It is possible to just eat porridge (oats) after soaking in water for a couple minutes.

However, cooking it makes it creamier and softer.

I'm interested in knowing if cooking the oats actually changes them in some way (besides the heat), and if there is technically a difference between cooking vs. not cooking. (e.g. is it the case that if I leave it to soak for a longer period without heating, it could achieve the same softness?)

1 Answer 1


Yes, there is a chemical difference.

When you cook the porridge, the starch from the oats thickens the milk like a pudding. You don't get the effect (propper name, anyone?) by just soaking them. Just as you will never get a firm pudding without cooking.

What you prefer taste-wise is a completely different question.

  • The proper name is gelation, the point at which it happens is between 90 and 100 celsius (different for starches of different plants, I don't know it for oats). It's a very interesting process, well worth reading up, but right now I don't have the time to pull the books out and summarize. It's described in McGee's On Food and Cooking, if anybody cares to write a summary here, I'll upvote.
    – rumtscho
    Dec 11, 2014 at 13:09
  • Does this still apply if you use water instead of milk? Dec 11, 2014 at 14:43
  • 1
    @CaptainCodeman: Of course. We're talking about the reaction that happens when starch and liquid reach a certain temperature.
    – Stephie
    Dec 11, 2014 at 15:00
  • 1
    To be fair, you might get some additional interactions from the proteins, fats, and other substances in the milk, but that would be in addition to the gelation. You'll get the same effect from virtually any water-based liquid.
    – logophobe
    Dec 11, 2014 at 19:51

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