Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oat Groats: Cheap, Tasty, Healthy Breakfast

I'm eating a lot of oat groats these days. I found a source for locally-grown oat groats, but the minimum order was 25 pounds. Oat groats are the least processed of all edible forms of oats, so they store a very long time (some sources are giving them 30 years under the right conditions.) So even though I'd never tasted them before, I decided to give them a try. I figured any minimally-processed food was a good addition to our diet, and even if it took us years to use them up, it'd be okay. And in the meantime if the apocalypse arrived, there'd be something to eat. Win-win-win.

Oh. My. God. This is what oats taste like. I like good old-fashioned oatmeal just fine -- I've eaten it for years, still happy to eat it if that's what's on the table. When I discovered pinhead oats and stone ground oatmeal, though, I realized just how much regular oatmeal had lost in the process of being...well, processed. (Don't speak to me of instant oatmeal. That's not a food.) So it comes as no surprise that getting closer to the whole grain results in an even more interesting taste and texture.

Even so, oat groats were a revelation. If you've never had them, you are missing out. They take a while to cook -- these are not a convenience food -- but they're so worth it. They're nutty, with a firm texture. The cooked grains are bigger than a grain of cooked rice, which along with the chewy texture makes them much more interesting than the soupy-paste of rolled oats and superior even to that of pinhead oats, which up until now I'd thought the pinnacle of oat gastronomy.

And I'm starting to see the 25-pound minimum order as an advantage. I paid $0.65/pound for my oat groats, which works out to about five cents for a 3/4 cup serving. In the morning, I bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add a 1/2 t of salt and a cup (~5 oz) of oat groats and set it over my heat diffuser on the lowest setting on my stove. It barely simmers for 45 minutes and is ready just about the time the rest of the family rolls into the kitchen. Add a splash of milk and you've got breakfast for four. Pretty good for about thirty cents.

Originally posted at Eat.Drink.Better.

11 comments:

Alyssa said...

Where did you find your oat groats? Paying $3.99/package is not cost effective and I can't find them at my local grocery store. I'd love to find a local place.

valereee said...

Hi, Alyssa! I got my oat groats from Stutzmans up near Millersburg (they're at the bottom of the "Evolution of Oats into Non-food" post), but beware -- the shipping was almost as much as the oats! I'm planning to either find a nearer source, buy them when I'm up in that area, or work on cheaper shipping next time!

Alyssa said...

Did you get them at the distributor out of Alliance? My parents live in that area and that means I could swing a trip. Apparently there's also a mill near Orville, now I don't know if they use locally grown grains or not, just an FYI.

valereee said...

Alyssa, yes, the distributor is Walker/VanCampen Foods in Alliance. The contact is Beth Ferch at 877-354-3663.

Wow, if you do decide to do a pick up, we might be able to get a bulk order from the Cincinnati Local Foods Group to help you with your gas cost! LMK!

Alyssa said...

I'm in Columbus, but that would be closer than Alliance. :) I'm not sure if that would be helpful or not though :)

Alyssa said...

Sorry, I'm not sure I made it clear in my last comment, I'm more than happy to help, but I live in Columbus, but I'm also happy to transport if someone wants to come up to Columbus, or I do have friends in Cinci it is possible I'd be making my way down there sometime soon.

Bianca said...

Is it possible to do them in the slow cooker overnight? Alton Brown had a great pinhead oats recipe for the slow cooker and since these cook even longer it seems like they would be ideal.

VerdantSage said...

Hi Valereee,

I'm a newer member of your Cincinnati Local Foods Group. We live in the Maineville/Loveland area and I have family close to Holmes county. We go visit once a month - we're due for a trip in the next couple of weeks. I planned on getting some groats on this trip - if you want to get together a bulk order, I can pick it up. Email me if you're interested.

valereee said...

Alyssa, oh, Columbus -- yeah, that's a bit of a drive! :D Thanks, though!

Bianca, yes, I've done them in the slow cooker overnight! I'm trying to remember if I started them out in hot water or cold. I used my tiniest crockpot -- I think it's called a 'crockette' -- and they were perfect in the morning. I should check out the Alton Brown recipe. If I figure it out, I'll post.

VS, I'll email you, thanks!

Matti Dwyer said...

Just stumbled upon your blog here--So awesome!! I'm working on a big project here, and I was wondering if you could help me?--if nothing else just point me in the right direction . . . I am in a club called FLOF at UC that is trying to localize/sustainify the UC food system. How would you congregate the local producers to provide food for UC?

Valerie Taylor said...

Matti, I'm not finding an email for you anywhere, so I'll have to answer here. Are you asking how to get UC dining halls to purchase directly from local farmers?