Oats are a whole grain, and they come in four different forms, depending on how they are processed: steel-cut, rolled, instant and groats. Oat groats are the whole oat berry, similar in size to a wheat berry, and are known to cook up plump and sweet and burst with a nice little “pop” when you bite them. Soaking oat groats before cooking will shorten cooking time and can help to neutralize the naturally occurring phytates found in whole grain, thus improving digestion. Soaked goats can also be dehydrated and cooked later, used in granola recipes or ground for use as flour.
Benefits of Soaking
All whole grains contain enzyme inhibitors – known as phytates – that can cause digestion problems and prevent nutrients from being properly absorbed by the body. Soaking whole grains overnight in an acidic bath helps to break down those difficult-to-digest enzymes. Oat groats are a whole grain with an especially high amount of phytates.
How to Soak
You can soak your oat groats anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. The longer the soak time, the more the phytates will be neutralized. To soak 1 cup of whole oat groats, cover them with 2 cups of room-temperature water in a container large enough to allow the grain to swell. Add 1 tablespoon of an acidic neutralizer such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Fermented dairy products such as kefir can also be used and will result in a more sour taste. To boost the breakdown of the anti-nutrients, add 1 tablespoon of rolled rye flakes, wheat flour or buckwheat groats. Cover and leave at room temperature.
Dehydrating After Soaking
Before drying your soaked groats, rinse them in a sieve with fresh water to reduce any sour residue left from the soaking process. Spread the rinsed groats out before drying, and set your food dehydrator to 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Dehydrating will take anywhere from six to 24 hours, depending on your dehydrator. Allow your groats to cool before storing. A few quick pulses in the food processor will help to break them up for use in granola recipes or later cooking; to make oat flour, pulse the dried groats in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder until the desired flour texture is achieved.
Cooking With Oat Groats
Soaking dehydrated oat groats before cooking reduces your overall cook time anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes, depending on the soak time and method used. A softer, less-chewy grain will result. You can also add dehydrated oat groats to soups and stews in place of barely or brown rice to add body and texture. Oat flour in baked goods adds nutrients and moisture, but when baking yeast breads, it should not comprise more than 25 percent of your total flour due to its low gluten content. To enjoy whole oat groats without soaking, use one part grain to three parts water and plan for an hour of cooking time.
- Nourishing Traditions; Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD
- Mother Earth News: Whole Grains Guide
- The Nourishing Home: How to Soak Grains for Optimal Nutrition
- Photo Credit Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images