Ever stood in the supermarket aisle and wondered what on earth the difference between all the different oat varieties was? I did, so I set out to find some answers.
First things first… all oats start off as oat groats. To help boost their shelf life, all oat groats are usually roasted at a low temperature before they are processed, packaged and sent to market. What eventuates are the following varieties:
STEEL CUT OATS
Steel cut oats are made by chopping the whole oat groat into several pieces. Steel-cut oats look almost like rice that’s been cut into pieces and tend to maintain their texture even throughout cooking.
Also known as whole oats or ‘old fashioned’ oats, rolled oats look like flat, some where between circle to oval shaped discs. To roll an oat, oat grains are first steamed, then pressed (rolled) to flatten them. According to experts, rolled oats cook faster than steel-cut oats and absorb more liquid. Rolled oats also have a simple nutty flavour that we all know and love.
Also referred to as quick oats, instant oats are the most processed. They are pre-cooked, dried, and then rolled and pressed slightly thinner than traditional rolled oats. They cook more quickly, but retain less of their texture, and often cook up mushy. You’ll often find these in the individual servings of microwavable oats (alongside a whole lot of added sugar to help disguise the texture).
SIDE NOTE: Just know that when I’m in a rush, I pre-soak my rolled oats the night before cooking them (pop in a bowl of water and leave uncovered on the bench) – this at least halves the stove-top cooking time. If you’re going to use instant oats, opt for stove-top preparation and skip the microwave (I’ll explain more at a later date).
WHICH ONE SHOULD I CHOOSE?
According to Uncle Toby’s: “All Oats, whether steel cut, rolled or quick style, have the same nutritional benefits” however, I’m yet to see the data. But if we bring it back to basics, obviously the less processed your oats the better.