I’m eating a lot of oat groats these days. I found a source for locally-grown oat groats, but the minimum order was 25 pounds. Oat groats are the least processed of all edible forms of oats, so they store a very long time (some sources are giving them 30 years under the right conditions.) So even though I’d never tasted them before, I decided to give them a try. I figured any minimally-processed food was a good addition to our diet, and even if it took us years to use them up, it’d be okay. And in the meantime if the apocalypse arrived, there’d be something to eat. Win-win-win.
Oh. My. God. This is what oats taste like. I like good old-fashioned oatmeal just fine — I’ve eaten it for years, still happy to eat it if that’s what’s on the table. When I discovered pinhead oats and stone ground oatmeal, though, I realized just how much regular oatmeal had lost in the process of being…well, processed. (Don’t speak to me of instant oatmeal. That’s not a food.) So it comes as no surprise that getting closer to the whole grain results in an even more interesting taste and texture.
Even so, oat groats were a revelation. If you’ve never had them, you are missing out. They take a while to cook — these are not a convenience food — but they’re so worth it. They’re nutty, with a firm texture. The cooked grains are bigger than a grain of cooked rice, which along with the chewy texture makes them much more interesting than the soupy-paste of rolled oats and superior even to that of pinhead oats, which up until now I’d thought the pinnacle of oat gastronomy.
And I’m starting to see the 25-pound minimum order as an advantage. I paid $0.65/pound for my oat groats, which works out to about five cents for a 3/4 cup serving. In the morning, I bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add a 1/2 t of salt and a cup (~5 oz) of oat groats and set it over my heat diffuser on the lowest setting on my stove. It barely simmers for 45 minutes and is ready just about the time the rest of the family rolls into the kitchen. Add a splash of milk and you’ve got breakfast for four. Pretty good for maybe a quarter.