make sure the bins are covered, free from debris and that the store has a good product turnover. One to tell if the oats are fresh, smell them. Make sure
there is no moisture! Again there are many places to purchase your oats...make sure to check out your local farmers, local Amish (if you have any in your area), the LDS Cannery (if one is local)
Note: If purchasing oats for long term food storage, do not purchase oatmeal that contains salt, sugar or other additives, this could effect the storage life.
Packaging: For long-term storage oats should be sealed in airtight containers such as #10 cans or buckets with Mylar lining or Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. When it comes to storing Oats, It is recommend
Quick Oats or Rolled / Regular Oats.
Storage conditions: The temperature for grain storage is the cooler the better, 40 F – 70 F degrees.
Shelf Life: Again….Rotate, Rotate, Rotate.....with any of your food storage you need to develop a program to rotate your supplies on a regular basis. First in first out.....in others words as you use your stored oat replace it with new oats. Label each container with product and storage date. Commercial sealed Oats for home storage can last up to 25 to 30 years unopened and 1 year once opened. If processed by you then most experts believe 8 years sealed in an airtight container and 1 year once opened. And if purchased small quantities in sealed packaged then go by their expiration date on the package.
Important Health fact: Oatmeal is the only food that naturally contains GLA (gamma linolenic acid) an essential fatty acid critical to the body's production of the favorable eicosanoids (PGE1 - prostaglandins). Oatmeal has been proven to lower cholesterol, reducing the risk for heart disease.
Use from storage: Oat flour preparation at home – Yes, you can purchase oat flour but why would you? Anyone can grind for personal use by pulsing rolled oats or old-fashioned oats in a food processor or spice
Tips for Preparing and Cooking: Different types of oats require slightly different cooking methods. For all types, it is best to add the oats to cold water and then cook at a simmer. One cup of dry oat groats yields
approximately three 1 cup servings of cooked groats. To cook more or less than this serving amount, use a 2 to 1 ratio of water to dry oat groats. Rolled oats and steel-cut oats require similar proportions using two parts water to one part oats. Rolled oats take approximately 15 minutes to cook while the steel-cut variety takes about 30 minutes. Cooked oat groats complement a number of garnishes. If you prefer a savory porridge, add garlic to the cooking groats. Sprinkle with herbs such as rosemary, sage or thyme. For a sweet cereal, add brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon and/or fruit to cooked groats.
How to make your own Rolled Oats from Oat Groats
Things you’ll need:
- Whole oat groats
- Rolling Pin
Instructions: Turn the groats into rolled oats
- Measure the amount of whole oat groats you want to use
- Measure cold water, providing for three times the amount of water as the amount of groats. Add the groats to the water.
- Boil the groats and water mixture until the water is absorbed. Whole oats normally take about 45 to 50 minutes to cook
- Put the groats on a hard surface. Then use a rolling pin to flatten them out. As they dry they will turn into flakes.
Instructions: Cooking the rolled oats into oatmeal
- Measure the amount of rolled oats you want to make into oatmeal.
- Add two parts cold water to one part rolled oats.
- Simmer until the texture is to your liking. It takes rolled oats around five to 15 minutes to cook on a stove top.
- Add your favorite fruit and nuts and enjoy.
With any food storage items if they are not kept in ideal storage conditions or if kept pass the recommend storage shelf life then consumption is at your own risk.