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Steel cut oats question

Diane in Bexley Dec 14, 2009 11:50 AM

1) Found unopened, vacuum sealed canister of McCann's steel cut oats in back of cupboard. The expiration date is 12-12-2009. Can I still use them? If so, should I refrigerate leftovers? How long will they keep once opened?
2) Can I use steel cut oats for oatmeal choc chip raisin cookies?
3) Recipe makes 4 servings, should I cut down to 1/4 (just me in house) or will leftovers refrigerate?


  1. b
    bigfellow Dec 15, 2009 07:23 AM

    Short answer, Yes, yes and again yes.

    1. k
      Karen_Schaffer Dec 14, 2009 10:11 PM

      The only time I bought a can of McCann's (from Trader Joe's, several years ago), they were stale and rancid tasting right from the start, even though I opened the can immediately (I didn't check the date code). So I'd say open yours up, but if they don't smell sweet and fresh, don't bother cooking with them -- that stale, rancid flavor doesn't improve with cooking, trust me.

      Regarding 3: I always make a full batch, refrigerate the rest, and microwave portions on following mornings. The microwaved ones tend to be lumpier than the original because the oatmeal sets up, like polenta, and it's hard to mash it evenly smooth again. But hey, I've always liked having a few lumps in my oatmeal, so it's fine by me.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Karen_Schaffer
        rainey Dec 15, 2009 06:26 AM

        I sooo agree with you about making the full batch. It does set up -- in fact, I add flaxseed meal to mine and it gets *really* firm but that just means I can also slice off pieces, dredge them in flour and pan grill them to serve with maple syrup -- but I don't find it "lumpy" once microwaved. The heat and a little hot milk loosen it right up again. Do you start yours out risotto-style before you add the liquid? Perhaps it's coating all of the oats and flaxseed meal with a little oil that keep them separate and forestalls that lumpiness... I dunno. Anyway, it works for me.

        I also sweeten mine when I originally make it and I add raisins and chopped pecans. I find that even cold it tastes like rice pudding and is very satisfying. Real old-fashioned comfort food!

        1. re: Karen_Schaffer
          Diane in Bexley Dec 15, 2009 07:15 AM

          Thanks Karen, IIRC they do come from TJs. Planning to make them this weekend when I have time for breakfast to cook for 30 min.

          1. re: Diane in Bexley
            rainey Dec 15, 2009 08:06 AM

            If you use boiling water from the teakettle it will be much faster. ...even if part of the liquid is milk or buttermilk.

            And I always consider the 15 minutes or so after I've sautéed them in some oil and added all the other stuff passive time when I can make coffee or brush my teeth or whatever. Just use a very heavy pot that will insulate the bottom. I really like Emile Henry's Flame line of pottery for this kind of slow, unattended cooking.

            1. re: Diane in Bexley
              Caitlin McGrath Dec 15, 2009 09:58 AM

              You can let them soak overnight, and they will cook in 10-15 minutes. There should be instructions on the McCann's tin, but basically, you put them in the pot with the water, bring it to a boil, take off heat,cover, and let it sit until morning, then cook.

          2. r
            rainey Dec 14, 2009 05:01 PM

            I would definitely use them with confidence. They may just take a little longer to fully cook.

            Here's a Bon Appetit recipe for Chocolate Steel-Cut Oatmeal Cookies: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            2 Replies
            1. re: rainey
              bushwickgirl Dec 14, 2009 05:23 PM

              This is a very popular link for Oatmeal cookies, I posted it upthread and I've seen it on other chow topics too. Must be good.

              1. re: bushwickgirl
                rainey Dec 14, 2009 08:22 PM

                You know, I honestly can't say because I've never gotten around to making them. But I've had them in my recipe DB 3 days short of forever and I can still remember the day I copied it out of a magazine when I was waiting in a doctor's office. ;>

                They sounded good and interesting then and they still do now. Anyway, I really *love* steel-cut oats.

            2. f
              foiegras Dec 14, 2009 03:50 PM

              I'd smell them, and cook a small test batch (and give to the dogs if unsatisfactory ;) They can go off (i.e., rancid).

              1 Reply
              1. re: foiegras
                Splendid Spatula Dec 15, 2009 08:20 AM

                If they haven't been opened, they are probably fine. But once opened - they don't keep indefinitely. We had an open tin from I don't know when (at least a year, maybe more!) in the cupboard (freezer or fridge would have been better) and they were dedidedly off.

              2. todao Dec 14, 2009 12:22 PM

                1a. Yes
                1b. I'd freeze them, but they'll keep refrigerated
                1c . Depends on the storage environment (see "I'd freeze them" above)
                2 . You can, but they won't be the same as the oatmeal cookies you're familiar with. They'll make a difference in texture and, because they absorb liquids at a different rate (steel cut oats are not the same as oatmeal) the results will be quite different from what you might typically expect from your oatmeal cookies. They are the inner section of the oat grain. Although they are not the whole oat kernel (they're cut into pieces, hence the name) they are sometimes called "groats".
                3 . You can adjust the amount of steel cut oats by any amount. They'll keep in the fridge if you make more than you can consume at one sitting. However, IMO, they're not as good warmed up as they are freshly cooked.
                The "expiration" date on most packaged foods is a guideline. The food doesn't suddenly turn into something terribible on the day after the expiration (actually a "use by") date. As chef chicklet pointed out, "I'd use them if they were dated 12-12-2008".
                Inasmuch as I don't know how they were stored throughout their shelf life, I'd check them for the presence of weevils.

                2 Replies
                1. re: todao
                  bushwickgirl Dec 14, 2009 12:41 PM

                  Actually, groats are whole hulled oat kernels, before beng processed in any way. Steel cut oats are slivered:


                  1. re: todao
                    Diane in Bexley Dec 14, 2009 01:37 PM

                    Haven't opened them yet, but they have been stored in vacuum sealed cylinder. Can't imagine they have weevils, but will check (oooh!)

                  2. bushwickgirl Dec 14, 2009 12:17 PM

                    I call them pinhead oats, as well.
                    You don't have to refrigerate oats (I'm assuming you mean after the container is opened.)
                    Keep them in a cool spot in the cupboard, the tin they came in is good storage. They keep forever. You will use them up before they go by.
                    They keep well in the freezer, though, if you have space.
                    Cooked leftovers refrigerate well, just re-heat in MW.
                    Yes, you can use them for oatmeal cookies, but get a recipe that specifially uses them, the steel cut oats will give you a crunchy nutty texture. Here's a standard recipe that contains cocoa and chocolate chips:
                    There are also a number of chow discussons about steel cut oats, other cookie recipes,how to cook, store, etc. just search steel cut oats.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bushwickgirl
                      greygarious Dec 14, 2009 06:18 PM

                      You do not need a special oatmeal cookie recipe - my own is one developed from the one on the Quaker old-fashioned rolled oats canister. Cookies made with steel-cut will be crisper and crumblier. I have done a 1:1 swap with OF oats, but I think using half OF, half steel-cut produces the best texture.

                      You can use steel-cut oats instead of finely-chopped nuts in cookies, bars, and cakes.

                      I often use a cup of pinhead oats in place of one of the 4 cups of flour in my usual bread recipe.

                      They will keep for a long time on the shelf but will eventually go rancid (hence the vacuum can) so if I have room I keep them in the fridge or freezer, in a glass jar.

                      1. re: greygarious
                        bushwickgirl Dec 14, 2009 07:31 PM

                        Good to know. I was concerned about the texture and any liquid adjustments that might have to be made when using the steel cut.

                        Edit: I just had a thought about your statement that the cookies will be crisper and crumblier when made with the steel cut. I like to add a few Tbsp of molasses to any oatmeal cookie recipe, as I like a softer, chewier cookie; maybe that would work with the steel cut oats if the OP wanted the same result.

                    2. chef chicklet Dec 14, 2009 12:03 PM

                      I can't wait for your replies!! if it were me, I'd use them if they were dated 12-12 2008!

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