Market offers several forms of oats. This can confuse the consumer to choose the ideal nutritious form.
This article talks about the eight different forms of oats in depth.
Oats are a whole grain which resembles wheat grain in appearance. They contain several essential nutrients, which includes complex carbohydrates with insoluble, soluble, and prebiotic fibers, vitamins, minerals & plant-based protein.
Prebiotic fiber is important for gut health. Soluble fiber is important for lowering cholesterol. Soluble fiber also promotes satiety, maintains steady blood sugar levels, and promotes good bowel function. The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants support healthy bones, metabolism, immune function, heart health, decreased inflammation, and brain health.
What are the different types of oats?
Whole Oat Groats
The whole oat groats are the oat grains in their most intact form. Only, the inedible hull has been removed. Apart from that, the bran, endosperm, and germ are all intact. Out of all the different forms, the groats take the longest time to cook. The cooking time could be anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on the cooking method and recipe.
Oat groats can be cooked on stovetop, in a slow cooker or even in an instant pot. The texture of oat groats resembles that of rice or barley and is great in savory applications, such as oat risotto or a grain based salad. Toasting the grains first will impart a nutty flavor which can improve the palatability of a dish.
Steel Cut Oats
Steel-cut oats or the pinhead form or coarse oatmeal or Irish oatmeal. Steel cut oats, like the name says are cut by steel blades. This involves chopping the whole oat groat into 2 to 4 pieces with a steel blade. This gives them a kind of a chewier and nuttier texture than the whole oat groat.
The steel cut pieces are directly ready for consumption. They can also be processed further to make rolled oat flakes, of a bit smaller size than the flakes of whole groats. Steel-cutting of oat groat produces oatmeal with a chewier and coarser texture than other processes.
Steel cut type can take around 20-30 minutes to cook, and can be made on the stovetop, in a slow cooker or in an instant pot. Toasting steel cut oats before cooking gives a more complex flavor.
They can be used to make oatcakes, blended uncooked in smoothies.
The Scottish form is less common in the United States, but it is equally delicious. It is made by stone grinding of the whole oat groats. This makes the best oats for porridge. They can be cooked in about 10 minutes on stovetop.
The texture of Scottish oatmeal is fairly fine, although these grains are more coarsely ground than flour. In the United Kingdom, Scottish form is used for oatmeal. In the United States, the Scottish form is for porridge. It’s creamy, thick and nearly instant when combined with boiling water. Scottish oats are wonderful for baking purpose, as they are a more coarsely ground flour, like cornmeal.
Rolled or Old-Fashioned Oats
This is the most famous form of oats, as it is incredibly versatile. Rolled oats are made by steaming the oat grain, then rolling it flat between the steel rollers. Different manufacturers may create different thickness of rolled oats. Regardless, they are all the same nutritionally and also in taste. However, thicker oats will have a chewier texture.
Rolled oats are popular for making stovetop oatmeal, pancakes, baked products, muesli, granola bars or even smoothies. These are best cooked on stovetop, and generally take 5-10 minutes to cook.
These are a further variation of rolled oats. They are also steamed, but they are often rolled into a more thin form. They can be sometimes chopped into smaller pieces, giving them a larger surface area, and therefore a shorter cooking time. Quick oats cook in 1-3 minutes in microwave and are great for quick breakfasts and baked goods, granola, energy bites, smoothies and pancakes. Quick oats usually have a mushier texture.
This form is the most processed form of rolled oats and also of oats in general. After steaming and rolling, they are usually pre-cooked, dried, and chopped into small pieces. Instant oats are the quickest to cook and like their name, get done in nearly an instant. They only need to be soaked in hot water or a quick zap in microwave makes them ready for consumption. Instant oats are found in processed foods, so they can be quite often packaged with unnecessary additives and sugars. When purchasing the instant form, ensure to look for nutrition label. The instant form also has a mushier texture.
Oat bran is a byproduct of the oat manufacturing process. It is the outer layer of the oat grain. Although, it’s not a whole grain, but it is still nutritious due to its high fiber content. It can be added to cereal, can be eaten as a hot porridge on its own, can be added to baked goods as a way to increase fiber. Although oat bran provides a great nutritional boost, too much oat bran can quite well affect the texture of the end product.
Oat flour is made from finely-ground rolled oat form. It can be easily made in a food processor at home. It can be used in baked goods and also as a thickening agent although it is not as effective as corn starch, potato starch, or wheat flour.