I am trying to make simple oatmeal (steel cut), and on the package the directions say to boil milk, add the oats, then simmer for 25 minutes. But the milk is starting to get a film on top and is becoming a cheese-like consistency which doesn't look too appetizing in my oatmeal. Up until now I've always boiled oats in water and added cold milk after. Is this desirable?

I should add that the milk is actually a bit old and while past the expiration date, still smells okay and has not spoiled yet. This is also my first time making steel cut oats but I doubt that makes a difference.

  • When you say cheese-like... is it actually cheese-like? Or is it just the starch in the oats thickening the milk, as intended?
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 4:28
  • The film is pretty thick and I would say the consistency of melted cheese, didn't seem to be mixing back into the oats well. I was able to lift it out with a spoon. I wish I knew a bit more about chemistry to say what the behavior is for sure, it could certainly be from the oats. Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 4:51
  • @starmandeluxe the "melted cheese" thickness you describe is exactly what people want to achieve when making oatmeal. If you want muesli (liquid milk with oats and other stuff swimming freely in it), use no-cook oats and cold milk.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 17:11
  • I'm not so sure about that. I've had "good" oatmeal and the oats blended in with the milk perfectly. In my case, the cheesy milk film was completely separate from the oats themselves, like I said I could lift it out with a spoon separate from the oats themselves. Not the most appetizing texture or taste. I would rather figure out how to get around this than cop out for instant oats. I'll definitely give it another try. Commented Jan 31, 2013 at 18:03

2 Answers 2


Yes, it's fine to boil milk - or at least to simmer it. Milk gets really foamy when it boils, and tends to boil over, so you probably don't want to actually boil it, but rather quickly turn the heat down when it shows signs of boiling, and let it simmer. It does develop a film on top sometimes, but nothing that can't just be stirred in and dissolved, and you should be stirring your oats reasonably frequently anyway so they don't stick to the bottom.

  • Thank you, the behavior you described is exactly what was happening. After boiling it foamed so much it almost overflowed, and when I turned it down it started making the film. All in all it didn't taste like my ideal oatmeal, so I'll probably go with the boil-water-and-add-cold-milk-after method next time Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 4:52
  • @starmandeluxe It could be worth one more try, stirring a bit more frequently while it cooks, and with some care to avoid excessive boiling, which might've affected the flavor. But if it's just that you don't like too much milk (you prefer it diluted with a bit of water), then sure, cook in water first.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 16:10

I make a huge bowl of cereal with milk every morning. With brown sugar, raisins and/or mashed-bananas thrown in.

I have never had trouble with boiling milk. I have always drunk boiled milk since as a kid. I don't think boiling the cereal in water first is helpful. That would dilute and bland the milky taste of the boiled cereal. Unless that is the intention.

Characterise the microwave

Every time I get to use another microwave oven, it would take me a few days to "characterize" the microwave oven. "Characterization" is an engineering statistical practice of observing the behaviour of a system in order to effectively use that system.

Characterizing a microwave behaviour is a much simpler affair than industrial systems characterisation.

In the case of making cereal with milk, characterising the timing and power levels that would churn the cereal but prevent it from spilling is a very satisfying experience.

As I do not use processed oats, I have to bring it to a boil and then let the bowl of cereals sit for half an hour for the oat soften and almost dissolve. Since usually, morning is such a rush, I have decided to microwave the bowl of cereals at night before I go to sleep so that I simply need to warm the bowl of cereals up in the morning. I set and start the microwave and walk away to do other things - perfect each time.

Or use a slow cooker

But then, of course, you could invest in a cheap little slow cooker and start the cooking at night. I am thinking that the highest heat setting should be used, so that the bubbling would churn the concoction to prevent lumping of milk.

In the morning, you would have a nice warm pot of cereals where the oat has dissolved into the milk. Turn the power to the lowest or off. though you might still have to stir it to even out the distribution.

Then slice in bananas, throw in raisins or lychees and let them sit in there for 10 minutes. Then serve with sliced apples or apple sauce or cinnamon or have a super supreme of every thing.

You should reuse the pot for the next morning's cereal without needing to wash it - provided you do not introduce bacteria by directly eating from the pot. Just wash the clay pot once/twice a week. With the current state of the planet, we seriously need to reduce our water usage and avoid obsessive compulsive washing.

  • In general, the highest heat setting on a slow cooker overnight, even covered, is going to foam up, boil off a lot of liquid, and tend toward overcooking the oats. The OP wasn't asking about how to boil milk in a microwave (or a slow cooker), though, or what you like to eat your oatmeal with, just if boiling the milk is what caused a strange texture.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 30, 2013 at 16:09

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