Simple Pleasures: Steel Cut Oats

By , October 14, 2012

Even as an avid “granola cruncher,” I have to admit that there are few meals more homely—in the archaic, more positive sense of that term—than a bowl of hot oatmeal.

At some point we started eating oatmeal of steel cut oats instead of rolled oats. Also known as Irish or Scottish oatmeal, steel cut oats are whole oats scored slightly by the milling process, rather than being flattened and rolled, as is more common now. The less processed oats make a heartier meal.

Steel cut oats must have lost out to rolled oats because they take longer to cook. “Instant” oatmeal comes from rolled oats. We’ve found that the extra time it might take to prepare isn’t excessive. We originally developed tricks for reducing the cooking time that we no longer bother to use; here on the homestead we have the time to prepare a morning meal without the need to rush off to do something else.

We prepare steel cut oats in a 1:3 ratio to water. We find that 2 cups of oats in 6 cups of water makes breakfast for three for 2-3 days.

We set the water to boil, adding a generous sprinkle of salt and a pat of butter or splash of peanut or Canola oil. We add the oats soon after the water’s set on the heat; the extra soaking doesn’t hurt at all. Originally, we’d even soak the oats in the water overnight for cereal the next day. We’ve since found that’s not necessary, but it helps those used to softer oatmeal.

When the water comes to a boil, we lower the heat and let it simmer until the cereal thickens to the right consistency. We listen for the bubbling water to begin “glopping” in the pot.

We like to eat it with butter and brown sugar or homemade syrup—spruce, currant, and highbush cranberry are favorites.

Leftovers are easy: we simply add a generous splash of water and reheat.

Today is Winter Day. If your weather’s turning colder like ours, what better way to begin it than with a nice hot bowl of steel cut oatmeal?

2 Responses to “Simple Pleasures: Steel Cut Oats”

  1. Nance says:

    I still have to rush off to work each day so will use that as my excuse for still eating Instant Oatmeal. Just started eating a brand that has Flax Seed mixed in. It isn’t as sweet as the nationally known Instant Oatmeal but still flavored with Maple and Brown Sugar. I’m trying to get away from prepared food and hope to someday soon! I remember oatmeal from my childhold. I wouldn’t have wanted to eat my Mama’s oatmeal leftover the next day. How do you reheat yours? or how do you prepare it?

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Nance,

    Please don’t think that my enthusiasm for steel cut oats leads me to look down on instant oatmeal at all! I mean, I prefer chocolate cake to lemon, but I’d never refuse lemon because I can’t have chocolate!

    I’d not known about the kind with flax seed, but I definitely believe in adding flax seed to cereal. Good, and good for you, that kind of thing.

    We reheat oatmeal by adding a splash of water and heating it on the wood stove or gas stove. We need to keep on top of it to prevent scorching, but it turns out well.

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