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Having Steel-Cut Irish Oats Ready in the Morning

Chris Amirault

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I adore steel-cut Irish oats like McCann's, and in a perfect world I'd have 'em ready to go every morning when I stumbled down the stairs. However, I don't really know how to do the overnight thing well.

Does anyone have a good method? I have a Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker; would the congee setting work overnight? Ratios? Help?!?

Chris Amirault

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I'm interested to know what others do too.

Though one winter a few years ago we prepared oat overnight, I don't quite remember the ratio we used but I put them in a small ceramic casserole in our slow cooker. I filled the slow cooker with water so that it came most of the way up the outside of the smaller casserole. It worked perfectly with the slow cooker on low. I started with hot water from an electric kettle.

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I use the porridge setting on my Zoji, and it's the only way I'd consider making steel cut oats anymore!

1 cup steel cut oats

3 cups water

Up to 1/2 cup of dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, etc.) if desired

I like to thin out the oats with milk after cooking, so that's why I like to use three cups of water. Some people like using four cups...

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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Doesn't your Zo have a "Porridge" setting? The Fuzzy logic one I gave my daughter has and so does the IH one I use all the time.

I use the porridge setting for steel cut or "pinhead" oats, mixed grains (7, 9 & 12 grain cereals) and combos I put together myself, wheat berries, millet, rye, etc.

Start it at night and with the automatic keep warm function it is ready in the morning.

However, I have also used Alton Brown's crock pot method when the rice cooker was in use for something else.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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I know many folks, including me, that do it in the crock pot.

In fact, if you google it, you'll find lots of recipes, including this one:

Steel-cut oats in the crock pot

Even if you prefer not to use a crock pot, you can undoubtedly find some tips, hints, measurements, recipes, that will be useful regardless as to which method you finally settle upon.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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The proportions of oats to water can also vary a bit, depending on how "fresh" the oats are and how they have been "treated." I like to toast them in the oven before cooking and they take up a bit less water, so I use 3 3/4 cups water.

Also, when I buy them in bulk at the health food store (they have a rapid turnover) I have noticed that they take up a lot more water than the canned or boxed brands.

The regular ratio, 4 cups water to 1 cup pinhead oats is what I normally use but sometimes, if the oats have been stored for a long time, they don't take up as much water and also remain a bit chewy.

When I buy the bulk oats, I use 4 1/4 cups water. So you really have to do a bit of experimenting to see how your oats behave.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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I have them every moring. The night before i put them in the pot, bring the water to the boil and leave them. When i wake up in the morning they take just about a minute to cook. not a rice cooker or a crock pot, just a regular cooking pot. My mom does the same thing but in the microwave.

Toasting them makes them really really good.... toasting them in butter makes them even better.

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I have used this method and the crockpot method. Now I just make a couple days worth and reheat them in the microwave in the morning. (So I can wash the pot before I go to bed!) Also, eat them for a quick treat if I feel like something sweet and don't have anything in the house. Just a little brown sugar and cinnamin and my sweet tooth is satified.

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I actually made some this morning and I have extra - I just cooled the dish, covered them and put them in the fridge. I will add just a splash of milk and put them in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove. I've done this before and I think they are kind of like stew, in that, they get better the next day. I also toasted the oats in a little butter, added a bit of applesauce and baking spice for flavor.

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We use the rice cooker too. I have a Sanyo, and use the porridge mode / timer (using the normal setting usually results in some boiling over).

I have found that if I use one (Japanese) cup of steel cut oats (the measure included with the cooker), that doing 3:1 or 4:1 or whatever we usually do lines up perfectly with the "porridge" 1 cup marker on the rice cooker.

BTW, do folks add the salt early in the process when using this method? I'd always been told not to use salt in the rice cooker, but seems like the results would be better if I added the salt before cooking.

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What happens when you toast 'em?

They develop more of a nutty flavor that I like. You can always try toasting just a small amount and taste them before cooking. They are a bit crunchy but you can get the flavor.

This is the way they were prepared when I was a child, my grandma's cook would toast a big batch in a cast iron skillet, then put them on to cook in a big cast iron pot.

I didn't realize until I was nearly an adult that oatmeal was prepared any other way.

When I was in the Army in the '50s, I couldn't stand oatmeal and I think it was because it hadn't been toasted first.

(I do the same thing with other grains - in my earlier post I forgot to mention that I usually include a good amount of cracked and toasted buckwheat groats in my cereals.

The local health food store sells buckwheat that is already toasted. I haven't seen it in regular stores.

I add salt at the beginning of cooking.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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Don't have a rice cooker or a crock pot. Cook a batch on Sunday, eat some fresh, put rest in fridge, reheat portions over next several days in microwave with added milk and maple syrup. Don't think they are quite the same reheated (although yes, Chris, still very bitey), so will try Yajna Patni's method. McCann's now prints a similar method right on the tin--essentially a par-boiling method for finishing next day in less time--and did you know they now sell a 5-minute version? Haven't tried them.

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I have in the past made large batches to last 3-4 days in the evening and then just nuke what I want in the morning. I will admit that it is not as good as freshly made, but nothing horrific.

I also toast my oats when I remember to do so. I add the oats to a small amount of butter and let cook until aromatic. I also chop up a small apple and throw that in with some pie spice mix when adding liquid.


"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I am a major fan of steel cut oats for breakfast. So far I have not found a successful way of cooking them ahead or overnight. I don't own any kind of timed cooker. The size of the cut has a lot to do with how fast the oats cook. My favorite for both flavor and cooking time is Pinhead steel-cut oats from Scotland in the plaid can. McCann's Irish oats are good, but I think they take longer to cook. So do Bob's Red Mill take longer, despite the fact that the package says 10 minutes! I like my oats to have a bit of a bite, but they shouldn't be a struggle to chew.

Pinhead oats take about 20-25 min from the time the oats go into the simmering water, and then another couple of minutes just sitting with the top on and the flame off. McCann's takes 40 to 45 minutes and Bob's takes the same, and both seem to need more water to go the distance. After 35 minutes I thought Bob's were awfully chewy and hard to eat; so far the only Bob's grain I don't love. My second favorite is the bulk steel cut oats from the place we do most of our shopping. Not quite as delicious as Pinhead, but they cook in about the same time and are a lot cheaper.

I cook my oats with salt at a simmer, uncovered. For the Pinhead and bulk oats I find that The first 10 or 15 minutes don't require any attention. After that, you do have to be in the kitchen to stir. What works for me is 3 c water to a generous 2/3 c oats to make two portions. If you can busy yourself in the kitchen making coffee or getting other breakfast stuff ready or making bag lunches or whatever for the final half of the cooking time, it isn't really a lot of fussing.

I like them toasted too, but I find that the Pinhead oats don't actually need the boost, they are so tasty. Perhaps I should try toasting the bulk oats. I used to use regular long-cooking flaked or rolled oats, and I always toasted those. The toasting really improves the flavor and can be done in bulk ahead, and then the cooking time is very fast, compared to steel-cut oats. Not in the same league, but a lot better than Quaker instant, that's for sure.

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I adore steel-cut Irish oats like McCann's, and in a perfect world I'd have 'em ready to go every morning when I stumbled down the stairs. However, I don't really know how to do the overnight thing well.

Does anyone have a good method? I have a Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker; would the congee setting work overnight? Ratios? Help?!?

I use my Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker to make Bob's Red Mill steel cut oatmeal a couple of times per month and am very happy with the results.

I add 1 cup of oats and 3 to 4 cups water, select the porridge setting (the first time I tried one of the rice settings and it boiled over, making a sticky mess), and set the timer to have everything ready at 7am. This usually makes enough oatmeal for 3-4 days, and the keep-warm feature lets me just keep the oatmeal in the cooker the entire time. It does get a bit thicker on day 3 or 4, so I eventually increased the water:oat ratio to 4:1.

In the morning, all I have to do is take out some hot oatmeal from the cooker, add brown sugar, walnuts, raisins and milk -- easy!

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