Different Types and Varieties of Oats
Oats belonging to the Grass family (Poaceae or Graminae) bears the scientific name Avena sativa. Oats are an annual growing grass, which grow upright to a height of about one meter. With flat elongated rough leaves and spindle shaped golden coloured seeds, Oats are available in various forms, depending upon the different processes they undergo.
After harvest, Oats go through a cleaning process followed by roasting that imparts a unique zest and flavour. After the hulling process oats does not detach the bran and germ, instead retains a concentrated source of fibre and nutrients. However, to produce various types of oat products used to make breakfast cereals, baked goods and stuffing, different types of processing are used, a few of which are listed below:
Whole Oat Groats
Oat groats are the completely unfastened oat kernel with the hard unpalatable outer hull removed, although with the kernel’s external bran layer left intact. These are generally found in health food stores and used as a breakfast cereal or stuffing. They take the longest to cook.
Steel-cut oats also known as pinhead or rough oatmeal, produced by running the grain through steel blades slicing into two three pieces. They feature a dense and chewy texture. They are quicker in cooking than whole oat groats. Since they contain the whole grain with the oat bran intact, they are very nutritious
Rolled oats are the old-fashioned or jumbo oats created when oat grouts are steamed and then rolled into flakes. As they are containing a flatter shape, it keeps them stay fresh for longer time, and makes easy to cook.
Quick-cooking oats are cut finely and rolled thinner alike to old-fashioned rolled oats. But as quick cooking oats are rolled thinner, they cook more quickly (about 5 minutes).
Instant oats more or less made the same way as rolled quick cooking oats except that they are rolled very thinly due to longer duration of steaming process. Generally, the more process a food undergoes the less nutritious it becomes, hence, it is wise to avoid instant oats as it loses its nutrients during the process.
The outer layer of the grain that exists under the hull is oats bran. Oat bran found in rolled and steel-cut oats are available as a separate product for purchase for use in cooked or hot cereal.
The term ‘oatmeal‘ means flour made from oats, which usually comes in three grades namely coarse, medium and fine. Used in cakes and crumble toppings medium oatmeal impart a nutty kind of flavour and are included as a thickener in soups. Fine oatmeal flour adds great flavour to bread and improves shelf life due to the natural preservatives found in oats. It is blended with wheat or other gluten-containing flours when making leavened bread
[Read: Benefits of Oats/Oatmeal]