Wednesday, July 15, 2009


In the last few days I have learned a lot about oats. For example: whole oats are called groats. Not impressed? Fine. Here are the main "styles" of processed oats:

  • Rolled oats: steam-rolled flat. I think the most popular style.
  • Steel-cut oats: each groat is cut (by steel, I guess) into a few pieces. Sometimes called Irish oats.
  • Quick Oats: the oats are steel cut and then steam rolled, even flatter than rolled oats, reducing cooking time (hence the name).
Why have I become a scholar of oats? This week Judy brought us a 20kg bag of rolled oats and a 20kg bag of quick oats, both from the Can-Oat mill in Manola, and each costing about $25. While Lisa and I are pushing shopping carts through organic grocery stores and reading labels to try and find local food, Judy is hitting the highway and visiting industrial milling operations and talking to farmers.

As dry goods, our oats will keep for months, as long as we store them in a cool, dry place. Regardless of how well they keep, the simple fact that there is almost a hundred pounds of oats in my house has made me anxious to start figuring out how I can use them. Hence the oat research.

The first information I came across was historical. Several sources that I consulted had a quote from Samuel Johnson's dictionary, which defines oats as a grain "which in England is generally given to horses, but which in Scotland supports the people." Apparently the common Scottish reply went something like, "That's why England produces such fine horses, and Scotland such fine men."

Eventually I found some practical information on consuming large amounts of oats. Here are the down and dirty, super-simple recipes in which I plan to eat my bounty.

Homemade granolaBasic Granola Recipe

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup cold-pressed canola oil
  • pinch of salt
Combine all the ingredients and mix with a spatula. Spread evenly on a parchment-lined tray and bake at 325F. Watch the oats around the very edges of the pan. When they are just starting to brown (about eight minutes), remove the tray from the oven. Flip and redistribute the oats as best you can, then return the tray to the oven until, once again, the oats on the perimeter start to brown (roughly another four minutes). Watch carefully: they'll burn quickly. At this point the oats will feel soft and moist, but as they cool they will become crisp. That's just the base. Add dried fruit, nuts, spices, and dairy products as you see fit. I like mine in yoghurt, with dried saskatoons.

Basic Porridge Recipe
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
Combine ingredients in bowl and cook in microwave until milk as been absorbed by oats. Stir to distribute honey. If you're feeling wild you can throw some rolled oats in for more texture.


  1. Hey, Allan,
    I missed this on my first read of your blog. It tickled my funny bone. So... How many pounds do you have left?? I know I still have lots left from the few containers that I kept. Judy wait until I get back from Saskatchewan with quinoa.
    Judy Z.

  2. So, starting with 44lbs of each, almost exactly a year later we still have 35lbs of quick oats, but only 15lbs of rolled oats.

    We've been eating granola pretty regularly. Porridge I find less appealing, so the quick oats are going slowly.