Making Oatmeal

These instructions are for Steel Cut Oats and Quick Cooking Steel Cut Oats. The quick-cooking oats are rolled slightly when milled, so they cook faster. The regular steel cut oats can be started the night before. Finish cooking in the AM before eating. (Saves valuable morning time.)

Good Morning Method

Start heating some water in your kettle.

UNIT of OATS? Put a unit of oats of either kind in your pan. A Unit could be anywhere between ⅛ cup and ⅓ cup. Add a generous pinch of salt.

GOODIES. Add any optional items: dried cherries, raisins, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chopped nuts, a dried prune, et cetera — but not too many goodies!

Ingredients before boiling water..

UNITS of WATER. Add boiling or very hot water:

COOK. Stir to get any air out of the oats. Bring back to boil for a couple minutes. Turn heat down to LOW for a couple more minutes. Turn OFF the heat, cover with the lid, and let it cook.

EAT. Put it in a bowl. Add a sweetener (brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey) and cream. Slurp it up. Chew your food well.

TIME. Bob's Red Mill recommends 10-20 (20!) minutes total cooking time for their Steel Cut Oats, and 5-7 minutes total for Quick Cooking Oats. You can cook Steel Cut Oats the night before to reduce the time needed in the morning, so you can Catch the Bus [LINK].

Night-Before Alternative

Just bring your mix to a boil for a little while when you can be in the kitchen to keep an eye on it (like doing dishes or clean up). Then just turn it off and cover it with lid. The heat in the pan and water will continue to cook the oats just right, allowing them to absorb the hot water. Leave on stovetop overnight.

I turn off the burner after it starts bubbling nicely, then cover the whole pot and lid with an improvised felt cap cozy. This holds the heat in longer, allowing it to continue cooking without adding heat. (The pot is a 1 QT FARBERWARE 18/10 Stainless Steel with impact-bonded even-heat distribution bottom [aluminum core], and a glass top. The pot has some 'heat capacity' if you know what I mean.)

In the morning, break it up in the pan, add a splash of water and re-heat on low while you make that coffee.

Apple/Fruit Option

Cut up half an apple or pear (Pink Lady, Opal, Bartlett...) and add to the cooking mixture in the evening. I have added plums or other locally 'found fruit' in the fall.

Cooked oatmeal with apples, dried cherries and prune.

Wait till the cereal starts bubbling again before turning it off for the night.

In the case of a large apple, I cut up half and add to the cooking oatmeal. I refigerate the other half for the next batch.

Pre-measured dry portions

Once/week I fill little flexible containers with the dry ingredients so that I can put one unit in the pan, add boiling water, fresh fruit and cook as above. In the morning, add a sweetener and H&H.

Just the oats, mam.
Goodies added
Salt & Hemp added
Lids on! Ready for ten more days, +1..

I developed this idea prior to a retreat. It allows me to enjoy oatmeal without taking all my larger containers. I can just take my cooking pot, the little containers, some whole fruit, brown sugar, and H&H — and I am set. (I found the nifty 4 oz Lusterware KEEPERS at The Container Store — $1.49 each.)

Why +1? When I refill the 10 keepers, I also set up my pan for that evening's batch. So, in practice, I get 11 days of oatmeal out of 10 keepers! (I recently picked up 2 more Keepers, for a total of 12.)


Do not tightly cover your pan while you are boiling, or re-heating on low — it'll get all bubbly, bubble over, and make a mess.

Don't try to re-heat in the A.M. without breaking it up first. It may explode. This danger is reduced when apple chunks are added, as they provide natural fault lines.

Boiling Water (Duh!)

Since I originally wrote this, I got an electric speed kettle which quickly boils water, then idles. This helps simplify the process, as previously the kettle-on-gas-range had to be closely monitored, not boiled dry, etc..

Other Methods

Some people make a big batch once a week and keep the meal refrigerated, taking out a portion to microwave in AM. You can also use a small crockpot overnight for slow cooking. (That may take more energy than necessary.) A double boiler is a great way to avoid scorching the cereal if you are easily distracted like I am — That's why I putter around in kitchen while it's cooking. I turn it off, cover, and leave it to cook with residual heat.. similar to the Japanese 'donabe' (?) rice cooker pot kept overnight in an insulated box.

Steel Cut vs Rolled vs Quick-Cooking vs Scottish

Rolled oats give a softer mushy disgusting texture. I prefer the chewier nuttier results that the cut oats give. The Quick Cooking Oats are a nice compromise. I've read that you can pan-toast rolled oats to give them a better flavor and more interesting texture.

Bob's Red Mill makes a Scottish Oatmeal, but Bob's millers changed years ago to a much too fine mill, in my opinion (and Bob's too) but he let them do it. It just makes PORRIDGE MUSH! They won their recent Golden Spurtle award using steel cut oats! Duh. You can watch Bob talk about his Scottish Oatmeal on his YouTube channel.


Pickles by Brian Crane for February 19, 2020

Earl and Nelson