How Do I Choose the Best Rolled Oats?

Sheri Cyprus

The best type of rolled oats to choose is the steel cut variety. You should always look for fresh, dry oats that don't have a rancid odor. The term "rolled oats" can be confusing, as it's often used to mean all oat types from the quick or instant to the steel cut kind that takes longer to cook. Steel cut oats can provide a pleasant coarse texture as well as many possible health benefits.

Rolled oats contain avenanthramides, antioxidants that can help rid the body of accumulated toxins.
Rolled oats contain avenanthramides, antioxidants that can help rid the body of accumulated toxins.

Studies done on eating steel cut oats in comparison to the quick, rolled variety suggest they may lower cholesterol as well as blood sugar in diabetics. Rolled oats are high in fiber and contain protein. Good sources of minerals such as manganese and selenium, steel cut oats can also be used to mix into a meatloaf rather than bread crumbs.

Rolled oats.
Rolled oats.

The texture of steel cut oats makes them a good choice for hot breakfast cereal, or porridge, as well as for use in baking. Bar cookie crusts, drop cookies and streusel dessert toppings are popular uses for the coarse cut oats. While steel cut oats do take longer than the less-nutritious quick or instant variety, they can still be made into cooked cereal within 30 minutes or less. Research and compare the nutrition information while also weighing it against the difference in cooking time, if this is important to you, to make the best decision.

Since the steel cut type of rolled oats is coarser and slightly chewier, it can seem to have more flavor than the flat, quick oat version. "Old-fashioned" and "Irish oatmeal" are some of the names for steel or coarse cut oats. You should buy only enough oats that you can use within two months to ensure maximum freshness. Storing the oats in a cool, dark location can help keep them fresher longer.

If you are buying oats pre-packaged, look for well-known brands and check the "best before" date if there is one. Individual packages of oatmeal are usually best avoided, as these are typically the quick variety and often contain a lot of sugar. When opting for old-fashioned or steel cut rolled oats in the large bulk bins in supermarkets, don't buy if they appear to be damp or have a rancid smell. You may want to compare the price for bulk coarse oats and those pre-packaged on the grocery store shelf to help you decide which is the better bargain.

Oatmeal cookies can be made with rolled oats.
Oatmeal cookies can be made with rolled oats.

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Discussion Comments


I have found a secret to longer cooking times of the steel cut oats, making morning angst less apparent.

The afternoon or evening prior to the morning you would like to eat the steel cut for breakfast:

Place 1/3 cup steel cut oats in a wide mouth thermos.

Stir in 1 cup boiling water and stir well. Close the thermos.

In the morning there you have them, perfectly cooked, ready to consume.

If you wish, add six or seven prunes to the mixture in the evening prep.

As a single gal, this amount is good for two or three mornings. Leftovers are kept in the fridge in the thermos. Less work again. Love it, I do!

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