Sunday, May 16, 2010

Food Storage: Oats

Periodically, I post about different basic foods that can be good for food storage. This post is about oats. (The first post about a specific food was in March (dehydrated refried beans); there will be more to come).

Why are oats good for food storage?
They are inexpensive to purchase, they can be stored for a long time.

How inexpensive are oats?
If purchased in bulk quantities (and most foods are cheaper when purchased in bulk quantities), they can be as economical as $.08 per serving!

Where can oats be purchased?
Almost all grocery stores will sell oats. Oats in bulk quantities (25 pound packages, for example) are sold at many whole foods stores, some warehouses and at the LDS Home Storage Center.

How can oats be stored at home?
In a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

What are the differences between different types of oats?
Instant oats or "quick" oats have been milled an extra time. They cook quicker, but have lost some nutritional value.
Regular oats, rolled oats or "old-fashioned oats" are most commonly available. Typically they have been milled once. They are still highly nutritious and will cook in about 5 minutes.
Steel cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel). They come from high-protein oats and have been cut only 2 or 3 times with a steel blade. They are the most nutritious, also the most expensive, and will take longer to cook (15-30 minutes). They are becoming more widely available.

How are oats cooked?
For regular oats, boil water, then add the oats. Stir to blend oats with water. Oats can then be simmered for a few minutes on low heat, or, turn the heat off and cover with a lid for a few minutes. (Use 3 parts water and 1 part oats).

Is there any variety to oatmeal as a breakfast food?
Yes! Typically, oats are served cooked (following the directions just listed), then flavored with brown sugar and served with milk. This is a delicious breakfast food. Variety can also be added to oatmeal by adding chopped or grated apples, cinnamon, raisins (or other dried fruit), sliced bananas, peaches, strawberries, whole blueberries, or other fresh or frozen fruits.

Does oatmeal need to be cooked?
Nope. This is one reason oatmeal is a such good food storage food! It can be eaten without being cooked. Pour one serving of oatmeal into a bowl, then cover with water, fruit juice or milk. Allow the oatmeal to soak up the liquid (approximately 20-30 minutes), then serve. Oatmeal prepared this way can still be garnished with fresh or frozen fruit, nuts or dried fruit. Oatmeal can also be stirred into yogurt and eaten that way.

I want to store oats, but I don't like oatmeal. Are there other ways to use oats besides oatmeal?
Yes. Oats can be milled in a blender to make oat flour. Pancakes can be made from oat flour, and oat flour can be used with other flours in many recipes. Also, oats can be used in dozens of recipes. Here are some favorite recipes from family/friends:

No-bake Cookies
In saucepan, combine:
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup milk (powdered milk or rice milk also work)
1/2 cup butter
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Time for 60 seconds.
Pour into a large bowl. Cool to lukewarm.
Add: 3 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt
Stir until it loses its gloss. Form into cookies. Store in fridge.

Easy Granola
Mix in saucepan, over medium heat, until sugar is dissolved:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
In a large bowl, combine:
5-6 cups oats
1/2 cup dry or powdered milk
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
dash salt
Combine all. Pour in glass baking dish or spread on a baking sheet.
Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.
If desired, add nuts or seeds or raisins or other dried fruit. Serve with milk as a breakfast cereal or eat as a snack. Store in airtight container.

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