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OATMEAL-O-RAMA – The best oatmeal

Is there a difference I wondered? Naaaaaah … not that much.

THE RESULTS: best to worst:

1. Christine and Bob’s Old Fashioned Oatmeal

2. Snoqualmie Falls Lodge Oatmeal

3. Bob’s Red Mill Organic old fashioned rolled oats

4. Old Wessex Ltd Scottish Style Porridge Oats

5. Old Fashioned Quaker Oats

6. Country Choice Organic Oven Toasted Oats

7. Albertson’s Old Fashioned oats (generic supermarket brand)

8. The Silver Palate Thick & Rough Oatmeal

Yup … Silver Palate … dead last … worse than I remembered the taste of generic oatmeal. It tasted like cardboard.

TESTING METHODOGY

1. Note uncooked appearance of each … small, medium, large oats, thickness, oatmeal dust, color

2. Microwave (2.5 minutes). 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1 cup water
3. Taste oatmeal … note … sip water to clear palate.
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 seven times

5. Taste Quaker as benchmark. Sip water
6. Taste other brand … better or worse than Quaker?
7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 lining up in order of preference

8. Before freezing … one more bite in order of preference
9. Rearrange rankings
10. Freeze for future breakfasts.

CONCLUSION

Ya know, despite all the slick copy on the pricy oatmeal boxes … one oatmeal isn’t that much better than another.

The oatmeal was tasted plain, but once milk or brown sugar or butter or raisins or other fruit or whatever is added … the minute discrepancies aren’t going to matter … except for Silver Palate … hate that stuff.

Oats that were thinner produced a lot of oatmeal dust which, IMO, makes the oatmeal gluey.

THE DETAILS

1. CHRISTINE AND BOB’S OLD FASHIONED OATMEAL 20 oz ($5.99)
International Fancy Food Show 1st place award
http://www.christineandrobs.com/

This has always been my favorite oatmeal … so much so when I moved out of the area, I packed up boxes of this oatmeal to take with me.

It looks pretty … evenly shaped, cut thick, almost with ripples. It has a pleasant texture, constancy and chewiness.

That being said … after doing back to back comparisons …will I pony up six bucks for this in the future given most oatmeal was very close? Maybe not.

2. SNOQUALMIE FALLS LODGE OATMEAL 24 oz ($4.99)
http://www.continentalmills.com/brand...

Smaller and a darker toasty color than most, with little dust. Initially it was watery but after sitting a few minutes it had a nice chewy texture.

3. BOB’S RED MILL ORGANIC OLD FASHIONED ROLLED OATS 32 oz (4.29

)

Medium oat with little dust. Nice consistency with a little more flavor than most

4. OLD WESSEX LTD 100% NATURAL WHOLE GRAIN SCOTTISH SYLE PORRIDGE OATS 18.5 oz ($2.99)

I like this oatmeal a lot. The pieces are irregular and there is some dust. It has a nice rough texture.

5. OLD FASHIONED QUAKER OATS 42 oz ($2 – On sale for $2.50 w/50 cent coupon … usually about $4.59 for large size … 18 oz $2.49)
http://www.quakeroats.com/

Given this is often on sale and there are coupons, I’ll probably be buying Quaker the most.. There are large irregular pieces and it has a nice creaminess to it with a bit of texture.

6. COUNTRY CHOICE ORGANIC OVEN TOASTED OATS OLD FASHIONED 18 oz ($2.99
)http://www.countrychoiceorganic.com/

Irregular pieces with more dust than most … it was flat and watery tasting.

7. ALBERTSON’S OLD FASHIONED OATS 100% NATURAL WHOLE GRAIN 18 oz ($2 on sale … usually $2.49

)

Slightly smaller and paler with more dust than most, it was gluier than the others. It is close to the taste of instant oatmeal which is chopped up smaller.

8. THE SILVER PALATE THICK & ROUGH OATMEAL 100% WHOLE GRAIND MILLED OATS 16 oz ($1.99 on sale … usually $3.99)
www.silverpalate.com
NASFT product award

This was just awful. It is everything I remember that was bad about generic brands. There was a cardboard taste to it. It was also slightly bitter and had an unpleasant texture. Slightly thicker cut with little dust.

Now for some pizza … and ice cream … and a life … hey, I don’t have to cook breakfast for the next week … or buy oatmeal again, like forever.

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  1. How about McCann's Irish Oatmeal? Is that available where you live? I love the regular steel cut oats, but they do take a long time. For convenience's sake, I find myself getting the quick cooking which are still significantly better than Quaker. I make it for my 16 mo son with whole milk and have to restrain myself from dumping cinnamon on it and gobbling it up!

    9 Replies
    1. re: amyvc

      I just went with rolled oats rather than steel cut. When I finish my endless stash ... maybe a post for oatmeal recipes is in order at this point, I might do steel cut since I learned on Chowhound about freezing.

      1. re: rworange

        I do a batch of steel cut oats each sunday evening for the following week:
        1.5 cups water
        1.5 cups lite vanilla soy milk
        1 T brown sugar
        2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
        1 cup pure pack pumpkin puree
        1 cup steel cut oats
        1/2 tsp salt
        bring all to a boil, add sco and simmer ~30 minutes.

        1. re: jujuthomas

          this recipe sounds awesome.... i'm assuming you just store it in the fridge? would it be ok to use splenda instead of the brown sugar? and which steel cut oats do you prefer?

          1. re: kubasd

            i use the splenda brown sugar. you could use whatever sweetener you prefer! :)
            I break it up into 1 cup portions (I'm on Weight Watchers).
            I don't really have a preference I"m new to eating sco! :) I get mine at trader joes, the red Country something brand.
            it's very thick when you microwave it, I add a little pumpkin pie spice soymilk and a little more vanilla soymilk to loosen it up.
            I hope you enjoy!

      2. re: amyvc

        I cook steel cut oats in the slow cooker. I put the oats and water in before I go to bed, turn it on low and voila, ready in the morning when I wake up.

        1. re: harken banks

          Good idea! I could do that for the weekend. I usually eat cereal at work before my class gets here. If I ate at home, I'd be hungry for lunch at 9:30 :) thanks for a good suggestion

          1. re: harken banks

            I've tried cooking things in the slow cooker overnight but the smell of cooking food drives me crazy all night. It just seems so un-natural and I have really bizarre dreams the times I did it.

          2. re: amyvc

            I make a full batch of the McCann's Irish Oatmeal and then just nuke it each morning for 4 mornings. Stir in dried fruit, sweetner and top with milk when it's hot as you want it. LOVE the texture of steel cut oats.

            I also use Quaker Old Fashioned oats and nuke them in the morning.

            1. re: KristieB

              And since I just used up my canister of McCann's I am going to try the other brands of steel cut oats as they are cheaper.

          3. Great post. I do feel that some are nuttier than Quaker but all in all the distinction is fine. (And I don't like McCann's, btw, which can be purchased at Trader Joe's. There was no difference worth the money or the puny-size package.

            And the difference in nuttiness? I throw some frozen TJ's walnut baking bits just before eating (as well as often some frozen berries). That cools the oatmeal, which I like without milk or with milk on the side, and adds a lovely nutty taste.

            1. I like steel cut oats when I have time to cook. When I don't have time I use a good quality old fashioned rolled oat, and my own peculiar "quick" technique. I put a half a cup of the rolled oats into my bowl, and pour one cup (approx) of just boiled water over them, and cover tightly for ten minutes while I do something else (brush hair, set up coffee, etc). They "cook" up nicely - more body then instant oatmeal, and not gummy at all. I like it, especially with a bit of maple syrup, or cream.

              1 Reply
              1. re: AnnaEA

                Nice hint. I'll try cooking some like that next week.

              2. Your "Testing Methodology" seems flawed to me...you cooked all these oatmeals the same way, even though their instructions for preparation might be different for every one?
                The types, thickness and toasting/precooking are often different enough to require cooking instructions unique to each of the brands you referenced.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ChowFun_derek

                  The testing was flawed because I microwaved, period. I think cooking is best for oatmeal, but beyond my patience or culinary skills & cleaning desires ... all those scorched pots, you know. As it was, sitting through all this microwaving was trying my cooking endurance.

                  Same microwave instructions on all. The difference was that some were more watery right out of the microwave. Stirring and letting sit fixed that. Some were better right out of the microwave ... Albertson's for instance I thought would rank higher, but sitting a while ruined the texture.

                  The best directly from the microwave ... Quaker ... creamy and a handsome looking porridge if there is such a thing.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I just use a non-stick pot! So far no problems with scorching...
                    I haven't got my courage up yet to try my fuzzy logic rice cooker, or slow cooker..for overnight cooking!

                    1. re: rworange

                      Here's a tip about handling your pot. My oatmeal is cooked in a small nonstick All Clad pot with a cover - nonstick skillet does not work right. What I do is put the pot over medium heat for a bit, and then rub it with a bit of vegetable oil: when you do this, you're risk of scorching goes waaaaay down. I toast the steel cut oats in the rubbed pot before adding the water; this brings out their flavor better.

                  2. Please take no offense, but I don't get how making oatmeal stovetop results in scorched pots? It only takes 5-10 minutes, depending on your stove, and if you turn it down once it comes to a boil, there shouldn't be any scorching. Soak the pot in cold water rather than hot, and the goo comes right out with a soapy sponge, no problem. If you're replacing water with milk, I can understand the aversion, but with water, cleanup is simple.

                    BTW, I love the Bob's Red Mill rolled oats, almost as much as steel cut. Have you ever tried steaming rolled oats? I saw the technique mentioned in a letter to Cook's Illustrated. You blanch them first, then steam, and though more time consuming and resulting in more dirty utensils, it's an nice variation for oats fans. I'm going to keep an eye out for your top two brands.