Rolled oats are a staple in many homes, particularly among frugal folks and those who react to gluten content. There’s lots of perks to using oats in your kitchen! Not only do they store well, but are cheap, a quick filler and in regards to baking, are quite versatile.
In spite of their commonness, few of us roll oats in our own kitchen and fewer of us know how simple (and nutritious) it really is!
About the Oat Seed
Oats first came to America in early 18oo. While oat crops are prolific in many countries besides the US and Canada, they are primarily used as livestock fodder. Less than 10% goes for human consumption.
To date, the oat seed has not been genetically modified. This is partially due to the low demand as a human food source and partially due to its chromosome complexity. Oats are free of gluten content.
Among grains consumed by humans, the oat is most difficult to clean due to its tight-clinging husk. It is also highest in fat content.
Parts of a Grain Seed
A seed of grain (regardless of type) consists of three parts: the bran, germ and endosperm.
Bran is the hard, outer coating that encompasses the contents of a seed. It contains the majority of vitamins, minerals and fiber, preserves and protects the other parts, known as the germ and endosperm.
The germ is a small pocket located at the base of each individual seed. It also contains minerals, vitamin E and vitamin B. The remaining portion consists of the endosperm, a white substance that makes up a large percentage of the seed. This part contains carbs and protein.
When oats are prepared for consumers, many of the above benefits are significantly reduced and in some cases, even lost.
Truth About Commercially Prepared Oats
Unless immediately refined, all grains go rancid when exposed to oxygen. Due to the oat’s high oil content, it goes rancid faster than all others. In order to make oats shelf stable, seeds are rinsed and thoroughly cleaned. They are then put through a steaming process and just after, prepared according to the style desired: steel-cut, rolled or quick oats.
Regardless of the type, steamed and prepared oats are toasted until desired dryness is achieved. This heating process takes place to disables fats and natural enzymes, making the product shelf stable and ready to use.
Why You Should Roll Your Own Oats
Rolling your own oats enables you to preserve the natural vitamins, fats and fiber found in whole grains. While pre-rolled oats are quick and easy to use, they are a refined food. Rolling your own grains at home is the only way to get full, rich benefits of unprocessed oats.
If you grind your own flour at home, its probably because you’ve come to recognize the benefits of fresh-ground flour? Take it to the next level by rolling your own oats as well!
What is a Oat Roller?
Oat rollers are often referred to as ‘grain flakers’ and they will flatten whole grain seeds for you. While primarily used for oats, its doesn’t stop there! Wheat, rye and barley are other common choices.
Home rolled oats don’t and shouldn’t have the same appearance as commercially steamed and flatten oats. When rolled in their raw, natural state, they will retain some of their “seed” shape.
A good flaker has an adjustable setting that allows you to control the thickness of the rolled grain. Flakers come with both manual and electric options. Though pricey, there are even grain flaker/grain grinder combos on the market!
Types Available for Your Kitchen
You can purchase a single grain flaking device (electric or manual) that sits on or attaches to your counter top. If you already own a Bosch or Kitchen Aid mixer, you can purchase electric flaker attachments for relatively cheap.
We currently have the manual KoMo manual flaker, which you can find here on Amazon for approx $140 (USD).
In western Canada, you can also find it amazon, or you can also purchase the KoMo brand through Fieldstone Organics. Prices vary from $180-$600+ (CAD). Australians have access to grain flakers via Skippy Grain Mills. Costs run from $188-$450 (AUD).
Sourcing Oat Grains
Depending on your location, you may have to do some sleuthing to uncover this particular grain in its natural state! Because rolling oats in the home is not a common practice, you may have to check with several companies. Often, whole oat seeds are referred to as ‘groats.’
Regardless of where we’ve lived, we quickly discovered that our best option for finding a good groat supplier is through word of mouth. When living in western Canada, we discovered there are many small-scale, all-natural grain farmers that sell locally and only locally. Once discovered, oats can be purchased in bulk as with any other grain.
3 Tips for Working with Fresh Oats
As with anything, when changing from processed to natural foods, there are adjustments that must be made. When working with oats in their natural form, there are three primary things to be aware of!
Tip #1: Purchase Well-Cleaned Oats
If purchasing groats for rolling at a small, local business, inquire about the cleanliness of the finished product. Oats are one of the most difficult grains to hull. Some small businesses sell oats for flour and a few hulls don’t matter. However, hulls in your morning porridge will make it un-chewable. Never use oats for rolling that were intended for livestock. Its more than likely they will have hulls intact.
Tip #2: Keep Oats from Turning Rancid
While groats will store for several years in their natural, whole-seed form, this changes when exposed to oxygen. Because of high fat content, home rolled oats will turn rancid very quickly, sometimes within a few day’s time. Save yourself needless waste by rolling oats only when ready to use. If this is inconvenient, roll a bagful and freeze until ready to cook, bake or consume! In every respect, treat freshly rolled oats as you would home-ground flour!
Tip #3: How to Cook and Use Fresh-Rolled Oats
Home rolled oats will soak up more liquid than you are accustomed to. When making porridge in mornings, double the amount of water or you’ll end up with a very stiff breakfast. It doesn’t stop there. When baking, you’ll have to add more liquid than the recipe calls for. Also be aware that home-baked goods containing freshly rolled oats will turn rancid sooner. If bread, muffins or cookies aren’t going to be consumed in 3-5 days time, freeze until ready to eat.
Bonus of Using Fresh Rolled Oats
Not only does rolling oats in your own home afford the benefits of whole food in its natural, unadulterated state, but it has superior flavor. After consuming freshly rolled oats, you won’t go back! They have an incredibly rich, nut-like flavor whether consumed in a porridge or used in baking.
Julianne Graves says
If I don’t have a dehydrator how long will rolled oats last in the fridge
Julianne, I dont know about the fridge. I’ve never tried that one! But I do keep them in the freezer after they’ve been rolled. And they’ll last for months when sealed up in a ziploc bag!
I have sprouted my oat groats and then put them through my manual pasta roller. It works great. I just don’t like how long it takes…..can I sprout my oat groats before putting through flakers?
Hi Lisa! If you sprouted and then dehydrated oats, I think rolling would work. But I doubt wet, sprouted grain would go through a manual flaker. But I’ve never actually tried sprouting and then rolling any type of grain. Let me know how it goes if you do make the effort!
Hi! I’m curious if you’ve tried your home-rolled oats in granola and how thy differ from commercial rolled oats. Thanks!
I have! They are a bit tougher to chew, but they work well. The key thing to note is that granola will spoil much faster when made with home rolled oats. Keep your granola in the freezer if you won’t use it all up in 12-14 day’s time. 🙂
Troy K says
My wife andI have planted oats for the first time this year, here in Romania, originally from Canada I farmed with my family when I was a child… We delivered our grain crops to a grain elevator for sorting/cleaning and shipping. We were not involved in processing the grains of oats etc. We harvested with a Combine, and a swathe to cut the stems and lay the cut ripened plants in rows. However, this year I want to harvest by hand sythe, thresh (or separate the grains from the straw) by hand, as well as roll the oats suitable for human cunsumption.
Can I get your advice on this endeavor?
Can I make my own rolling machine quite easily? Could you provide us with a picture of a rolling machine you have used or would recommend?
Thanks for your info and help!
Kindest regards… T&F
Hi Troy! Great questions, but the truth is that I’m just a homemaker who buys already cleaned oats and sends them through a small, countertop manual grain flaker for morning porridge and baking. While I wish I could help you, I’m not qualified to answer your questions about growing and selling. I am intrigued by the idea of harvesting with a scythe though! Been a long time since I used one. I truly hope you do find answers to your questions and good luck!
Hello, we have been on the plant base diet 6 mths . I noticed stiff fingers in the morning when started this diet along with digestive gas. Learnt to lessen gas using instant pot. Suddenly the stiff painful finger problem started at higher level. In researching I read LECTINS are in legumes, chickpeas & grains. WE LOVE OUR OATS FOR BREAKFAST. I have stopped it all. A friend just started rolling her own oats. QUESTION : if you roll & eat your oats immediately do they have less LECTIN?Is the Lectin problem more to do with the process to store them long term ?
If you are reacting to lectin, I’d suggest soaking or fermenting things like beans, oats, etc. Home rolled oats will most certainly contain high amounts of lectin.
It also could be that your body doesn’t do well with a plant based diet (like mine) and that you need animal fats and proteins to be healthy. If you need ideas for fermenting your grains and seeds, you may want to check out this website:https://traditionalcookingschool.com/
It’s one I use from time to time!
Try pressure cooking your oats in the morning. Dr. Gundry’s lectin free eating plan relies on a good pressure cooker. Although it doesn’t work on gluten it would be worth trying on oats.
John Brosnan says
Right now (April of 2020) it’s difficult to find any kind of a grain grinder. But I think I saw something about using a coffee grinder to grind oats for oatmeal and for oat milk. Anyone have experience with this? Thanks.
You likely could make steel-cut style oats with a coffee grinder and if you have a large blender, could make a rough oat flour by sending groats through it. But you can also eat oats in whole form after soaking and cooking them! Hope that helps!
Is it in the long both tastier and cheaper to roll your own oats? We use a lot of oats at our house and I’m ondering where I could save a little money. If you dump in 1 cup groats to you get 1 cup flakes back, or less due to shape change? Thanks!
Home rolled oats are without a shadow of a doubt, tastier! 🙂 They are also more filling and nutritious. Expect to consume LESS with home rolled oats. If you send 1 C of oat grains thru a grain flaker, you can expect to get nearly 2 C of rolled oats. The same goes for other soft grains! Just remember you’ll have to adjust the liquid content in your recipes when using home rolled oats. They soak up alot more liquid! Good luck!
Wendy Nabhan says
Hi Autumn, I’ve been rolling or flaking my own oats for several years now and I eat them raw with homemade Almond milk, banana and in season berries. Lately I’ve had the idea to roll my own barley. However, I can’t find any information about this. Do you know anything? Do I need to cook the barley groats first? I don’t with the oats, but I’ve been reading that people do that for making hops. But since that’s not my intent, do I still need to do that? I would appreciate any advice you might have.
Sounds tasty! Yes, you can roll just about any grain! No pre-soaking or pre cooking necessary! Rye, barley, spelt and wheat all roll just like oats. You can use them in the same manner!
I can not find oat grains in my country and no online shops either. could I use wheat grain and roll them, will they work same as oat???
Yes, you most certainly can roll wheat, rye, barley and any of the other whole grains! The flavor will vary according to type. We use our grain roller for a variety of grains. Just be aware that they may vary in how much water they absorb. Good luck!
Autumn I want to roll my own oats at home and your article explains a lot but I’m still confused about a lot of it. Would it be possible to correspond through email with you to get more questions answered?
Sure thing! The process is very simple. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello! Do you soak or steam the oat groats before rolling? And if you do, do you soak them in an acid medium or just water and for how long? Thank you!
Joanna, I don’t soak the oats before rolling! I just pour them in, roll ’em and then in baking or for porridge. Hope that helps! 🙂