What is Oatmeal?
Oatmeal is a whole grain cereal that is enjoyed worldwide. The versatility, convenience, and nutritional profile of oats, makes them a great breakfast choice. The scientific name for oatmeal is Avena Sativa. Oats comes from a domesticated type of cereal grass from the Poaceae plant family. They are grown all over the world but most of the production occurs in the Northern Hemisphere during the cool seasons.
Oats are grown and harvested by farmers who deliver the grain to mills where they then become processed for human consumption. Oats are processed by cleaning and removing any unwanted impurities such as stems, weeds, and other plant matter. The oat is then de-hulled, meaning the inner oat kernel is separated from the outer protective hull. Once the hull is removed, the kernel is processed in a kiln that heats it to help prolong quality and ensure shelf life. You could not easily digest or even eat raw oatmeal that has not been processed.
Types of Oatmeal
OAT GROAT: This is the least processed type of oatmeal. Oat groats are simply the whole oat kernel that has been de-hulled and heated in a kiln to ensure shelf life and quality. These are a lot tougher and chewier than regular rolled oats and their cooking time is substantially longer. They are darker in color and have a nutty taste.
Steel Cut Oats: Steel cut oats are oat groats that have been put through a machine that cuts the grain into smaller pieces using a steel blade. The additional surface area allows them to cook faster compared to oat groats. Steel cut oats are also referred to as Irish Oats.
Scottish Oats: Scottish oats are what some people may consider the true oatmeal, especially in the UK. In the US, we may think of this style of oats as being a porridge. Instead of being cut or rolled, these oats are ground up. This creates a powdered type product that is similar to flax meal.
Rolled Oats: This is likely the most popular type of oatmeal. Rolled oats are oat groats that have been steamed then rolled out to flatten them using rollers. They are flaky but not too thin and are disk like in shape. Rolled oats are a great all purpose oat for oatmeal, nutrition bars, or other recipes. This is the type of oat we use in our Overnight Oatmeal since we found it to be a good balance between chewy and mushy when soaked overnight.
Quick Oats: Quick oats are the most processed type of oat. You will see small and thin pieces that are light and flaky. Quick oats have been steamed, rolled, and then cooked again before packaging. This is the type of oatmeal you will usually see in little brown packets.