It’s currently oat-sowing time on the farm and we’re mulling over their richness—in history, nutrition, and agriculture. Bafflingly, oats for thousands of years were referred to as diseased wheat and considered a pesky weed of more desirable cereals, fit only for topical skin treatments and animal fodder. In fact, they were the last common grain to be cultivated.
Certified Organic oats from our beloved Johnny’s Seeds
Owing to its infamously dank & dreary climate, oats eventually found their happy place in the British Isles, and especially the less-fertile highlands. The Scots are credited with popularizing the grain, its frugal and filling nature rendering it a staple and the core of “a big-boned, well-developed, and mentally energetic race.” (Vikings also loved oats.) Even in contemporary times, the Isles still take their oats seriously, noting subtle flavor variations, hosting the porridge championships, and preserving heritage seeds at gene banks.
Long after the Celts caught on, the rest of the world began widely cultivating oats for food (human and animal). The relatively disease- and pest-free grass remains an unfussy, quick-growing grain and a valuable cover crop that suppresses weeds, removes excess nutrients, softens soil, and controls erosion. Moreover, it’s a rich source of protein, healthy fats, B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that keep us satiated, lower bad cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal also features awfully prominently in those Smucker’s 100th birthday shout-outs with their secrets to longevity.
Despite its humble beginnings, we confess to maintaining a romantic notion of oats, perhaps owing to our family lineage. We picture the water-powered oat mills with great stone presses dotting the Celtic landscape; houses with roofs and beds made of the same grass boiling the grain in cauldrons over open flames; pouring the oat paste into wooden porridge drawers to be cooled and eaten in travel-size slabs throughout the week. We, too, enjoy its versatility in sweet and savory meals and with all sorts of fixings. Below we’ve included basic instructions for one of our favorite oat applications, no porridge drawer needed.
This “recipe” is sooo simple, plus way more economical and often healthier than store-bought oat ‘milk.’ Go to town with potential flavor additions. You could add one or two tablespoons of chocolate powder, coffee powder, matcha, cinnamon, dates, or berries before blending, or maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of salt after. It’s most useful here at TRF as a cereal milk, blended into smoothies or to foam up for a steamer or latte but is a fabulous subsitution for dairy in most baked goods - just be aware the recipe calls for milk and not cream!
Yield: About 3 1/2 cups
1 cup rolled oats 3 cups of water
1) Blend water and oats in blender, Vitamix, food processor, or with a hand blender on high for 30-45 seconds. Avoid overblending, as you can overturn this and go beyond the silky milk desired to a thicker glop.
2) Pour mix through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth without pressing too much; strain twice if you prefer a smoother milk. Toss out the pulp or save to use in smoothies or baked oatmeal recipes! Cover, refrigerate, and enjoy within five days, giving it a shake before using.