Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Irish Oatmeal vs Rolled Oats

An Englishman and a Scotsman were discussing oats. The Englishman, with his nose in the air said "In England we feed oats to our horses, and in Scotland you feed oats to your men...", to which the Scotsman replied "...that's why in England you have such fine horses and in Scotland we have such fine men!"
from Oliver Rivington Willis, author of A Practical Flora for Schools and Colleges

Isn't this quote marvelous?
I have heard about Irish Oatmeal and even seen it in the small town grocery stores up here in NH.  I finally got around to trying it.  I love oatmeal - in all forms, sweet with brown sugar, savory with cheddar cheese & green onions and Allie makes the most delicious oatmeal raisin cookies.  So, it seemed natural that I would try Irish oatmeal.

What's the difference between Irish Oats and Rolled Oats?

Well, here are pictures of rolled oats and irish oats.  The Irish oats are clearly larger.  There is less "oat dust" in the container, probably because the oats themselves are sturdier and larger.  Irish Oats take longer to cook and the end result tastes the same as rolled oats, but the texture is meatier.  The oats stay intact, rather than become a slurry with the moisture.  If you like your oatmeal hearty, you would love Irish oats.  I enjoy them.  (I picture the Klingon Lt. Worf saying, "these are the oats of a warrior".)

Oats are a grain just like wheat.  They are a major crop worldwide and in the USA.   After the oat grain is harvested, it is processed to clean, toast and remove the first husk where it is called the oat groat or inner kernel.  From here, the inner kernel is brushed clean by scouring.  The scoured kernels are then heated to 215 degrees F, reducing the natural oil which makes it stable for storage.  (Any product that contains oil will go rancid.)

From we have variations that can be purchased at grocery stores.

Oat Flour - is ground oats.  it is easy enough to make yourself in a food processor or blender.  Oat flour adds nutrition to baked goods.

Irish Oats  - are known by other names, steel cut oats, Scottish Oats and Irish Oats are all used to describe groats that have been cut into 2 or 3 pieces with steel blades.  These take longer to cook as they are somewhat tough in this form, although they can be eaten raw.

Rolled Oats, "Old Fashioned" - are groats that have been steamed and flattened.  They cook quicker than  steel cut or Irish oats and produce a smoother cooked product.  They are flattened to approximately .024 - .032 inches.

Quick Cooking Rolled Oats - flattened even further and cook in a very short time.  These are flattened to between .017 and .022 inches thick

Instant Oats - are designed to dissolve in hot water.  These are quick cooking rolled oats that are cooked and dried again.  I remember my friend who had to make her own breakfast as a child.  She did this by running the tap water until it was hot and adding it to her instant oatmeal.  Personally, I think the nutrition content is zilch.  I am not even sure why these are classified as oats. They are huge sellers and sold in the oatmeal section, but don't even bother.

How do you know which type of oat you are buying?  Look no further than the label.  Not the advertising label, but the ingredient label on the back by the nutritious information....


SOFIA said...

very informative post. I had no idea that Irish oats were steel cut oats. In fact I had only heard of steel cuts oats, instant oats etc. Great research

piero canuto said...

I like the quote & the information