Rolled oats are a staple in many a pantry, are particularly common with frugal folks and those who react to gluten content. What’s not to love? Oats are filling, versatile and there’s many perks to using them in the kitchen! In spite of this, very few people know how to roll oats at home or understand how simple and nutritious the real-deal is!
But before we dive into the how-to’s, let’s talk about oats themselves!
ABOUT THE OAT SEED
Seed first came to America in early 1800. Today, approximately 90% of farmed oat grains are used for feeding livestock, with less than 10% being utilized for human consumption!
The oat seed is one of the few that has not been genetically modified. This is partially due to it’s low demand as a human food source and partially because of its chromosome complexity.
Oats are free of gluten content and among grains, contain the highest amounts of natural fats.
THE PARTS OF THE OAT GRAIN
The oat grain consists of three basic parts: the bran, germ and endosperm.
Let’s talk about the bran! This part is the hard, outer coating that encompasses the contents of a single seed. It contains the majority of vitamins, minerals and fiber found in the oat grain. It’s job is to protect the other two parts (germ and endosperm), which it does most efficiently!
(Pictured from L to R: barley, oat, spelt and red fife seed)
If you look carefully at oat grains (or any other), you’ll notice a small pocket encased by the bran, located at the base of each individual seed. This is the germ and it also contains minerals, vitamin E and vitamin B.
Break a seed open and you’ll discover the majority of it’s substance consists of a white starch, otherwise known as the endosperm. This part contains carbs and proteins.
When oats are commercially prepared for consumers, many of the above benefits are significantly reduced and in some cases, even lost.
THE TRUTH ABOUT COMMERCIALLY PREPARED OATS
Because of high fat content, oat seed quickly goes rancid once the endosperm has been exposed to oxygen. Whether flaked, rolled or steel cut, in order to present the consumer with a shelf-stable product, commercially produced oats must be processed.
Seeds are rinsed and thoroughly cleaned. After going through a steamer to softens the grains, they are then prepared according to the style desired.
Regardless of which style is chosen, prepared grains are then toasted until desired dryness is achieved. This heating process takes place to disables fats and natural enzymes, making the product shelf stable and ready to use.
WHY YOU SHOULD ROLL YOUR OWN OATS
In light of these details, it becomes obvious why you should learn how to roll oats at home! While commercially prepared oats are quick and easy to use, they are a refined food. Doing it yourself is the only way to get the natural vitamins, fats and fiber found in the whole oat grain!
HOW DO I ROLL OATS AT HOME?
If you want to learn how to roll oats at home, you must purchase a grain flaker! Whether electric or manual, this small device will flatten whole grain seeds for you.
A good flaker (also known as a roller) has an adjustable setting that allows you to control the thickness of the rolled grain.
Note: regardless of type chosen, you must be aware that even the best flakers cannot accomplish the thinness of steamed and flattened oats! Remember: you are working with a raw product!
TYPES AVAILABLE FOR YOUR KITCHEN
If you already own a Kitchen Aid mixer, your cheapest option is to purchase a flaker attachment. Grain rollers also come as single units, both electric and manual. If interested in a grain grinder as well, you can get grinder/flaker combos!
I highly recommend (not affiliated) Pleasant Hill Grains for both the quality KoMo brand they carry and good prices. Should you live in western Canada, you can purchase the KoMo brand through Fieldstone Organics.
In our home, we use the KoMo Flocino manual flaker. It falls in the price range of $140. We have been very happy with it’s performance.
SOURCING WHOLE OAT GRAIN
Depending on your location, you may have to do some sleuthing to uncover this particular grain in its natural state! Because the knowledge of how to roll oats at home isn’t wide spread, neither are whole oat grains.
And in your search, it may pay off to know that oats are often referred to as ‘groats’ as well!
For those living in the States, Azure Standard carries whole, well-cleaned oat seed for human consumption. Western Canadians can source whole oat seeds through Fieldstone Organics.
If I could give you one word of caution when purchasing oats it would be this: make sure they are well cleaned! Oat husks are notorious for clinging to the seed and are among some of the most difficult grains to clean.
Also, don’t attempt to save money by purchasing ‘livestock’ oats. Hulls are likely to be present and are literally impossible for humans to chew.
TIPS FOR WORKING WITH OATS
As always, when changing from processed to natural foods, there are adjustments to be made.
Although previously mentioned, it must be said once again: due to high fat content, home rolled oats will turn rancid within a few day’s time. You can roll as needed or roll a bagful and freeze to preserve nutrients, flavor and quality.
You must also know that home rolled oats will absorb more water than the commercially prepared alternative! When making morning porridge, be sure to double the amount of liquid you are accustomed to using. Even when baking, recipes need to have extra moisture added!
Because oats quickly go rancid, be sure to freeze baking that contains freshly ground oat flour or home rolled oats. If left out, baked goods will go rancid within 4-5 day’s time!
Lastly, oats contain more phytic acid than almost any other grain! While we prefer to soak all our homemade grain products before consuming (to break down phytic acid), we are particularly careful to do so with home rolled oats.
IS IT WORTH LEARNING HOW TO ROLL OATS AT HOME?
In the end, the question is this: how much to you value nutrition? If you value real food and your health, it can be worth learning how to roll oats at home!
And the adventure doesn’t stop with oats! Wheat, rye, barley and another grains can also be rolled as well. In fact, we discovered we perfect rye and barley porridge over oatmeal.
Unless you step in, you’ll never discover the benefits to be had!
Be sure to check out one of our favorite yeast bread recipes made with spelt flour and rolled rye!