A soaked disaster

Not-so-yummy oatmeal

Our oatmeal this morning was a disaster. Did you know it was possible to ruin oatmeal? It is. Let me tell you how I did it. ;)

Last night I was getting ready for bed and thought about breakfast for the next day -- oatmeal.

Now, we all know that the really good, truly health-conscious wives and mothers are the ones who soak their grains before they use them.

I had been meaning to try soaking some grain for our breakfast cereal, and here was my chance -- my brain was actually still functioning at 10pm!

I put some steel cut oats in a pan, added enough water to sufficiently cover, stirred, and put the lid on. In the morning, I added some more water (though they weren't dry, I knew they would absorb more water during cooking) and put the pan on the stove to cook.

I stood there stirring until the oatmeal came to a boil, and then cooked and stirred. I added more water. I tasted the oatmeal. It tasted horrible! Starchy, pasty, gooey, blobby. So gross!

I kept stirring, cooking, and tasting. I stirred because my pans are thin and burn easily. I cooked and tasted, hoping that somehow during the cooking process, that awful pastey flavor would disappear.

It didn't. :( The oatmeal was survivable with some salt, brown sugar, and milk. And a little more brown sugar than usual.

Even the boys noticed the odd taste, despite the extra sugar I put in theirs, and opted for a banana instead.

Joshua's reaction? First, he asked where in the world I had gotten the idea to soak the oats. (Yes, I named names -- you know who you are!!!! ;D) Then, after tasting the oatmeal, he said "Never again. This is awful!"

What did I do wrong? Did I totally mess up the process of soaking, or do people actually consume oatmeal that tastes like glue?


I think they have to be whole grains--in this case, oat groats instead of steel cut or flaked oats.

I only soak oats for the blender batter waffle recipe from Sue Gregg, and for those I use a mix of whole oats and wheat berries, soaked overnight and then blended.

I'll be interested to see how others handle cooked oatmeal by soaking first.

Meredith from Merchant Ships

I soaked my steel cut oats before I read about soaking grains for health's sake- they cook faster soaked overnight. They taste the same as unsoaked just cooked faster. I soak the oats in a bowl with half the cooking water (meaning if I need 2 cups of water to cook them I soak them in one cup). In the morning, I bring to a boil the other half of the cooking liquid (1 cup in the above example) and add the soaked oats as is and cook like instant (or old fashioned rolled) oatmeal. Since reading about soaking grains (like the Nourshing Traditions cookbook) I sometimes add the yogurt, whey, or lemon juice and find that the oatmeal taste faintly fermented but my family still likes it and the flavor is rather subtle. Soaking in plain water however just greatly shortens the cooking time making steel cut oats cook like instant oatmeal.
Courtney F.

I hope you found your answer. Only steele cut oatmeal are to be soaked.

I soak my steel cut oats and have never had a problem. Did you add an acid to the soaking liquid to help neutralize the phytic acid? If you didn't add a couple of tablespoons of acid (whey, yogurt, lemon juice or vinegar), this could be your problem. I think the ratio is 1 Tbsp. of acid for every cup of water.

Here's my method for steel cut oats:
*1/2 c. oats
*1 1/2 c. water
*1-2 Tbsp lemon juice (I just use bottled lemon juice)
*Soak from around 10pm until ready to cook
*Then add more water (usually about 1 c.) and cook as normal. Occassionally I have to add even MORE water during cooking.
*Cook appx. 10-15 min., stirring frequently

Hope this helps.

I know nothing about soaking oats but I can tell you that, yes, I've found that some people really DO eat oatmeal that tastes like glue! Instant oatmeal made with water and no milk or sugar anyone? (Okay, well, it tasted like glue to me anyway.)


When I was a child, I couldn't eat oatmeal because it always tasted like glue to me(my father doesn't like it either so I didn't have to eat it;)). But when I grew up I tried making it once and it tasted great and wasn't gluey at all. I'm no expert on oatmeal but for me the difference was that my mother usually stirred the oatmeal quite a lot while I just let it boil and hardly stirr at all. I don't soak my oatmeal so can't say if that had anything to do with it, but if you want to give it another try, use a pan that you can leave the oatmeal boiling without stirring. And if you soak the oatmeal shouldn't boiling time be even shorter?

I have heard a lot about soaking lately, but don't have any whole grains to soak. Thanks for trying it, Tammy, and letting us know about your results! Not that they were edible, but hopefully I will learn the proper procedure here (seems to be a lot of variation out there, you know?). :)
Sorry about your oatmeal - hopefully today's breakfast is very yummy!!

Sorry... I would have been disappointed here too. I have not used steel cut oats, so no advice. Hopefully today, you are enjoying a lovely breakfast!!

~Tanya - mama to 5 :)

I normally soak my oatmeal (flaked) and go by the Nourishing Traditions recipe.
1c. oats
1c. water
2Tbsp acid (kefir, ect)

But I found they taste waaaaaay better when I rinse them the next morning before putting them in fresh water (another 1/2 cup to one cup) to cook on the stove. Less glue-y and it doesn't have the taste of weird kefir at all!

and just an fyi, stirring oats while cooking can change the texture. not the taste though!

The acidic soak is intended to break down the insoluble compound of phytic acid and a mineral. When you rinse it after soaking, I expect you would wash away and lose the minerals and the phosphorus which was part of the phytic acid. These are good nutrients.

Interesting. I just made soaked steel cut oats yesterday morning and they turned out great. Definitely NOT gluey or goopy. My kids actually finished them cold last night for a snack. I agree with another poster that probably the key is an acid. I used whey.

I do let them sit overnight though.

Try this: 3 cups water to 1 cup steel cut oats, pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil, cook at low heat for 15 minutes and turn the heat off. Cover and let sit on the back of the stove overnight. In the morning, reheat and serve as you normally would. You get that nice oat texture this way, without the glop.

Definitely need to add an acid medium while soaking. I use whey and my oats always turn out yummy. Although yesterday I forgot to add salt to the cooking water once I started to cook the oats and they definitely had a more pasty taste. With the acid medium and a tsp. of salt added to the cooking water mine usually turn out delicious!

I have soaked the baked oatmeal recipe overnight and we MUCH prefer it unsoaked. I know it's a lot healthier soaked but the texture was just all off. :(

I'll be watching the comments for a solution to that!

Hi Tammy, I'm a lurker who found you from another blog. I make s-c-oats all the time. The night before I want to eat them, I put 1 c of oats in the cooking pot, boil 4 c of water in the microwave, and pour it over the oats and cover them. The next morning, I stir, bring them to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook gently until done. They absorb all of the water and come out delicious. I add a pinch of salt, some cinnamon, and some vanilla at the very end of cooking. I will also add dried cherries to mine, but my family doesn't like the cherries so I have to do that separately. The main key here is to use a ratio of 1:4, oats to water.

Best wishes for your next try!

Daily Thread (dailythread.wordpress.com)

Hi Tammy, my pans are thin too and I often have trouble with things sticking or burning. For a few bucks at the hardware store I bought an "insulator" thing with a handle on it. It goes on the burner under the pan and makes the heat more indirect so it is less likely to scorch.

I soak steel cut all the time. I use a little apple cidar vinegar and in the morning turn the pot on and slow boil for 10 minutes. Before chucking it in try another kind from another store once before. They should be slightly crunchy and chewy but not glue like. Good luck.

I soak oatmeal, but only for pancake/waffle batter. I use thinned yogurt (I usually don't have buttermilk on hand).

I think the soaking medium has to be slightly acidic to work?

I've tried soaking grains three times now - and they've all been huge disasters. In our house - a huge disaster occurs when kids and hubs proclaim the food unedible and I end up eating the food for three days in a row because I feel guilty about throwing it away!

I'll be checking back here to see if anyone has any tried and true recipes to recommend! Is there a 'soaking expert' out there who can convince me to try again? :)

Oh Tammy, I'm sorry this didn't work out for you. Personally, I have never heard of soaking steel cut oats. Wheat berries, yes, but not oats.

It is tempting to try to save time in the morning though.:) I tried making oatmeal in the crockpot once... that was another disaster. It was like wallpaper paste in the morning.*grin*


We use steel cut oats for our soaked porridge, using Nourishing Traditions' recipe, too, but more water while it is cooking. (It's never ended up gluey to us.)

1 cup oats
1 cup warm filtered water, plus 2 Tbl whey, yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk
Soak overnight.

Then add:
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cups filtered water
1 Tbl flax seeds (optional)
Bring to a boil, then add soaked oats. Reduce heat and cover, simmering several minutes. Then stir in ground flax seeds. Serve with butter or cream, and a natural sugar. (We like raw honey or organic maple syrup!)

For muesli, we soak (along with the oats):
1/4 cup almond slivers
1/4 cup dried coconut
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Then, after cooking, we add:
1/4 cup of raisins, along with the flax seeds.

I hope you'll give soaking a try again! It really can be delicious. Sorry your first attempt was disappointing! :)


Hi Tammy,
I buy steel-cut oats at the health food store, and I cook them the following way (approx--since I don't have my cookbook here!):

Toast 1 cup of oats in 2 T of butter in a small pan.

Bring 1 cup of whole milk to a simmer in a pan with 3 cups of water.

Stir in toasted oats. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt (1/4t?). Stir for last 6-8 minutes with handle of wooden spoon until consistency is like pudding. Serve and eat :)

That sounds exactly like the America's Test Kitchen recipe for oatmeal.

:) That's because the same folks wrote both cookbooks.

Here's the method my mom taught me:

Put your steel-cut oats and water (and salt if you use it) in the pan, bring it to a boil, then cover and let it sit overnight. In the morning, turn it on and cook. It should not take nearly as long to cook as unsoaked oats do. It just tastes like cooked oats..should not have a bad taste at all.


Forgive my denseness, but what is it about soaking that makes it healthier?

Dear Anonymous,

One of the benefits of soaking whole grains is that it neutralizes phytic acid.It has been said that phytic acid binds with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and blocks their absorption. My mom also has an allergy for wheat but she has no problem eating wheat (whole wheat flour) that has been soaked. I think that oatmeal tastes better when it is soaked using the Nourishing Traditions recipe for breakfast porridge. A little butter and maybe some raw honey on top will top this breakfast off for our family!

Seeds, nuts and grains all contain a protective enzyme that releases once it hits either the water or the ground. This protects it from breaking down before it is ready to "sprout." The enzyme though is not good for us - toxic and hard to digest. Soaking releases the enzyme and "sprouts" the food, making it alive - the nutrients are then available and accessible to our bodies.

Someone above said to soak overnight and then rinse. Yes! rinse, otherwise, you are simply cooking the enzyme back into the food - pointless! That's why the original writer's oats were bad.
As far as cooking grains and oats, my best solution? Soak during the day and then at night, put them in a slow cooker (for oats, 2 cups oats and 6 cups spring water) overnight on low. You wake up to creamy delicious hot oats. You can add nuts, fruit, seeds, spices, whatever. The rest we wrap and have ready for a healthy breakfast for at least a week or more. They are easy to reheat in the microwave. We also eat them straight out of the fridge with milk over them and maple syrup - I thought my kids would never go for this, but they did!

Enjoy! Carin

from Nourishing Traditions, and my steel cut oats always turn out nicely. I'm sorry you had trouble with yours. It's so disappointing when that sort of thing happens.

It looks like you've gotten a lot of advice already :) . I like chewy oatmeal, so we almost always use less water than usual and then add milk at the table - to however thin you like it.

I still always forget to soak oatmeal and rice. When I soak the brown rice, I usually drain off the soaking water and then add fresh water in a proportion of about 1 and 1/4 to 1. Then it cooks up and is still toothsome. I hate mushy anything.

Hi Tammy,
I don't do anything scientific, but with all my "eating" oats I put them in a food processor for a little bit to make them more like instant oats. Then the night before put them in the pan I will cook them in and cover in water. In the morning I just do what you did.
Don 't know what steel cut oats are, but I just get mine whole and then whiz them up as I said.
Hope this helps!

I'm sorry, Tammy! Was I, uh, one of the names named? :)

All the previous commenters gave you great advice. I'd agree about needing something acidic (I usually use yogurt or kefir or whey). If you find you don't like the taste from the acid, rinsing it will reduce that.

I also think it probably had something to do with the stirring. When I cook mine, I only bring it to just boiling, then turn it right down to low with the lid on, and walk away from it.

I'm sorry your experience was bad, but give it at least one more try before you discount the idea, ok? It really does work.

Don't you hate food disasters? I must admit, I love the link to Tammy's disasters, because I know I'm not alone. LOL! Let us know how it works next time, please!

Stephanie (aka the one who might have instigated this problem!)

We use the above posted recipe for soaking (from Nourishing Traditions) with no issues. I wouldn't give up on it though, the health benefits are worth the trial and error. :)
God Bless,

Some of the homeschooling emails I get have recommended putting the oats in a crock pot or slow cooker and letting them cook all night. That way in the morning you have a wonderful hot meal ready to go.
I can't find the email right now, but maybe if you do a couple of searches on the net you could find it.
God Bless,

Hi Tammy,

Just a suggestion. Have you tried having them cold?

I love my Bircher Muesli, and usually soak my oats in juice/ yoghurt overnight along with some dried fruits as desired.

In the morning, I will slice some banana, throw in a handful of berries, stir in milk and there you go ;) To boost the fiber content, you can add a teaspoon of flaxseed meal or nuts/seeds too :)

Hope your next adventure will be better.

- Missy

If we make steel-cut oats, we use the rice cooker and set the timer for the morning. So they soak overnight in the water. We haven't had any problems doing this, and we don't add an acid. But a rice cooker isn't something everyone has--we wouldn't except ours was a wedding present. :)

When I make oatmeal, I bring the water to a boil and dump the oats (I use rolled oats) in and let it cook for about 15 minutes, ( I don't time it. :P) And then we eat it with milk and brown sugar. It's delicious. I also put chopped apples and cinnamon in with it too. That's the best!
I never heard of soaking oats...it would definitely make it into to glue.

I eat steel cut oats every day for breakfast. Sometimes I soak them overnight, sometimes I cook them in the crockpot overnight, sometimes I cook them in the morning according to the wonderful recipe from _The Best Recipe_ (above). I've never had them come out like glue. I think you stirred them too much. _The Best Recipe_ recommends stirring with the handle of a wooden spoon, and only sparingly. There is actually a traditional scottish implement for stirring oatmeal. I think it's called a spirtle? It doesn't have a big paddly end like a spoon.

I have an electric "multicooker" which I love. Just an electric stockpot, basically. I put 2.5 cups of water and one cup of milk in it with a cup of oats, soak overnight, then turn it on in the morning to cook. Always yummy. Another good recipe is overnight crockpotting: one cup of oats, 3.5 cups water, one cup half-and-half or heavy cream, and a cup of dried fruit such as cranberries. Turn it on low and enjoy a hot breakfast in the morning.

If all you have is rolled oats on hand... here's what I do...

I would say I make them according to the box.. but I don't. I've been making them so long that I don't need to really measure any more and I can add or subtract the amount to hunger or persons.

Anyway, after making the rolled oats, just as I'm pulling them off the heat.. I toss in another handful of the dried oats. It gives the oatmeal a delightful texture that my family just loves. I don't add any flavorings because we each like it our own way. Hubby likes it with syrup, milk and brown sugar, I like it with butter milk and brown sugar. But we both like the little bits of chewy oats and it really sticks with you all the way up to lunch (and beyond for me many days.

A little off topic because we don't use steel cut oats, but a little tip I thought someone might be able to use.


My grandmother always cooked rolled oats with milk. (So now I can't imagine eating any cereal made with just water!) However, does anyone soak steel cut oats in milk? Or, after soaking, cook them with just milk?

After writing that, I figured, just try it. So for several mornings now I've made oatmeal from steel cut oats that I soaked overnight (first brought to boiling) in an equal amount of whey and then added an equal amount of milk the next morning. I've kept the whole mass in the fridge, and take out a 1/3 cupful each morning, to which I add 2/3 cups milk and cook in the microwave. Next I plan to bake cookies with it to see how they taste.

I use rolled oats. Equal proportions to soak. Cook in an equal proportion additonal water. Boil water with sea salt. Add oatmeal and bring to SIMMER for 5 minutes. For your thinner pot, no need to bring to boil. Add your toppings! Enjoy.

I love it this way. Will never eat instant again!

is an acid necessary to neutralize the phytic acid or will the soaking time be enough to do this? also, does soaking the oats leach out any of the nutrients. will there be a significant loss if i rinse the oats?

Don't cook the oats in the same water that they've been soaking in. It's like cooking them in dirt. Literally. There is a lot of dust and debris packaged in with your oats (even the fancy organic ones), and the reason for soaking is to disengage the phytic acid. If you cook your food with that water, it defeats the whole purpose of soaking.

I put my oats in a double mesh strainer over a bowl of water. That way, they soak all night and in the morning I can just lift out the strainer, give them a quick rinse and throw them on the stove.

Try it, you'll see just how filthy the water is!

Best of luck!

I like to add additional oats the next morning before serving. If I'm using 1 cup of steel cut oats soaked overnight, I add 1/4 cup of unsoaked oats when I start cooking.

It gives the oatmeal an even more delicious chewy texture.

Was the constant stirring. Steel-cut oats do best when they are only minimally cooked. It's a difficult thing if your pot is thin and you are afraid they'll scorch -- perhaps instead you can lower the heat and leave them be.

Sorry to be posting well over two years after you blogged this -- I just now found your entry. Have you tried again since this episode?

I haven't tried the soaked oatmeal again, but that does make sense, that I shouldn't have stirred so much (kinda like rice?). :) I do have nice cookware, so I should try this again with less stirring! :)

I used to soak oatmeal (rolled) in diluted apple juice in the fridge overnight. In the morning I added yogurt and nuts and ate it - no cooking. It was great. Maybe y'all are cooking it too much after the soaking. I'd think it would take much less time on the stove after soaking.

I boiled 4 cups of water and threw in 1 cup of steel cut oats that had been sitting around in a covered plastic container for about 3 years at my seasonal cabin. After the water absorbed, the inside of the pot looked dirty, and when I tasted the oats they tasted like vinegar. Is that the phytic acid or should I be concerned that the oats went bad?

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