Wherein I discover oat groats

And they become my new favorite breakfast

June 11, 2008

When I began the Whole-Grain Challenge earlier this month, I thought perhaps it would help me to find ways to integrate more whole grains into my daily diet. While it has done that, the big surprise to me so far has been my discovery of some entirely new foods: millet, which I have always thought was just for the birds; and farro, which . . . well . . . I always thought was just for the Pharaohs.

But the biggest revelation of all has been oat groats, a simpler variation of one of our most common Western cereal products: the lowly oat.

Though I love souped-up breakfasts such as bacon and eggs, omelets, etc., I try to limit these to special occasions (although my recent reading of In Defense of Food is making me reconsider this). My typical breakfast, which I consume probably 80 percent of the time, is a bowl of granola with milk or yogurt, topped with whatever fresh fruit I can find. I’ve been eating this for years. My major complaint is that I think the makers of my brand of granola sweeten it too much, though I’ve been too lazy to make my own consistently or find an alternative.

Oat Groats
Oat groats

Which brings me back to oat groats. Two weeks ago, if you’d asked me I would have said, “What the hell are oat groats?” I now know: They are oats that have had their hard outer husks removed. Period. That’s it. Done. (Groats are further processed by rolling them with big rollers when “they” make rolled oats for oatmeal, and chopped up when “they” make steel-cut oats.)

But apart from husking, and maybe a light toasting, oat groats are oats in their “wholest” edible form (you’d have to be a goat to like the husks). So if you’re trying to eat more minimally processed foods, they’re a great place to start.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. I came to talk about the draft. (Damn, I like totally forgot to become a folk singer.) I’m here to say I absolutely love oat groats. Putting it nicely, I’ve always been ambivalent about oatmeal, which I find mushy and bland. Oat groats, however, cooked for about 45 minutes in a 3:1 water:groat ratio, are great. Topped with some toasted flaxseeds and walnuts and a splash of milk. No sweetener needed. Nutty. Chewy. Interesting. Healthy. And a welcome break from 20-some years of granola.

Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker
The Neuro Fuzzy

The only downside has been the long cooking time. I’m going to investigate cooking them in my Zojirushi rice cooker, which I can set on a timer the night before. (Our rice cooker — which we call “the Neuro Fuzzy” based on some quasi-technical marketing claims by the manufacturer, is almost a member of the family, its merry tunes part of many a meal.) I promise to report the results soon, with recipes and pictures (yes, 8-by-10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one).

My wife has decided that oat groats are great with a little olive oil and salt, and we heard from a friend who cooks them in batches for the week. Got other ideas for oat groats? Pass ‘em on — don’t bogart those ideas, my friend.

There are 44 comments on this item
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1. by Carrie Floyd on Jun 11, 2008 at 2:45 PM PDT

James, If you can work “oat groat” into a folk song, I promise to buy your first CD. Until then, answer me this: What is the texture of an oat groat like? Cheeewy? More like a wheat berry or a grain of rice?

2. by James Berry on Jun 11, 2008 at 3:08 PM PDT

@carrie As I’ve cooked them, the texture of oat groats is firmer (and more substantial) than rice. You notice the groats almost individually, but they’re not work to chew. They have a satisfying distinctness to them. Wheat berries? Not sure. You’ll just have to try them for yourself I guess.

A song, let’s see: an old goat eating an oat groat — too country. Where have all the Oat Groats gone? Stuck inside of Memphis with the Oat Groat blues again? I won’t quit my day job yet.

3. by Kathryn H on Jun 14, 2008 at 7:34 AM PDT

James, have you tried using a pressure cooker for your groats? It’s a great tool for reducing the cooking time of whole grains--and the new pressure cookers have lots of safety features and are easy to use. You could cook enough groats for a few days and then just reheat at breakfast time.

4. by Geoffrey Wiseman on Jun 16, 2008 at 1:34 PM PDT

How different are they from steel-cut, which I like precisely because they retain that springiness that oatmeal lacks.

5. by James Berry on Jun 18, 2008 at 6:10 AM PDT

@Kathryn: I’m getting interested in pressure cookers again, which harken back to the rattling, scary wonder of my youth. Any brands or models you recommend I look into?

@Geoffrey: I think groats go beyond steel-cut in their texture. Give ‘em a try!

6. by Geoffrey Wiseman on Jun 18, 2008 at 6:21 AM PDT

I’ve been looking into pressure-cookers lately. The Kuhn-Rikon Duromatic gets a lot of good press, so that’s probably what I’ll be doin’.

7. by Kathryn H on Jun 18, 2008 at 6:50 AM PDT

James, I have been using a Fagor pressure cooker for about three years with no problems--it’s not scary, or rattly at all. It is all stainless steel so it cleans up beautifully and looks nice. I love it for beans and grains and for very fast risotto--a trick I learned from Lorna Sass’books. It’s also nice for getting beets and squash cooked quickly.

I have also heard good things about the Kuhn-Rikon pressure cookers.

8. by foxglove on Jun 25, 2008 at 3:58 PM PDT

I’m dying to know how the zojirushi worked out for groats! Do let us know.

9. by James Berry on Jun 26, 2008 at 12:05 PM PDT

@foxglove: I can report that I had success this morning with cooking groats in the zojirushi. My post on the results should go up later on today, I believe.

10. by James Berry on Jun 27, 2008 at 8:50 AM PDT

My post on cooking oat groats in a rice cooker is up: Going to the groats: a pictorial.

11. by Jerry on Jul 24, 2008 at 9:27 PM PDT

I start them the night before. Put in covered pan about 3 to 1 water and oats. Turn off heat just before it starts to boil. Leave on stove until morning. Remove cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and cover for 10 minutes.

12. by Kathy on Feb 15, 2009 at 9:41 PM PST

I’ve been cooking oat groats for several years. Here’s how: Toast 5 cups of oats in a 350 degree oven til they start to brown a bit. Meanwhile, heat 10 cups of water in the pressure cooker. Add the oats to the water and put the lid on. When the pressure button on the lid of the pressure cooker comes up, turn off the heat and let the pressure cooker sit for 10 minutes. Then take the lid off and replace it loosely. Let the oats cool. Put half of the oats in the fridge and dip out of it for the next week. Microwave a cereal bowl of oats with a saucer on top and underneath for 3 minutes. Add raisins, walnuts, dried blueberries, milk, etc. and enjoy. Put the other half in the freezer for the week after that. Nothing could be simpler, easier, more nutritious, or more delicious than that! Remember to pull that second half of oats out of the freezer in time to thaw; it takes awhile.

13. by James Berry on Feb 16, 2009 at 8:07 AM PST

Thanks, Kathy. I don’t have a pressure cooker at present, but when I do, I’ll definitely try this!

14. by Alisha on Feb 24, 2009 at 5:29 PM PST

How about posting a recipe?? I got 3!!! YES 3!!!! 10# bags of these by MISTAKE in my last co-op order!!! whine, complain, sob Now I’m trying to make them ‘work’ for breakfast since we obvioulsy won’t be making oatmeal. Which our family happens to LOVE :-P

15. by James Berry on Feb 25, 2009 at 7:48 AM PST

@Alisha: cooking groats is about as easy as cooking regular oatmeal — they just take a little longer to cook. I cook them in 2 or 3 cups of water to 1 cup groats, for roughly 40 minutes, or until they reach the consistency you like. If you end up with too much water at the end, just drain it off.

I also posted about how to cook groats in a rice cooker, here: Going to the groats: a pictorial.

16. by anonymous on May 12, 2009 at 11:24 AM PDT

My wife started me on this: Soak the groats for 24 hours in water, rinse, then for breakfast (don’t cook), just add fruit like a 1/2 a banana, some blueberries and cinnamon....eat cold....great breakfast, verry nutty. Or, add the cold (pre-soaked) groats on salad, like you might add sunflower seeds.

17. by Holly on May 26, 2009 at 9:04 AM PDT

Make a cool oatmeal. I am a oatmeal phene and this is my favorite meal for hot summer mornings. Soak 1 cup of groats for 24 hours (switching out water after 12), 1/2 of your favorite type apple chopped 1/2 tsp cinnamon 3 tablespoons raisins 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup. Mix well (until it all shines) and enjoy. If the chewiness throws you try puting it in food processor with 2 tbsp. water and add raisins later.

18. by anonymous on May 26, 2009 at 2:17 PM PDT

I have been feeding Oat Groats to my finches for quite a while now... I guess I should try them myself.

19. by Jennifer on Dec 8, 2009 at 10:38 AM PST

Any ideas about using a slow cooker for the oat groats? I have a feeling these are what Jamba Juice uses in their oatmeal (the best stuff!) and I would like to make the same at home. Irish oatmeal turned out burned overnight in the slow cooker.

20. by Margaret on Dec 10, 2009 at 11:56 AM PST

I make oat groats into “instant oatmeal” by grinding them in my grain grinder (coffee grinder that has never seen coffee). This was a tip from a holistic health friend about 30 years ago and has been my favorite winter breakfast since then. You can use any whole grains. I grind 1/4 c. oat groats, 1/4 c. oat bran, a tablespoon of whole flax seeds, and an itty bitty pinch of salt (I now use Himalayan pink salt) into powder. In the meantime, boil about 1 cup of water. Turn off the fire, whisk in the ground-up oats powder, let it sit a moment, and you have delicious and nutritious oatmeal. I typically put a heap of frozen blueberries on the bottom of my bowl, then pour my oatmeal on top, and that thaws them. I don’t find a need for milk.

21. by Lenore on Jan 7, 2010 at 8:31 PM PST

Here’s how I cook oat groats in a slow cooker:
1 c. oat groats
4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
Cook on low in a 2-qt. slow cooker 6-8 hours (or overnight). Supposedly, it is important not to use a cooker that is larger than twice the volume of your food.
This is the method I had used for steel-cut oats, but they turned out pasty and mushy, which is the reason I tried it with whole groats. With groats, the grains seem to “open up” during cooking and they turn out nutty and chewy, although a “crust” forms on the sides and bottom of the crock - which I can live with. Even my picky kids like the resultant hot cereal, and the smell is wonderful to wake up to. You could add dried fruit and cinnamon if you like.

22. by anonymous on Jan 18, 2010 at 10:10 AM PST

My favorite way of cooking oat groats is in a thermos overnight. It is super quick and easy. Check it out.

23. by David on Feb 11, 2010 at 6:06 AM PST

You can set the microwave and forget it while you are taking a shower and getting ready in the morning. In a med to large bowl, cook oats and milk (you decide the ratio based to texture/runnyness), cook on HI for 3 minutes then on “3 Power” for 15 minutes. Cook more or less depending on you texture preference. I generally cook 1/3 cup oats and 1 and 1/3 cup skim milk. NOTE: If you have NOT tried, substitute milk for water for a MUCH creamier texture! All a slice of butter and YUUUUMMM!

24. by Chrystina on Feb 20, 2010 at 10:55 AM PST

I add dried cherries in mine when they cook and then top with a little honey... we like it.

25. by Kierstie on Mar 3, 2010 at 1:06 PM PST

I have purchased Oat Groats, but I am still unsure of the best way to cook them for breakfast... Is it really 3C of water per 1C of Groats? Seems like a lot of water. Does all of the water get absorbed into the groat? Then do I just add fruit to that or whatever I want to make it tasty? I can not have any dairy products. I do not like eggs and have been looking for a healthy alternative for breakfast. I have read much about Oat Groats, and want to try them. Please, someone verify the groat to water ratio, and I do not have a pressure cooker so these will be stove cooked, how long, and at what temp? Thank you in advance!!

26. by anonymous on Mar 3, 2010 at 4:15 PM PST

I have cooked oat groats in a slow cooker (see above post of mine - Lenore), steel cut oats in a pan on the stove, and oat groats in a thermos (see the post under my post above). The first 2 methods worked well with a 1:4 ratio. The thermos method worked well at the suggested 1:2 ratio. Apparently, there is so much water required because of the lengthy cooking times, and so is adjusted for steam evaporation. In the thermos method the water does not evaporate. I have always (before I started using groats) made rolled oats with a 1:2 ratio. This small amount of water to oats is only suggested because of the short cooking time.
I can’t have milk, either, and I use rice or almond milk on my oatmeal. I usually just add a natural sweetener like stevia and agave nectar, and I mix acai powder in, along with ground flax seeds. In actuality, you can add anything you like - here are some suggestions: fruit (any kind you like), nuts, maple syrup, honey, cream. My husband likes his best with butter in it (instead of milk). I also find it tastes best with a sprinkle of salt (mixed in with the oatmeal before adding milk). Sorry this is so long, but I hope it helped.

27. by Kim on Mar 3, 2010 at 5:31 PM PST

Kierstie, I usually use 2 1/2 cups water to 1 cup of oat groats when I cook them on the stove. It takes about 30 minutes to get them to the texture I like, but you might need to cook them a little longer if you don’t want them so chewy — experiment a little. A wonderfully savory alternative to fruit and sweetener is olive oil and sea salt.

28. by Tiffany on Mar 11, 2010 at 9:54 PM PST

I’ve recently started cooking all sorts of grains in my slow cooker for a great breakfast in the morning and tonight I just put in my groats, which led me here! I’ve been doing 1 cup of grains to 4 cups of liquid for everything so far (steel cut oatmeal, cornmeal, and one other that I don’t remember but we didn’t like much) and it is all absorbed by morning. It often times is a bit caramelized/brown/okay, burnt on the edges, but I like it.

29. by Kierstie on Mar 26, 2010 at 10:58 AM PDT

Thank you very much for the info and suggestions!
Can’t wait to try them :)

30. by Mary on May 5, 2010 at 10:47 AM PDT

My sister gave me the best method for cooking oat groats. The night before, I combine 2 cups water and 1 cup oat groats in a regular saucepan. I bring it to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, I put a lid on the pan and turn the heat off. Then I leave it there for the night. In the morning, I just give it a little heat to warm it up and add whatever I want, usually just a little almond milk. It has a great consistency, not too crunchy, not too mushy. So easy!!

31. by cgloukhoff on May 16, 2010 at 5:47 AM PDT

I have just made my second loaf of bread using oat groats, and it’s a hit. Like eating sliced crunchy oatmeal. First, I put the oat groats in the blender, just a few pulses so that some were cut up (it quickly forms a powder), but the bulk of it was still whole. Then in my bread machine, I put three cups of this, along with one cup all purpose unbleached flour. Added about 1 1/2 cups of liquid (I mixed milk and water). Then, just added 3 TBS table spoons of olive oil (butter would be a good substitute), some salt, 3 tablespoons of sugar along with a healthy scattering of golden flax. Add 1 TBS of yeast, and let the machine do it’s work. I may never go back to 100% milled flour. . . Since the bread takes about 3 hours to mix/rise/bake, it has plenty of time to soften up, but not lose its crunch.

32. by anonymous on Aug 17, 2010 at 8:59 AM PDT

@cgloukhoff - what type of bread machine do you have and what setting would you put it on for this loaf of bread? It sounds wonderful and I’m always looking for different bread ideas. Another thing - I wonder if I could use Chia seeds instead of the flax seed - as the Chia seeds don’t have to be ground for you to get the Omega 3 oils and nutrients from them - like the flax seeds do. Let me know! Thanks much!

33. by anonymous on Oct 19, 2010 at 8:50 AM PDT

A friend of mine cooks oat groats in his crock pot overnight. He fills his bowl with the oat groats and puts it in a crock pot filled with water up to about a half inch lower than his bowl. Then turns on the crock pot. He didn’t say which setting, but you can test it by trying it yourself. He says that the moisture created from the heating of the water cooks the oats. You have ready made oats when you wake up and all you need to do is clean the bowl that you ate them from.

34. by anonymous on Dec 13, 2010 at 6:26 AM PST

Well this is a raw recipe for groat oat and i love it from Ani’s raw food kitchen!
1 C oat groat, soaked overnight, and rinsed well
1 1/2 bananas, chopped (add more if desired, i put 3)
1 Tbs water, as desired
1/2 C raisins (optional)
Blend 3 first ingredients in food processors and mixed well. Add water for thinner consistency)
Add raisins last an pulse. Keep for 1 day in frige.

35. by anonymous on Jan 4, 2011 at 8:15 AM PST

place oat groats in a thermos with hot water overnight.
voila! in the morning, breakfast is served (almost).

36. by Wren on Jan 27, 2011 at 10:56 AM PST

We discovered oat groats last year and found source where we can get 25lb bags for cheap, so they are a real staple in our house. We make a batch that lasts all week and add veggies, garlic, onions, salt, etc, whatever you have lying around, and it is so good! What do we call it? Groatmeal. :)

37. by Sean-anam on Jan 28, 2011 at 4:27 AM PST

Hi, here is a recipe for oat groats that I love... Cook groats whichever way suits you and serve with stewed pear or apple cooked in cinnamon and whole cloves. I then add natural/plain yoghurt but that mightn’t be to everyone’s taste.. Really delicious and soooo filling! More suitable for the weekend though as it takes a little time.

38. by anonymous on Feb 6, 2011 at 6:29 PM PST

Hi~ After soaking Hulled oat groats overnight~rinse in am~ boil hot water to add with groats in the blender until desired consistency then add desired amount of olive oil and sea salt. One serving = 1c oat grouts, 1-3 Tablespoons of Olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt(Trace minerals). You can all-ways add more salt. Best to taste before removing from blender in case more salt is needed. In-Joy~ Di

39. by anonymous on Feb 16, 2011 at 7:05 PM PST

Hi there, I too am a new found lover of oat groats!! I make them in the rice cooker (idea from here) I then cook them as I would fried rice. It is very good!

40. by anonymous on Oct 19, 2011 at 5:26 PM PDT

I have a recipe for whole oatmeal where you soak the groats for 8-12 hours in water at room temperature, rinse and soak 8-12 more hours. Then you put the groats in a food processor with a chopped apple, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla. This will keep in the fride for 3 days. So I just soak my oats and make ahead. If you want it warm just warm it on the stove for a little while add raisins and milk. Really good.

41. by anonymous on Oct 21, 2011 at 3:52 AM PDT

I do a 1:3 ratio for water/oatgroats or if I’m adding dried fruit, then it’s a 1:4 ratio combination. (The dried fruit consist of whatever I happen to have on hand.)

I boil the mixture the evening before and let it boil for 3-5 minutes. Afterwards, I turn off the stove, leave the lid on the pot and don’t touch it until the next morning.

It’s completely cooked and just needs warmed up.

I cook breakfast for two of us and this recipe makes enough for 5 days. I refrigerate left overs. Each morning, I take out what we’ll eat and heat it up on on the stove with the addition of cold milk. Just until it’s warm enough to eat.

15 minutes total prep time in the evening for 5 days of food. It can’t be simpler!

42. by anonymous on Nov 21, 2011 at 6:57 PM PST

I cook them in a weeks batch too. Nuke ‘em fast for breakfast. Butter and salt is my favorite way but they are also good in homemade bread and in meatloaf.

43. by anonymous on Aug 27, 2012 at 8:02 AM PDT

I use the chopped oat grouts (steel cut I suppose) and put about a 1/4 cup into a bowl with 1/2 cup of water; microwave for 6 minutes and a get a thick, crunchy breakfast to which I add a tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter. It keeps my hungry belly comfortable for hours!!!!!!!!!

44. by anonymous on Oct 4, 2012 at 10:59 AM PDT

regarding cooking time i read one blogger on oat groats said to cook Night before bring to boil then simmer for 5 minutes in pot leave overnight then next morning just bring back to boil til done.

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