Dry oatmeal needs careful handling

Oatmeal is made from a whole grain that needs a bit of careful handling. Learn about the different kinds of oatmeal and how to properly handle them.

Photo credit: Jeannie Nichols
Photo credit: Jeannie Nichols

Comfort foods are those that bring us peace and good feelings when we eat them. They can bring good memories, calmness, and make us feel better psychologically and physically. Oatmeal is one comfort food that can offer nostalgic and sentimental feelings for some people.

Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast and those of us who enjoy oatmeal well understand this. It can be a nutritious ingredient in cookies, muffins, breads, meatloaf and many other recipes. However, it is important to handle your dry oatmeal with care.

Michigan State University Extension offers these food safety tips when it comes to dry oatmeal:

  1. Unopened dry oatmeal should be stored in a cool, clean and dry place.
  2. Opened oatmeal ought to be stored tightly covered in a resealable plastic bag or in a plastic or glass container. It is best practice to use opened oatmeal within one year.
  3. Dry oatmeal can also be stored in a freezer bag in the freezer for one year. Your freezer should be at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. The “best by” or “best if used by” dates are really quality suggestions. The oatmeal after this date would still be safe if it was stored properly. Oatmeal can develop an off smell or flavor depending on where and how it was stored. So always look at, and smell, the dry oatmeal that you will be using.

There are different kinds of oatmeal made from oats

Oat groats are the grain kernels that have been newly harvested, cleaned and had their hulls removed. These take the longest to cook.

Steel cut oats are oat groats after they have been cut into smaller pieces with a sharp, steel blade.

Old fashioned rolled oats are created after steaming oat groats and rolling them into fine flakes.

Quick or instant rolled oats are the fastest type to cook because they have been steamed for a longer period of time and rolled thinner.

Scottish oatmeal is one that probably many of us are not familiar with at all. The oats are stone ground and make a creamier dish when cooked.

Regardless of the kind of oatmeal you use it is nutritious and economical. A bowl of oatmeal with warm milk and fruit and a bit of sugar, oatmeal bread, oatmeal muffins and other foods made with oatmeal are not only healthy but they have a bonus of being easy to eat and easy to digest.

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