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Dec 14, 2009 11:50 AM

Steel cut oats question

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?


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

    1. Yes.
      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

        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

          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. 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

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

          1. re: todao

            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. 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

              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. 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:

              2 Replies
              1. re: rainey

                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

                  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.