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What are Old-Fashioned Oats?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Old-fashioned oats are oat groats which have been steamed and run through rollers so that they flatten out. They tend to be chewier than quick oats, which have been flaked so that they cook more quickly, and their cooking time is a bit lengthier than that of various quick oat varieties. Many markets sell old-fashioned oats, typically with the breakfast cereals, and they can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from old-fashioned oatmeal to cakes.

Oats are the seeds of a cereal grain which has been cultivated for food for thousands of years. Early humans just ate the whole seeds after the inedible hull had been removed, typically stewing them for extended periods of time to make a gruel. These whole oats are known as “groats.” Over time, the idea of flattening them for quicker cooking emerged, as did methods for grinding oats into flour and retooling them for an assortment of other purposes. Today, oats are a very popular food around the world.

Old-fashioned oats are a whole grain, which means that they are very beneficial for the health of the consumer. They include the nutrient-rich germ and the bran, which is extremely high in fiber. Their flavor is relatively mild, with a faint nuttiness, making them very flexible and allowing people to use them in an assortment of dishes. Oats also contain a number of useful vitamins and minerals, and some companies fortify their oats to make them especially healthy.

One common use of old-fashioned oats is oatmeal, a gruel which is made by cooking oats in water, milk, or another fluid. The oatmeal can be dressed with sugar, fruit, and other ingredients to make it more exciting, or it may be eaten plain. These oats can also be baked into oatmeal bread, added to cookies and muffins, and ground to make a fibrous addition to pancakes and baked goods. Because old-fashioned oats are minimally processed, many people who are health conscious like to add them to their diets, believing that they promote general good health.

When you purchase old-fashioned oats, you may want to label the container with the purchase date to ensure that you know how old the oats are. They are best when stored in a cool, dry place without exposure to light, and if you go through a minimal amount of oats, you may want to freeze them to keep them from going bad.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon66603 — On Feb 20, 2010

You could eat them without cooking, but they should be soaked first.

By anon51596 — On Nov 07, 2009

is it OK to eat oats (old fashioned or quick) without cooking?

By tovakopperud — On Aug 25, 2008

Do you have a good source for buying old fashioned oats in bulk, or in very large packages/bags? It doesn't have to be Quakers. I live on an island, only one grocery store here, very limited selections, very high prices. I would like to save some money by getting my oatmeal from somewhere else, even though I'll have to pay for shipping. Please advise. Thank you.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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