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Stoopidest (sic) question ever: oatmeal

This winter, I've been eating oatmeal like mad (I'd completely forgotten how much I enjoyed it, actually).

VERY recently, I noticed a ridiculous spike in the price of Quaker Old Fashioned I usually get so I thought I would try some others.

I have since purchased (but will not make until I wake up tomorrow) market brand (Fairway, for those of you in the New York City area) rolled oats, and also Bob's Red Mill Old Fashioned Whole Grain Rolled Oats.

My question is this: rolled oats is rolled oats is rolled oats?

And for those of you who aren't already annoyed with me, one more:

As someone who has never had steel-cut oatmeal, can you tell me, is that a little more like a oat porridge or what? I'll try it at some point, I'm sure, but I seem to have a preference for rolled oats so I figured I'd stick with what I know for now.


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  1. I'm sure there is a difference but you probably have to have a really refined palate and have to do a taste test comparison. It's sort of like being picky with your lentils or dried beans or whatever I guess, if you add flavorings you probably won't be able to tell.

    Now with steel cut oats, they are delicious and nutty and have texture. They are what oatmeal is all about. Not to sound pretentious but once you've had steel cut the rolled begin to resemble library paste. Though just so you know I do enjoy that cinnamon apple quaker flavor.

    4 Replies
    1. re: digkv

      You know...I've had both steel cut and rolled oats and loved them both, but rolled oats still have a very prominent place in my breakfast rotation. Sometimes you just want that "library paste" texture with all the great childhood associations. (although it doesn't have that faint minty taste of actual library paste...) I always add dried fruit of some sort to my rolled oats oatmeal though, which may be why I don't miss the texture of the steel cut.

      Not sure what oat porridge is...but steel cut oats kinda remind me of grape nuts cereal after they've soaked in milk for long enough to lose most of their crunch. But a little chewier.

      1. re: wawajb

        I agree. I prefer rolled oats.

        I did a side by side taste comparison of 8 types of rolled oats ...

        OATMEAL-O-RAMA – The best oatmeal

        So if you think your question is stoopid, it doesn't compare to doing an actual taste test.

        It turns out it doesn't matter. The big difference was cosmetic. For the more expensive oatmeals, the oats were more regular and there was less dust, but the taste wasn't all that different. So buy the least expensive.

        IMO, it is the dust that makes rolled oats gluey. That's why the instant oatmeal is the worst and has that awful carboard taste and texture. The oats are too small and the dust created by chopping them up makes them pasty.

        As to rolled oats, they are a pain to make. Yes, they can be frozen but they do lose a little re-heating. Go to a restaurant that makes them to see if you like them.

        1. re: rworange

          So several months have past but I've not forgotten my original post. What brings me back today is to offer a brief word of thanks. I have now become diligent - almost militant - about shaking out newly purchased oatmeal in a moderately sized sieve to remove excess dust (not like a chinois, but not a Chinese "spider" either). I can't begin to tell you the difference it has made texturally. In facet, when I add my ground flaxseed, I wait until it's almost done cooking before adding it (because, as you might ave gathered, adding it earlier makes for gloopier oatmeal). Thanks again!

        2. re: wawajb

          Well, it's a couple weeks later and I'm back to report ... I may never eat Quaker again. I started off with the organic rolled oats bought in bulk ($1.19/pound) ... very little dust (something I hadn't known to look for) and, I'll be darned, very little glue!

          When I ran out of those, I switched to the bag of Bob's Red Mill ... a vastly superior product to Quaker and even my bulk oats. But at $2.99/pound, I question how often I'll be buying them.

          Now that I know that the glue is not to be expected, I have taken on Thomas Keller's mentality - you need both the product and the delivery, if you have product but no delivery, the dish fails; if you have delivery but poor product, the dish will fail again.

          I have started to take greater care in how I prepare my oats ... starting off at a lower temp, cook a little longer, fold don't stir (or beat), add everything in in the last 30-60 seconds (ground flaxseed, honey, milk, spices, etc.)

          Thanks for opening my eyes, and thanks in particular to rworange for such an informative post.

          PS - The oat porridge description was simply an analogy, I've not had any such thing.

      2. I once had Quaker old fashioned and McCanns old fashioned side by side, and the Quaker had no flavor at all compared to the McCanns. I grew up on Quaker but don't buy it anymore.

        1. I'm another one in favor of steel cut oats over rolled.

          But to answer your question, rolled oats is rolled oats is rolled oats. :) I've never been able to detect a difference between generic and name brand rolled oats.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Morganna

            I've been buying my rolled oats from a health-food store. Most items in their bulk section are dispensed from plastic bins on the shelves, but the rolled oats are kept in large barrels. They stock regular rolled, thick rolled, and extra thick rolled. On a per pound basis their rolled oats are as cheap as wheat flour, or even less.


          2. I'm a big oatmeal-eater, but I admit, I prefer the rolled over the steel cut. I have never noticed a difference in brand- what I DO notice is the difference in how long they cook. I used to do the Quaker Kettle Oats- cook for 15-20 mins. When I wasn't able to find them anymore, I gave up oatmeal rather than eat the 5 minute stuff. When I saw Bob's Red Mill was 20-minute oatmeal, I brought home as much as I could carry, and have been happily plowing through them every morning- they're excellent, and even better than the Kettle Oats ever were. (I should note that I don't mind the steel-cut, but it just isn't the same- it's like a different hot breakfast. Like a hard boiled egg vs. an omelette. Both nice... but not the same).

            1. I absolutely love oatmeal...especially cooked in whole milk :)
              I must say the speed of cooking rolled oats works perfectly during the weekdays,however for a special treat I make the steal cut on the weekends. I've heard that you can make the steal cut the night before in a slow cooker, but I'm not sure it they will loose the nutty chewiness that I've come to enjoy. You should give the steal cut a try...it's very good

              4 Replies
              1. re: barefootpris

                Having been sucked in by the famous talk show host's PR for steel cut, I bought a can. Since I have NO patience, I did as instructed -- on the can, online? -- and ground it in the blender, boiled the water, threw it in, and let it sit overnight.

                Meh. Not worth the extra money. Quaker is perfectly fine for me.

                1. re: dolores

                  I think the quaker ones are gluey, but I do still enjoy rolled. I buy nature's path organic power oats, which have added flaxseed and blueberry so they're more a well rounded meal than just plain oats. Naturally sweetened as well, which is a bonus for me as I don't do artificial sweetners and try to stay away from refined sugar.

                  I do love the steel cut but I find making them ahead to be a PITA as well, so I only make them on the weekends when I have more time.

                  1. re: dolores

                    Sorry about your experience with steel cut, but that's certainly not the way to make a comparison. I get mine from a bulk bin and slow cook it overnight, no patience needed. And it's not more expensive than rolled oak either.

                  2. re: barefootpris

                    I love steel cut and cook them in the slow cooker weekly.

                    For a 3 or 4 quart cooker (I'm not sure how big mine is) I use 1 cup oats to 4 cups water, and about 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 tsp table salt), and a teaspoon or so of vanilla. Sometimes I throw in raisins or craisins or chopped up dried peaches -- they bloat and practically disintegrate. I add about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of the fruit and about an equal amount of water. I keep it in a container in the fridge, and reheat a portion daily in the microwave with milk, brown sugar or honey and cinnamon.

                  3. Chowhound has shown me that people are suprisingly passionate about oatmeal, which is great! I, too, love the stuff and go on jags of eating it for breakfast. I buy mine at a healthfood store, which offers steelcut, regular rolled oat, thick cut rolled oat, and organic rolled oats. Prices for the last 2 are $.69 and $.89 a pound respectively. I buy there because it is cheaper than the grocery store and the turnover is good. I think that might be the key to the flavor differences I taste--it seems sweeter and nuttier than Quaker.

                    I find it takes 10 mins at most to make rolled oats--plenty of time to shower or get dressed or, more likely for me, sit at the table in a stupor with a mug of tea trying to wake up. I use a mix of regular and thick cut oats for more texture, cook it in twice as much milk as oats and cook it until it is thick--hate gruely, thin oatmeal.

                    I'll occassionally make steelcut oats, but I actually find them to have less chew than I want. They do have good flavor, but it comes out almost like a very thick tapioca pudding in texture than grainy. I like wawajb's description of soaked grapenuts.

                    I think it's worth experimenting with brands and cooking techniques--until you get that perfect bowl!

                    1. Instant oatmeal is paste and nasty and icky, imo. Quaker Old Fashion is a much more palatable brew. Steel cut oats are great. I love them, but the long cooking time, forty minutes, can be a real turn off. I wanted them this morning and could not have them because I was embroiled at the time they should have been on the stove. I should have used the overnight method in my crock pot, but NOOOO, I forgot.

                      Sometimes that rolled texture is what I want and sometimes I'm in it for the chew. Depends on the mood.

                      For those who are gluten intolerant Bob's Red Mill now has gluten-free oats. Oats don't have gluten in them, but there is a lot of cross contamination. It's a real boon to those who are gluten intolerant!

                      The price has spiked, all food. Gas prices mean shipping is going through the roof.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nliedel

                        nliedel, I don't have a crockpot, and just used a regular pot. Again, I don't remember where I found the instructions -- perhaps on the McCann website -- but their recommendation of 4 cups of water to 1 cup of oatmeal left the oatmeal too watery. Then again, it may have been because I ground it in the blender.

                        Blech. I think I'll make oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips. The breakfast of champeens.

                        1. re: dolores

                          I've never heard of putting them in the blender. Seems like that would destroy the texture, which is one of the best things about the steel-cut oats. Try them again, without blending!
                          Like you, I have very little patience, and usually don't have time for the steel-cut ones; but when I do, on weekends or whatever, I absolutely love them. The rolled ones are good too, just not in the same way.

                      2. I've settled my cooking problems with steelcut oats by cooking them the night before for twenty minutes in the top of my double boiler and then letting them sit there overnight. In the morning, I just bring the water in the base to a boil, and about ten minutes later I have perfectly cooked and well-textured oats. As for running the raw oats through a blender, I can't imagine why anyone would do that unless he's wanting breading for fish or something.

                        I too grew up with rolled oats, mostly Quaker. Several years back I became fond of another brand (Mother's?) that was toasted after the rolling process, and found these had more flavor...and then Quaker bought them out and killed'em off. Now I keep rolled oats just to make cookies.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I always toast my oatmeal in the pan for a few minutes (until I can smell it) before adding liquid. Really enhances the flavor.

                        2. Steel cut oats are the way to go, and they are not necessarily the slow way that so many seem to think they are! My friend in Ireland (hey, I figure she ought to know) told me how she makes it: The night before, put a cup of water in a saucepan. Add a little salt, if you like it. Warm it (kind of like a baby's bottle), then add 1/2 cup of the oat. Stir them in, cover them, and let them stand overnight. (Turn off the flame!)
                          In the morning, stir again, add a little water or milk if you think it needs it (I never do), and cook it uncovered on medium for 15 minutes until it's done. Stir it now and then, if you think of it. That's for one serving. Mine never needs more than 15 minutes, and it might even be less. Serve with butter and cream, if you're the savory type. Serve with milk/cream and a little maple syrup for a voluptuous morning!

                          1. Thanks to, irishnyc for the crockpot method. I'm trying that tonight.

                            I would not put my steel cut oats in a blender. I cannot imagine that would do anything, but make them the consistancy of glue when cooked, or am I wrong?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: nliedel

                              Any oats, even whole groats, have a binding glue when cooked. It is the soluble fiber. What differs across the various forms is the texture of the non-glue part. Groats and cut oats remain chewy.

                              If you have chance try some other grains such as wheat and tritical. These are available in whole, cracked, and rolled form. Without the soluble fiber of oats, the cooked cereal remains looser.


                            2. All oatmeal needs a touch of salt to taste really good. Not enough that it tastes salty, just a pinch per bowl or so. BUT - if you cook the oats with the salt they can get tough. Put the salt in near the end, cook it just a little bit longer with the salt.

                              1. I cook my oatmeal in my rice cooker. Works very well. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes, just the right amount of time to put it on then go take a shower/get dressed.

                                1. We cook out cut oats soaked and cooked in apple cider w/ diced apple & cooked in cast iron pot, topped w/ maple syrup.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    That sounds incredibly good. I'll have to remember to try it.

                                  2. There was a recipe for steel-cut oats in Cook's Illustrated mag that recommended toasting the oats with some butter before cooking. I don't have the recipe handy, but it was something like 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter per cup of uncooked oats. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, add the oats and stir until fragrantly nutty. Proceed to cook as usual with 3:1 liquid to oat ratio, salting only near the end of cooking.

                                    1. I like Quaker's large flake rolled oats: once cooked and in the bowl some butter and salt, and if I'm feeling sweet a pinch of cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar as well.

                                      Still, this thread has got me curious about the varieties of oatmeal.