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I have eaten quick cook oats for a while, but I now found a wholesale supplier selling what I think are old-fashioned oats. That is, the oats are larger and they seem less 'processed'. When I add water to them the water quickly turns white. Also see here.

My question is: should I soak/wash these oats, or can I just boil them straight away? With rice and beans I am used to having to soak or wash them, sometimes for a day. Not sure if the same applies here. If so, how long for? And should I use that water to cook them in, or throw it out and then add new water?

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    There are many websites claiming that soaking (and then discarding the water) removes phytates. Phytate is the salt of phytic acid, which is known to block mineral absorption. I cannot find a scientific study that firmly supports this, although ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021 (freely available) does suggest that many techniques used to prepare grains, such as milling and fermentation, do reduce phytates. – Mark Wildon Jan 21 at 11:23
  • @MarkWildon Seasoned Advice does not concern itself with the health aspects of cooking... just the cooking. The health aspects require a different skill-set, more suited to doctors & nutritionists than chefs. – Tetsujin Jan 21 at 13:43
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You don't even need to cook them, let alone soak them.
They form the bulk of most mueslis, to be eaten raw.

However, if you're going to be making porridge...
The basic recipe has as many variations as there are people who cook it, but take any or all of

  • Water
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Sugar [or honey or anything sweet]
  • Oats

Use approx 300ml liquid to 50g oats per person as a start point. Bring to the boil, simmer for 5 - 7 minutes depending on your desired consistency. Very "old fashioned" jumbo oats will still boil down to nearly mush if you leave them long enough, though most people want that bit of bite left to them.

Some make it thin, some make it thick. Some make it thick but then add cold milk to their dish. Some make it smooth, some leave it less-cooked still with big bits in. Some cook with the sugar in, some only add it at the end.
Some leave out the salt, though personally I think it's essential.

There is no hard & fast rule; make it how you like.

From comments...
The bigger & less refined the oat, the longer it will take to cook right down to a 'paste' - but often the entire idea of using big rustic oats is not to overcook them, but leave some bite.
I wouldn't dream of pre-soaking them, there's absolutely no need. If you want them cooked to paste, cook longer, or change back to a more refined brand. Some of the outer part will probably not cook right down anyway with very 'rustic' oats.

The Guardian - How to cook perfect porridge goes on at length about various methods, but comes down to pretty much what I've already written above, with no pre-soak [not one single mention of rinsing, btw, just don't do that].

  • OK got it, thanks! I read that old fashioned oats need a longer cooking (simmering) time to make porridge. Is that correct? And if I were to leave them in water overnight does that decrease the time they need to cook for? – user66551 Jan 21 at 10:57
  • The bigger & less refined the oat, the longer it will take to cook right down to a 'paste' - but often the entire idea of using big rustic oats is not to overcook them, but leave some bite. I wouldn't dream of pre-soaking them, there's absolutely no need. If you want them cooked to paste, cook longer, or change back to a more refined brand. Some of the outer part will probably not cook right down anyway with very 'rustic' oats. – Tetsujin Jan 21 at 11:03
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You should wash the oats anyway to remove dust and/or pollution that could be in the package.

Soaking oats only made them cook faster. Leaving them for a night to soak don't waste any energy and in the morning they can be prepared in less time with less heat for a shorter time.

The white water comes from starch. Just like in rice. Cooking them in this white water will make for good porridge and turn them into sort of pulp when cooking with fresh water will give you non sticky oats (just like non-stick rice). How to cook depends on how you like them and for what you want to use them.

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    No. Please don't wash oats. You'll wash half the taste away. They're far too delicate to wash, rinse or soak. – Tetsujin Jan 21 at 10:01
  • For 60 years I just simmered and ate oatmeal and didn't know it was dangerous. – blacksmith37 Jan 21 at 21:49

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