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Chemistry Lesson – From Groats to Oats

April 3, 2015

I have quite a lot of different types of oats on hand and often wonder about their differences and which you can substitute for the other. I recall Jim finding out the hard way that not all oats are created equal in his rare attempt to make a dessert, one of his more favorite cookies a No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie which turned out to be one giant cookie.

Oats start as an oat groat. A groat is the whole unbroken grain of oat or a grain kernel. Groats are usually roasted at a low temperature before they are made into another variety of oat. The roasting process inactivates the enzyme that would otherwise cause the oats to go bad; therefore, making oats have a lengthier shelf life.

Groats are commonly processed into the following types of oats (in order of length of cooking time):

Steel-Cut Oats: Also called Irish oats. These are created when the whole groat is split into two to three pieces by a sharp metal blade. When simmered with water they retain their shape and make a chewy, nutty porridge.
Substitute: Whole Oat Groats, but cooking time will lengthen.

Scotch Oats: Instead of cutting oats with a steel blade like in Steel-Cut Oats, the Scots traditionally stone-grind them, creating broken bits of varying sizes, which results in a creamier porridge than steel-cutting.

Rolled Oats: Whole grains of oats are steamed to make them soft and pliable and then pressed between rollers and dried. These “rolled oats” re-absorb water and cook much quicker than whole groats or steel-cut oats due to their larger surface area, but are slower cooking than Quick and Instant Oats.
Substitute: Old-Fashion Oats are equivalent.  Quick Oats can be substituted, but texture will be lost.

Old-Fashioned Oats: This is the cause of maybe why oats are so confusing. Old-fashioned oats are actually the same as rolled oats.
Substitute: Rolled Oats:)  Quick Oats can be substituted, but texture will be lost.

Quick Oats: These oats have been precooked, dried, and rolled. They are pressed even thinner than rolled oats. Therefore, they cook more quickly, but have less texture.
Substitute: Rolled Oats (Old-Fashion Oats) or Instant Oats

Instant Oats: These oats are pressed even thinner than quick oats. Instant oats often break into a coarse powder. They cook the quickest of all and make a very soft and uniform mush.
Substitute: Quick Oats

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From → Chemistry Lesson

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