Everyone knows that oatmeal is a healthy food, and the further up the chain to the whole grain, the better. However, cooking steel-cut oats, which is the least processed type of oatmeal available, can take 30 minutes or more to cook. That is not going to happen for breakfast in most homes. On top of that, it is not a summer food. Hot oatmeal is not the first thing that pops into the breakfast plan when the forecast calls for a 90 degree day.
With one little trick that takes almost no time, you can remove every reason to bypass oatmeal. Soaking steel-cut oats overnight in the fridge turns long-cooking oats into a 3-minute, almost instant version. If you like chewy-grain cereal, it also creates a ready-to-serve cold cereal.
The method is simple. Take 1 cup of steel-cut oats, and cover generously with water — at least two times the amount of oats. Put in the fridge overnight. That’s it. By morning it is ready.
Note: Some people like to soak the oatmeal in milk, but I find that soaking in water works well, and makes the soaked grain easier to cook. I soak far more than I need for one breakfast, and keep the soaked oats in the fridge so I can have easy access to both cooked and cold cereal.
The finished, uncooked version is featured at the start of this article, but you can also create a quick, cooked version. For each serving, put 1/3 cup of the soaked oats into a microwave-safe container, and add just enough water to cover. One serving takes about 3 minutes to cook, 5 minutes for two. Or, place the soaked oats and water into a saucepan, and bring to a boil. It may be cooked enough for your taste as soon as it boils. If not, simmer for a minute or two.
For this version, I added dried cranberries, honey and vanilla before cooking. Milk was added to the cooked cereal.
If you have not tried steel-cut oats, you must try them. I have always loved the chewy texture of low-process grains, but until I started soaking them, like many of you, it was just too much trouble. Even cooking them overnight in the crock pot, which works well, was often too much trouble at bedtime, the earliest possible time I consider breakfast. However, putting water on oats is simple enough to do even as I turn off the lights for the night.