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Sometimes referred to as Scotch oats or Irish oats, steel cut oats derive their name as a result of the process that is used to prepare the oat grains for consumption. As one of the hardiest forms of prepared oats, they are excellent for use in such old time favorite dishes as European porridge.
Just as with all types of prepared oats, steel cut oats are made from oat grains that have been hulled and steamed. Generally, the finished oat groats are also roasted, helping to release an enhanced flavor in them. Large steel blades are used to chop the groats into two or three pieces, leaving steel cut oats with a texture that is chewier and coarser than most other forms of oats.
Steel cut oats contain all the nutritional value found in any form of oats. While some people tend to think that the level of vitamins and nutrients in this type of oats is superior to that of other forms, there is no real documented proof to that effect. The real value is more in the enhanced taste and rougher quality of the oats.
Because the texture of steel cut oats is firm in comparison to thick or thin rolled oats, some people prefer to use them in recipes for items like breads and cookies. In fact, steel cut oats can be used in any recipe that called for rolled oats. One important thing for cooks to keep in mind is to adjust the cooking time when using this type of oats. Generally, it will be necessary to increase the cooking time by half, and in some cases even double it.
While steel cut oats are more difficult to find than rolled oats, it is possible to purchase them from health food supermarkets as well as to order directly online from several distributors. Usually, they will cost a little more than the more commercial types of oats, but for anyone who prefers the hardier taste and texture, the cost is considered to be well worth the investment.