Oatmeal, or porridge, is a wonderful way to start the day. And soaking your oats the night before you cook them can make the breakfast you consume tastier, easier to digest and more nutritious.
Soaking oats potentially, depending on how you do it, performs several actions:
- It hydrates and softens the grain, meaning your digestive system has an easier time with assimilation and you don’t lose water as that happens.
- It imbues the oats and soak water with probiotics, meaning that when you cook your oats, they’ll be full of postbiotics and paraprobiotics which are incredibly health-giving.
- It gifts the oats a tangy ‘sourdough’ flavour.
- It can neutralise the mineral-stealing phytic acid, meaning that when you consume the oats, you’re maximising your ability to absorb minerals.
Soaking your oats in water will accomplish number 1 above – softening your grain and making it easier to digest.
Soaking your oats in water and an acidic medium with live probiotics (i.e. sourdough starter, milk kefir, apple cider vinegar) will achieve numbers 1, 2 and 3 above – you’ll have probiotic-containing, tangy, easy-to-digest oats.
But, in order to potentially neutralise the mineral-stealing phytic acid in oats and achieve all four of the above, you need to include a freshly-ground, high-phytase grain in the soaking mix. To understand why, read my article The Low Down on Oats and Phytic Acid.
So let’s talk practicalities:
The Best Way to Soak Oats
What you’ll need:
- Oats, rolled or flaked
- Freshly-ground rye flour (or for gluten-free you can use freshly-ground buckwheat)
- Non-chlorinated water
- Acidic ‘live’ medium: sourdough starter, milk kefir, sauerkraut juice – anything that comes from an unpasteurised ferment
The amounts I use for breakfast for three people are 150g oats, 20g freshly-ground rye flour, 10g starter (I use rye sourdough starter) and 400-600ml of water.
What to do:
- Put the oats into a bowl and add the freshly-ground rye flour
- Stir the acidic ‘live’ medium into a jug of room temperature water then add the mix to the oats and rye, stirring well
- Cover lightly and leave at room temperature overnight
In the morning, pour the entire contents of the bowl into a saucepan, add extra water/milk, salt, spices (whatever you love to include!) and cook.
After much research into oats, traditional methods and the science of phytic acid, this is the way I soak my oats.
- The water is softening and hydrating them
- The freshly-ground rye (or buckwheat) flour is providing phytase to help neutralise phytic acid
- The live starter is creating an acidic environment (which is optimal for phytic acid reduction), providing me the benefits of beneficial microbes and giving me that tangy ‘sourdough’ flavour that I love.
If you would like to be able to create freshly-ground flour in your own kitchen, I’d recommend the counter-top stone mills made by Mockmill. It was my research into phytic acid and oats that finally made me take the leap and invest in one, and I could not be happier! You can take a look at the range and hear more about my experience here, and if you would like to purchase a Mockmill (in the US or UK) and use the links on this page, you’ll be supporting the work I do without paying any more for your mill.
For more information on soaking and fermenting oats, listen to Ancestral Kitchen Podcast #70