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Feb 26, 2008 11:53 PM

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.

    5 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!

          1. re: rworange

            "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."

            Oh, I don't know. Flahavan's Progress Oatlets are very small and twice-processed but somehow, the effect is an extremely creamy bowl of oats. I was surprised at how much I liked them. And FWIW, I like jumbo flakes, pinhead, steel-cut (Flahavan's over McCann's), various grades (I have some fine-milled that a friend brought back at my request for baking) . . . it's just how the mood strikes me. One thing I recommend, though, is dry toasting (carefully, they can scorch fast), then adding your cooking liquid, then cooking as directed. And a quick way of preparing non-rolled oats is this one I stumbled on: .

          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'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.