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Somebody got this trend all wrong.
Well, not ALL wrong…but they messed up the only step in the recipe! We shouldn’t be soaking our overnight oats in the refrigerator, we should be soaking them with warm water, at room temperature—or even warmer. And would you believe that cooking the oats afterwards actually makes them even MORE nutritious. This is not a food you want to eat raw. Let me break down the basics for you…
Our ancestors ate whole grains after soaking them or fermenting them. Over time they figured out that this was how grains needed to be prepared—in order to avoid illness. It was probably thanks to serendipity that they figured this out back then because there weren’t any refrigerators…food was just left out. But as generations passed, and food culture diminished, we have been hastily preparing our grains…and we’ve even gone as far as thinking they are best uncooked! This is flat out wrong.
Did you know that the oatmeal box, back in the day, used to say “soak overnight” in the directions? What happened to that?
You see, all grains contain something called “phytic acid”—or phytates—in the outer layer or bran, and oats contain more phytates than almost any other grain. So, if this phytic acid is untreated, it will combine with important minerals in our body and block their absorption. I’m talking about calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper. We need these minerals, and our food supply is providing less and less of them because of modern farming methods. We should take every precaution to protect the minerals that are still available to us. Regular consumption of improperly prepared grains (also legumes, and nuts) can lead to mineral deficiencies, leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome, bone loss, food allergies, and even mental illness…this is not only due to the phytic acid content, but more so a combination of these plant chemicals along with others like lectins, goitrogens, and oxalates to name a few. It’s the dose that makes the poison, and it varies widely from person-to-person (or gut-to-gut).
So what’s the proper way to prepare these grains?
The process is simple really. All we need to do is soak the whole grains overnight at room temperature, or even warmer, and cook after soaking. It helps tremendously if, during the soak, you add an acid starter like liquid whey, kefir, yogurt, or even lemon juice. Allow the natural enzymes and other helpful organisms to begin fermenting the grains, for 7-24 hours, and this will neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid.
Soaking in warm, acidic or cultured water not only gets rid of this mineral-blocking substance, but it also releases all of the vitamins in grains, and encourages more healthy digestion by partially breaking down some of the proteins (like gluten). Win Win, all around! Finish your oatmeal by cooking for a quick 5-10 minutes (more on that in the recipe at the end of this post).
Spread the word to those we care about.
Oatmeal is one of those things that people eat habitually…every single morning. That’s why it’s important to spread the word. Although I do not usually consume oatmeal or most grains, I felt the need to focus on this recipe because many of my closest friends and family are enjoying oatmeal on a regular basis. My goal with My Longevity Kitchen is to help explain how we can maximize the nutrients in our food, and minimize toxins. And my passion lies in the ways of our ancestors, and their time-honored traditional cooking methods. Oatmeal can be nutritious, or quite the opposite. I hope you’ve learned a thing or two on how to make it truly nourishing. Here are some more tips for you, and the recipe!
More Tips on Oats:
- Always buy ORGANIC Oats and any gluten-containing grains. This is imperative because science now shows that when the weed killer named Glyphosate is in the presence of Gluten (in our digestive tract) it passes through the intestinal wall. This will likely lead to immune responses, irritating symptoms, leaky gut, or a gluten intolerance. Take caution and only buy organic gluten grains.
- Always eat your oats and grains with a healthy fat like grass-fed butter, grass-fed cream, coconut milk, or coconut oil. The fats are necessary for us to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in grains.
- Never buy your cracked or rolled oats in the bulk bin. You want them in a sealed package so the oils don’t go rancid and cause free radicals in the body.
- It’s highly recommended that you use a probiotic-rich liquid like whey (the liquid on top of your plain yogurt), buttermilk, whole-milk plain yogurt, whole-milk kefir, coconut kefir, when soaking your oats. This helps break down the phytic acid the most (and it also inhibits any harmful bacteria from growing). If you are completely against dairy, or don’t have any on hand, then you can try another acidic medium like lemon or apple cider vinegar, but you probably should be adding another gluten-free grain like buckwheat groats (not actually a grain, but it is Gluten Free) because it helps to break down phytic acid in those stubborn oats (more on this here). These soaking methods will encourage the beneficial bacteria, enzymatic release, and proper breakdown of those stingy phytates in grains. That is why you’ll see this recipe recommends adding up to 2 Tablespoons of such liquid while soaking.
More about Liquid Whey:
- “Acid” Whey, a byproduct from making unripened fresh cheeses, has been prescribed for an assortment of human ailments—even by Hippocrates himself in 460 BC—cool, huh? Throughout the middle ages, doctors continued to prescribe whey so much that “whey houses” were popping up all over western Europe. They treated everything from arthritis to anemia, with whey. Wow.
- Whey supplies lactobacilli, which are important probiotics. Liquid whey has many uses including making facto-fermented vegetables like when pickling and making sauerkraut. It’s also used in condiments or beverages like kefir and cultured mayonnaise, or when soaking and sprouting nuts or grains (like the oatmeal in this recipe). The lactic acid in whey helps break down the stubborn grains and seed defenses.
- Traditional uses even include adding whey to sauces and soups; if you don’t cook/reheat the soup after adding, you’ll get the enzymatic benefits that help with digestion and nutrient availability. There do appear to be some continued benefits (even after cooking/heating the microbes) due to causes that are not entirely understood, but it may be simply because the microbes work to produce beneficial byproducts that help our gut and our nutrient-absorption.
- Note: powdered whey does not provide these same benefits or help with the soaking of grains. Learn more about whey in the links below.
Make Your Own Whey (Easily):
- Get thee to the grocery store for some quality, plain, full-fat yogurt (Not Greek yogurt). Seek out brands that have active cultures (the label should say somewhere that it has lactobacillus or “live active cultures”), are organic, made from the milk of pasture-raised cow, goat, or sheep; and non-homogenized (this means there’s less processing and the cream rises to the top— like it’s supposed to).
- Line a mesh strainer with a thin dish towel, or muslin if you’re lucky enough to have it (or 4+ layers cheesecloth should work), and place it over a bowl to rest. Add the plain yogurt and let it sit at room temperature for 5 hours. You’ll notice the (acid) whey is dripping into the bowl, like the photo above.
- Next, gently gather the ends of your cloth, without squeezing, and tie it around a wooden spoon so it can hang over the top of the bowl and drip even more whey (you might use a pitcher instead of the bowl at this point because the sack will hang too low). Usually, you’d just leave it like this overnight to get the most whey out of it, but you can stop any time. I’ve tied the cloth on a high oven rack before and left it in the oven to drip into a bowl on the lower rack. Some people tie the sack on the faucet head and let it drip into a bowl in the sink. Now you have plenty of whey which will keep in a glass jar, in the fridge, for 6 months. Bonus: the cheese left behind is basically like cream cheese, perfect for dips or spreads, and will keep for a month when refrigerated.
Want to learn more about phytic acid, traditional methods, and soaking grains?
My biggest inspiration thus far is the cookbook called Nourishing Traditions. You should check it out if this topic of traditional food preparations interests you.
Tons of info here on phytic acid and soaking grains.
“The Whey Prescription”, A Summary
The importance of lactic acid bacteria for phytate degradation during cereal dough fermentation.
Effects of soaking, germination and fermentation on phytic acid, total and in vitro soluble zinc in brown rice
Degradation of phytic acid in cereal porridges improves iron absorption by human subjects
- 1 Cup gluten-free ORGANIC ROLLED OATS
- 1 Cup WARM FILTERED WATER
- 2 Tablespoons ACID WHEY or 1.5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (see notes for info and substitutions)
- 1/2 teaspoon FINE SEA SALT
- 2 Tablespoons of Unsalted GRASS-FED BUTTER (or coconut cream, coconut oil)
- 1/2 Cup crushed PECANS
- 1 BANANA
- Pour 1 cup of OATS in a glass bowl, and stir in 1 cup of warm FILTERED WATER, and 2 Tablespoons of acid WHEY (or 1.5 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar). Cover loosely, and leave overnight in the oven or a cabinet. Allow to soak for at least 7 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Optional Step (for changes in flavor): Pour soaked oats into a mesh strainer and rinse with water.
- Pour your soaked oats into a non-stick pot, with 1 cup of FILTERED WATER, and 1/2 teaspoon of FINE SEA SALT. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, COVER and turn heat to LOW to finish cooking for 5 more minutes.
- Portion into two bowls (or save some for later, in the refrigerator, for up to a week). Top each portion with 1 Tablespoon of unsalted GRASS-FED BUTTER (or coconut cream/oil), 1/2 sliced banana, 1/4 cup crushed pecans, and plenty of cinnamon. See notes for recommended sweeteners.
- WHEY: This is the liquid on top of plain, full fat yogurt. Large tubs of yogurt have about 2 Tablespoons of whey floating on top which you can just pour out and use for this recipe. See the info in this post on how to make your own whey and store it for 6 months! You may also use Kefir or Buttermilk, but the nutritional benefits are superior with whey. You can even just use the plain yogurt. A good non-dairy alternative that is also convenient is Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar, and for these you would use 1.5 teaspoons per cup of water.
- SWEETENERS: I think the banana slices are enough for a sweetener. If you need more sweetness, try sprinkling some erythritol, munk fruit sweetener, or xylitol on your oatmeal. We do love the addition of raw honey or maple syrup, but prefer not to use these sugary toppings since the oatmeal is already high in carbohydrates.
Well, soaking and cooking would work with raw oats, but the author missed a BIG detail herself. Rolled oats are technically not raw. They are steamed, and they have a large part of the starch already broken down…
Can I use soy yogurt that says fermented soy product or ‘active’ on the container? I don’t eat dairy, and have read that apple cider leaves behind a taste that isn’t preferable. So if it’s possible to use soy yogurt that would be great.. Hope you have an answer to this
Thank you for providing this knowledge! I was wondering about cooking the oats after the fermenting period. I prefer eating stove-top cooked steel-cut oats…if I cook the oats with the probiotic rich water they’ve been fermenting in, will I be destroying the active live cultures?
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I really enjoy eating raw oat cereal . Is it possible to rinse & repeat soak with your warm soak instructions to further reduce lectins and avoid cooking them? Thank you.
Thank you! I had read something about this years ago, but now, trying to find information about how to prepare the oats, and could not find anything alluding to the whole fermenting aspect, which felt did not involve tossing it in the fridge,…I was starting to wonder if I had just made the whole thing up in my head. Though I do realize while saying ‘now’, when this post is also see this post is five years old lol.
I totally goofed on soaking my oats overnight, I completely left out the acidic part and I soaked 5 cups of organic oats overnight… are they unsafe to eat because of this reason? Just wondering if I need to toss them out or can I add it in now?
How can you link to Weston Price and then ignore the info in their article about oats and phytic acid??
It’s not as simple as soaking them overnight. Oats don’t have enough phytase to be activated, acid soak or not. You’ve been advising people incorrectly for years. It would’ve worked for our ancestors as they wouldn’t been consuming oats exposed to heat during processing.
Maybe read that Weston Price article. Especially since your inspiration is Nourishing Traditions. You really ought to keep current. And you’re a life coach? I hope that doesn’t include nutrition.
PREPARATION OF OATS AND CORN
When preparing these grains according to traditional methods, such as those provided in Nourishing Traditions, the best idea is to add one or more tablespoons of freshly ground rye flour. Rye flour contains high levels of phytase that will be activated during the soaking process. This method reflects new information obtained since the publication of Nourishing Traditions. Even without the rye flour, overnight soaking of oats and other low-phytase grains greatly improves digestibility but won’t eliminate too much phytic acid. Another grain that benefits from added rye flour during soaking is sorghum, which is lower in phytic acid than wheat but lacking in phytase. (Buckwheat contains high levels of phytase and would not need added rye flour.) You can keep whole rye grains and grind a small amount in a mini grinder for adding to these grains during the soaking process.
Your hostility is not appreciated. Perhaps I should put more emphasis on adding phytase-rich grains, but it complicates things further for the reader.
Here is a sentence I DID include and you must’ve missed it,”…but you probably should be adding another gluten-free grain like buckwheat groats (not an actually a grain, but it is Gluten Free) because it helps to break down phytic acid in those stubborn oats (more on this here [linked resource that dives further into the topic]). ”
Best wishes to you. If you’d like to contribute productive and amicable comments, I encourage you to reply.
– Marisa Moon, NBC-HWC
Well said. I for one find your article very helpful.
I am boiling my oats at night, then next morning I cook with vegetables. Is this right way for cooking ? Another questions is what should we do oats soaked water ? I mean should we eat oats soaked water with oats or water should remove ? Thank you.
What are your thoughts on sprouted oats? Do you think the nutrients in sprouted oats are as bioavailable as overnight fermented oats?
I would have loved to have seen the answer to this also, but since you posted this 5 months ago, I don’t think we’ll get the answer. 🙁
Sprouted grains should be just fine! 🙂 the sprouting process is reducing phytic acid to release the minerals for the plant to grow. Phytic acid’s role in the grain is to preotect the minerals until they are needed. Sprouting or Fermenting is normally the best option to get most of the vitamins and minerals 🙂
Would it be appropriate to use coconut milk (to actually cook the oats) in step 3 of the recipe instead of using filtered water? I’m new to the concept of activation- is the activating process done after the soaking or is the water + salt combination, in step 3, still part of the activation process?
I’ve had some mild GERD for years (nothing that required treatment other than occasional TUMS).
Nonetheless, I seemingly got to a tipping point a few months ago and am now on a PPI and an H2 blockers.
The main thing that changed in my mostly vegetarian (occasionally pescatarian) diet as far as I can tell was that I started eating ACV pre-soaked, cooked oats every morning (now I also add the juice from half of a green lime, and let them soak at room temperature instead of inside the fridge, after reading some of your great tips here!).
However, my GERD symptoms don’t seem to be improving much. I’m now wondering whether the culprit might be the oats themselves, in spite of the precautions I take in preparing them. I’ve eaten oats on-and-off all my life without issues, though, but I guess it’s never been a daily habit like now.
Is it “bad” to eat oats every morning, even if I’m preparing them in the “best” possible way?
(I strain them to get rid of the ACV + lime liquid they’ve been fermenting in, and usually cook them in filtered water with raisins and blueberries, and then serve them with a bit of sliced almonds, crushed pecans and walnuts; I occasionally add a ripe banana; I used to add maple syrup or honey but got rid of that; tried Stevia for ~1 month but got rid of it too).
Skipping the oats a day or two (and eating cereal out of a box instead) doesn’t really relieve my symptoms.
Is there anything I can improve in my processes?
Should I just quit oats for a long period of time and eat them on-and-off, sporadically, as I used to or is it crazy to think the may be the culprit? (Most online guides list oats as a GERD-friendly meal; it’s the reason I *increased* my consumption of them to the point of eating them almost daily).
Thanks for the great article and your insights!
Try having your oats without the fruit. Proper food combining is extremely helpful when you have any type of Gerd symptoms. Properly combining all your meals can be a game changer. The book Fit For Life talks about all of this (I read the second edition (Fit For Life II) years ago and still follow most of the principles in that book because they seriously transformed my life and the knowledge and wisdom in that book is still very relevant today. Hope this helps!
Alicia, thank you for the advice and for the book recommendation, I will order it!
I had GERD and my sister had GERD. The key word here is “had.”
It turns out GERD is caused by the intake of a rich source of carbohydrates and NOT ENOUGH acid in one’s stomach. The idea that your stomach is too acidic is false. Once I found that nugget of information I got from Amazon a bottle of THORNE® Betaine HCL & Pepsin. Two capsules three times per day for two days cured the GERD. Plus we have greatly reduced the amount of carbs per meal. (Oats are a big load of carbs.)
Or you can take a shot of apple cider vinegar to decrease the pH of your stomach, which is what I do if I think the GERD is going to raise its ugly head.
I found this information at Chris Kresser’s website: Chriskresser.com.
I have GERD as well and I stopped eating nuts and I use oat milk as my milk alternative. My stomach is much happier now.
Marisa, thanks for this information. I have enjoyed the overnight oats for awhile and haven’t had any gut problems but it seems like such a waste to bypass all the benefits of doing it “your way” just to save a few minutes with preparation. I do have a question concerning how much harm that I would be doing if I followed your recipe (soaking & cooking) but then put it in fridge and warmed it up the next morning in the microwave at work. My workplace doesn’t have a stove. I want to hear your ideal way to warm it up while keeping the benefits of having soaked and cooked it according to your instructions. Eating before I leave the house in the morning is not an option so I will have to eat it at work.
I have the same question. Cooking it before leaving the house isn’t an option for me. Have you tried this Steve?
Would also love to know the answer to this!
Never got an answer so I ended up purchasing a hot plate and I use that.
Here is a question I haven’t been able to find an answer to. Most commercially sold oats have been steamed to remove the husk, but it is possible to buy truly raw rolled oats. (They just need to be refrigerated or frozen to preserve after you get them home) Here’s the question: would the soaking process be more effective with truly raw oats? Would the oats become that much more digestible? Obviously raw oats would have been used by traditional farming cultures. I’d really love the answer to this if you or anyone may know!
I totally understand why you’d think that oats without the hull removed would be more natural or better, but it is to my understanding that ancient humans had a certain wisdom about grains; they had an inner knowing that grains were not digestible with the hull intact. They used stones and tools to smash and grind them in order to break down the tough cellular walls and then activate them with soaking and fermentation. So take that with a grain of salt, and come to your own conclusion or further research. I think soaking organic steel cut oats for longer than this recipe recommends (because steel cut oats are less processed, they take longer to soak) would be closer to our natural exposure to this food.
My question is really about raw (unheated and untreated) oats vs the standard commercially available oats which are steamed as a part of the process. Truly raw oats are available without the hull also; the farmers just use a different non-heat-based method for removing the hull.
So, my question is this: wouldn’t truly raw oats (without the hull) be a healthier more digestible option? Traditional cultures would have been using raw.
I couldn’t find where to start my own question thread nor an existing post for my question.
What are your thoughts on oat flour and/or what so you recommend as a healthy flour?
Late answer here…but my recommendation is that you buy whole, dehulled oat groats then roll them at home in a “flocking mill,” which is the German term for a flaking mill.
These are available widely via the Internet. These little mills squish oat groats into the flat format we call “oatmeal” (rolled oats). I find they do a great job on rye also…and soft wheats…though hard wheats need a light soaking with a VERY LITTLE water overnight to soften them a bit. (Not too wet–that gobs up the flaker.)
Family Grain Mills is a German-made brand that produces a flaking mill you can crank by hand with FGM’s hand-crank base that you clamp to a tabletop or countertop. Or you can attach the flaker head to any one of about a dozen different commonly and less commonly used mixers/power bases.
You can spent a way lot for a flocker–there are some truly upscale and lovely ones if you have the money to spend–but for my household the FGM was a good balance of a solid tool, but far smaller price tag than say the Komo. I can get even organic oat groats for much cheaper than “Bob’s Red Mill” or whatever conventional rolled oats via retail, and squish them fresh and nice myself every day or two. The difference in flavor and quality is truly notable.
I came here looking for advice on how to get the best out of overnight oats and was quite interested until you stated have it with “COWS” milk, yogurt etc, at that point I realised that your information was flawed. The only milk a human should drink is it’s mothers and when weaned, it is no longer required. To consider drinking the nurturing fluid meant for a bovine animal which resembles the human species in absolutely no way is just madness. Look in the mirror we are apes not cows
Wow. You’re right. You should come to someone’s blog and give them sh*t for something that the VAST majority of Americans, or Humans for that matter, partake in. Get out of here with that negativity. And thanks to the author for clearly explaining the information I came here seeking.
Ew, this reply is gross. Sorry the truth offended your pAtrIoTiSm. Hope your day is as pleasant as you are
It’s relevant to mention that, some cultures consume less milk (e.g., the Chinese), but Americans do consume it much more often, since Europeans are in general lactose-tolerant. Though it says something about you when your first reply is about the “evils” of “pAtrIoTiSm!!1!” 🙂
lmao at “the truth”. Humans have been drinking animal milk for millenia, get out of here with your idiotic vegan-esque bs.
Thank you so much for your insight. Adding cow puss to the mix doesn’t make it such a healthy meal in the morning. When you think of all the trauma the cows go through and the antibiotics, anti-inflammatory etc all that being fermented in your organic healthy breakfast, it becomes completely contradictory thinking about how to increase the absorption of minerals by soaking the oats overnight…
Leave it to all the vegans to come out of the wood-work to talk about oats hahaha. Humans have been drinking animals milk for millenia and eating animals for far longer than even that, it’s how our brains evolved if you believe in the evolution theory.
Go back to brainwashing yourself with your “What The Health” and “Forks Over Knives” propaganda and we’ll look forward to seeing you on the animal eating side again when you finally come to your senses to reclaim your health and eat a species appropriate diet.
I agree with you about the animals…. that is sad for me too! Hope people realize that the Mother Nature gives us everything…. I like to share That (dr.Neal Barnard dairy) it is sad!
To be fair, I too had questions about bovine milk, or goat & sheep for that matter too, but my concerns are more about the horomones and feeding of each of those animals, less about how my Mommy doesn’t let me suckle anymore. >: (
I learned about the levels of estrogen, lactose, corn crap, sucky soil nutrients, and other issues where I’m trying to find the best “milk substitute” myself.
Apparently, the soy, almond, coconut, etc milks also undergo industrialized processing as well.
Any thoughts on the “ideal” sources of milk, whey, yogurt, kefir, etc. Moo!
Thank you for lots of info. I am a very sensitive Celiac and haven’t eaten any Grains or Dairy for some time. I do make my own Kefir (can’t do shopbought) from Goats Milk though and I SO MISS OATS. Because Oats can mimic Gluten in some People (Me) I am worried about having a Go. I need some Carbs other than Fruit and Veg, due to Chronic Fatigue and being Malnourished. 20 yrs ago I lost 70% of my Gut Lining, hence Problems. I am Kyto Diet by default not choice and am bored to death with how I eat. I also have: Meniere’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Gout, IBS and some I haven’t found out about yet. Just wondered if anyone else like me has done this and what reaction they had. Great info again Guys x x x
I get bloated after ‘normal’ (gluten free, organic oats) but found sprouted oat flakes makes a huge difference… now add the fermenting soaking process and it may be a completely different story here. Thanx for a great article ❤️
Wow I’m sorry. I don’t have any of those, but while doing research I’m pretty convinced that a combination of juicing organic veggies and consuming homemade kefir, fermented veggies/fruits, kombucha & homemade bone broth can bring healing from many different illnesses/diseases. I don’t do all of these but I do juicing and homemade kefir. I had an ulcer and juicing cabbage daily got rid of it in about 7 days. I pray you get better!
Hi interesting article but should you not be soaking your pecans too?
Exactly, I wonder this too. I’ve heard on Youtube that pecans are especially agressive on your intestine wall too, so…
People please do your research, I understand that this lady is trying her best but its really unnecessary to go into all that struggle when overnight oats are actually fine. For those who want to get educated I am leaving this article here (THE EXPERIMENT WAS DONE BY ACTUAL SCIENTISTS AND CITED.) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41430-018-0329-1
And you Marissa, please leave some citation of where you get your info from its very important when you are trying to educate others.
Thx very much Alice for this link. Makes more sense. I stopped reading Marissas article when she starts talking about the gluten in oats. There’s no gluten. ?
there is gluten in Oats…
It was a typo. If you read her actual recipe it calls for gluten free oats.
She said “like gluten”. Depending on the oats used, there can be contamination with gluten, unless, presumably, they claim to be prepared in a gluten free facility.
Would you mind letting me know what part of the post is incorrect? I’m sorry but I can’t figure out which part you mean. I’m old and not particularly smart or well educated, so I run into a lot of things that I can’t figure out. 🙁
Thank You, Rho
BTW-Maybe they just recently added it, but
Can you please tell me what part of the post you disagree with. I can’t figure it out . I’m afraid that I’m old and not very smart or well educated . So there are always a lots of things to that I can’t figure out ;(
Thank You, Rho
BTW – Maybe they just added it, but I think that reference links are listed between the “how to make whey”
section and the recipe. 🙂
Alice, the research you cited was done on oats glycemic index.
That is not the reason for soaking and fermenting oats.
Oats contain phytic acid which is hard on our digestive system.
Soaking neutralizes the phytic acid.
The article that you link has nothing to do with the traditional reason for soaking oats.
And, to reply to the other poster in this thread, gluten doesn’t occur naturally in oats. It’s the cross contamination in food processing plants that can introduce gluten to oats.
Hi! Thank you for this article! I made some whey about a month ago and have been using it in oats regularly since. Last night I discovered that there was some ‘slime’ in the whey, very much like egg whites… Is it going bad?
I doubt it’s bad “slime”…if it doesn’t smell bad, it’s not “bad”. That’s the cool thing about live cultures, they give off a foul smell when they’ve gone rotten or dangerous.
Hi, I’m wondering why you put in the oatmeal recipe that it’s optional to rinse the oatmeal after it has soaked?
Because otherwise you would be consuming the water that contains this phytic acid which is not good for you, which was the original purpose of soaking the grains to begin with?
I was thinking the same thing originally, and it’s indeed confusing. But I believe the phytic acid is changed into another substance thanks to the beneficial microbes metabolizing and breaking down the phyto-chemicals in the oats.
Hi Maria…I have MS, which causes so many issues. I can’t take probiotics, they make me sick to my stomach, enzymes make me dizzy, go figure. I’ve been eating oatmeal forever, the wrong way. Recently, I started eating steel cut oatmeal, organic, I love them. I have been soaking them overnight w/just water and in the fridge, which I will stop. I can’t eat any dairy b/c of MS. I have acv on hand, will that change the flavor or the oats, b/c I really love the flavor, but, if it’s necessary for nutrition, I, of course, add the acv. My question is how much acv if needed. I use 1/4 cup oats and just add water, any amount I feel like and add more if necessary after cooked. I also, cook in the microwave for only 2 minutes and let it sit for 2 minutes. Another question is, lately the oatmeal keeps exploding in the microwave, I cover w/a cover w/holes in it. Today, I cooked on the stove, the taste was gone, but, I didn’t soak overnight, had to cook longer and add allot of water. I do prefer the microwave, but, probably, better for me on top of the stove. Any advise would be very helpful and I would really appreciate it. Thank you. Oh, I just happen to click on your site here and see there’s a lot of great information. I really want to make this as simple for me as possible, but, I am definitely looking for nutrition.
Sorry, I spelled you name wrong. I know it is Marisa.
You’ll want to use 1.5 teaspoons of ACV per cup of oats while you’re soaking them in 1 cup of filtered water. Measure the water because we’re aiming to strike the right pH of water with that ACV measurement. You want 1:1 oats:water ratio. Then you can add more water when you actually cook them. If you don’t like the taste with the ACV then just add a pinch or two of salt while they’re cooking and it will help balance that acidity, but most people can’t taste the difference with or without!
Soaking will greatly affect the cooking time and how much water you need to add while cooking, so try it again with the soaking AND cooking on the stovetop according to the recipe measurements above. When you are in a hurry the microwave is fine, but reduce the power and hopefully it won’t explode.
best of luck to you
Hi I am just wondering after you add the yoghurt to soak the oats do you put it in the fridge ? or leave it out overnight? wont it grow bacteria if left out? also do you put an air tight lid? thanks so much
Hi Aimee, I know it’s confusing at first, but the beneficial bacteria in the yogurt help prevent the spoiling for one day of soaking (because the oats are their food and when they’re eating, they’re thriving). No airtight lid or the bacteria will not be able to breath. Just loosely covered is all you need.
Hello Marisa, Thank you for your recipe ! I know you’ve already touched on this question, but I’d like to ask you what are the biochemical advatages of cooking oats after soaking ? I would imagine if the oats have already been kilned, another heat treatment does not matter. But if the oats are raw and unkilned, cooking them after soaking seems like a waste of lypase and other enzymes, vitamines and resistant carbs. Cheers !
Hello Marisa, Thank you for your recipe ! I know you’ve already touched on this question, but I’d like to ask you what are the biochemical advatages of cooking oats after soaking ? I would imagine if the oats have already been kilned, another heat treatment does not matter. But if the oats are raw and unkilned, cooking them after soaking seems like a waste of lypase and other enzymes, vitamines and resistant carbs. Cheers !
Thank you for your recipe ! I know you’ve already touched on this question, but I’d like to ask you what are the biochemical advatages of cooking oats after soaking ? I would imagine if the oats have already been kilned, another heat treatment does not matter. But if the oats are raw and unkilned, cooking them after soaking seems like a waste of lypase and other enzymes and resistant carbs.
I always soak my oats on my countertop, in water with a little kefir. But I still don’t feel like you answered the question WHY cooking the soaked oats increases the nutrition. Sorry if I missed something.
Actually, cooking anything but a water soak will take the good bacteria straight out of the whole process!!
Waste of good bacteria and waste of money. If you cook it plan on not using kefir, buttermilk or yogurt.
I agree, heating up the oats once youve soaked them in kefir or whey will just kill all that bacteria, so it seems its a bit silly to do that.
Some nutrients are more available cooked. Though enzymes are destroyed by heat much over body temp, the phytic acid was mostly destroyed by the overnight lactic fermentation. Also works in different acidic mediums, like lemon juice or ACV.
Raw eating has its Great points, and some downfalls; As do all types of eating.
Rhea C., B.S., plus 48 years of reading different doctors diet books.
thanks for the informative post.
I just would like to know if this overnight soaking/fermentation can also be used with over grains/flakes like: Millet flakes, Spelt flakes, rice flakes?
Kind regards from Germany
Interesting and useful article. One nutrition expert from Airlangga University, Indonesia explained about a new way to enjoy healthy and delicious oats. For a more complete article I will share the article link below. Happy reading and hopefully useful
How long do soaked & cooked oats last when kept in the fridge? Thank you.
Great recipe and information – thank you. Could I suggest that you also specify about which cinnamon to buy? Ceylon cinnamon is much healthier is if eaten everyday as normal supermarket cinnamon can have dangerous health effects. Many thanks
Sorry to tag on your comment cause i can’t find the comment button!
Is it ok to use kombucha liquid in place of whey?
Sounds like it’s worth a try! But use a very citrus one so that it leans towards the appropriate acid ph level. Let us know how it tastes after you try.
Thanks for a great article.
Can you soak oats overnight in just milk only?
I find when soaking in water, it goes slimy. So I’ve been soaking in just milk overnight on the bench.
Thank you for replying to everyone’s comments. Xxx
I suggest organic buttermilk if you’re going to do it that way. Buttermilk is a traditional fermented milk that’s much easier on the gut and more appropriate for this application.
I’m worried about salmonella or food poisoning if I leave yogurt at room temperature overnight. But you say it’s the only way to make the oats edible. Should I be worried or it’s not a problem?
Holy @#$@. There’s so much misinformation and just straight up bullshit in this article that you should be put in prison. Or be elected president. Trepanning is an ancient practice too. If I look at your other pages, will I find one recommending that as a treatment for the common cold, “It really helps drain the sinuses and releases evil spirits!” You should be reviled.
Can you please point out the misinfořations?
I would like to see that too!!
After the overnight soaking process, do you cook the oats in the liquid that you soaked the oats in or should you drain out the soaking liquid and then add 1 cup of fresh filtered water per step #3?
Can I cook my gluten free steel oats in a crock pot over night? Would this help with the enzymes and nutrients ? thanks
That’s a great way to cook them, but you still want to soak them, as instructed here, first. Soaking (at warm temp and for 8-12 hours) is the important part to reduce the phytic acid.
What do you do if you did ate the oatmeal prepared in the refrigerator after 12 hours. Then started having consistent loose stools. I have totally messed up my stomache
I’m sorry to hear about your digestive issues. I cannot give medical advice, so I suggest you see a Gastroenterologist. You might also consider researching how to heal a “leaky gut”. Grains are not recommended while you repair your GI Tract. Best wishes.
What about Bircher muesli?
I like to soak my oats overnight in only yoghurt and the next morning just add blueberries and strawbs in it & eat it cold especially because it’s approaching summer. Is this still good to do?
Just cook it, as instructed in this post, and then you can add your berries and chill the oatmeal to enjoy it cold afterwards. Cooking is a very important step.
If I want to make a high protein version using whey protein powder, when would be the best time to add in the whey protein powder?
Add the whey protein into your oatmeal after you cook it. You want to be sure it’s not boiling hot. If you can tolerate the temperature by touching or eating it, then it’s a good temp for the whey protein.
FirstF i want to thank you for the article!
I have some question:
1. Can i use it with “the” instant oat? I have the left over almost full of 2 kg and i dont want to trow it..
2. Can i fermented it along with cia seed? I like my overnight oats with cia seed, it help me with the texture (oat are too slimy).
Sorry I missed your comment Sorayyah. Thanks for the praise.
You can try it with the instant oats, might as well just finish it off. I don’t think instant oats are ideal in the future because the fats might be rancid (oxidized, free radicals), and the bacteria in your fermenting stage will not have as much to “eat” since they’re pre-cooked.
I suggest you soak the chia seeds separately and add them after you cook the oats. They can’t handle any heat over boiling temp.
If you don’t like the chia seeds this way, I suggest you add some chopped almonds/cashews/coconut flakes/walnuts to your oats while they soak and ferment, and try that instead.
I’ve been soaking 1/2 cup organic oats in 1 cup of plain low fat kefir overnight in frig for 12hours, is this method healthy?
The same points I describe in this article still apply. You’d need to leave it out at room temp for at least 6 hours for that bacteria to get to work on breaking down the oats. And you have to cook those oats to minimize the toxins and make them more digestible.
I suggest you use follow the recipe using kefir in place of liquid whey. Then cook with 1/2 cup of water and stir in the kefir after cooking. You can go ahead and cook with the kefir, there will still be some benefits, but the live probiotics will be gone.
If you eat oats pretty often, it’s worth doing it this way to get a nutritious food instead of so many toxins with so little nutrients.
Hi just found this article. Can I toast the oats in the oven/pan after soaking instead of cooking the traditional way?
Absolutely! But I think it’s important to add more water to help soften the grain. If you’re looking for that toasted flavor, you can toast first, and cook with water second. Or vice versa and see what works.
Re: Your comment about not heating chia seeds.
First I heard of this and I assume you’d say the same for ground flaxseed? Most searches say it’s fine, as long as not overheated.
When soaking chia seeds to go with the overnight soaked grains.
Is this in cold or warm water? I usually do in cold and place in the fridge, with a lid on.
Should chia seeds be left to soak on the counter without a lid?
Ground flax, it is a seed, thus should I soak ground flax too?
Obviously soak flax when whole, but now wondering if I should do the same with ground.
Again, like the chia seeds. Should these be soaked in cold or warm water, with or without a lid?
Overheating is very easy when you’re cooking on the stove or baking with anything chia or flax. Especially once the flax seeds are ground, the fats are very fragile. They can’t handle over 225 F which is just above boiling.
I suggest you soak the chia seeds seperately, at room temp or in the fridge, loosely covered. They will gel just fine at either temp. You can do the same with whole flax seeds and stir these into your oatmeal after you turn off the heat/cooking.
Add ground flax after cooking. Ground it fresh or the exposure to oxygen makes the fats rancid as well.
Hi – Quick question about making large batches for meal prep. Is it possible to ferment a large batch (3-4 cups) of steel cut oats for 24-48 hrs and then heat the entire batch slowly but reserve 2-3 cups of the fermented then cooked oats for leftover use and re-fermentation? I’d like to save time on subsequent mornings by not having to cook anything. I’m thinking of taking my leftovers, adding a bit of kefir water, and letting the re-fermentation process continue. According to Cultures for Health: “Fermented Oatmeal: If you read the food history of Ireland you will find oats at the forefront of their diet. A porridge was often made from oats as a staple for the family. Once cooked it could be cooled and poured into a dresser drawer that had been larded down around the edges. This porridge would be fermented for days or even weeks with the cook of the family cutting slices from it and frying them as necessary.” https://www.culturesforhealth.com/learn/general/fermented-grain-porridges/
This seems like it might work? Any advice or has anyone tried it?
Interesting question. I have seen that historical reference before, but take note that they are using lard (“…a dresser drawer that had been larded down”) to prevent any air from circulating in the drawer. The lard creates an airtight seal. Also, the fermentation is happening after they cook it; whereas the recipe I suggest is fermented and then cooked.
My question for you is, what is taking you the most time that you’d like to avoid? Cooking takes maybe 5 minutes for a 1 cup batch. I think you’d be better off just taking the fermented oatmeal and placing it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it. Cook a single serving for 5 minutes and you’ve got a speedy meal. Do that every time you eat and you can avoid the longer cooking required for the full batch. Or you can just put the whole batch in a pressure cooker on high for 5 minutes.
I don’t personally know of anyone who’s tried to ferment the oatmeal after cooking. That second fermentation would happen much more quickly because the grain is already broken down so much, just a heads up. It’s up to you if you’d like to experiment with a second fermentation.
Great stuff! One question: I am using a no-air tight container. Is that ok to soak overnight or should there be oxygen coming in and stuff coming out?
If you’re using liquid whey, the bacteria need to breathe. It’s my understanding that the bacteria are releasing gasses when they break down the grains, and there needs to be room for that to escape. I’m not very clear on all the anaerobic vs aerobic bacteria and fermentation, so I can’t tell you much more. Sorry! If you’re really interested, you’d probably like Sandor Katz’s book “the Art of Fermentation”
After soaking, if I dehydrate my oats, would that be enough ‘cooking’? For example, to be added to a smoothie, perhaps.
Unfortunately no, Lisha. The heat and/or pressure is what’s needed to make them truly digestible. If you’re not willing to cook them, my only other suggestion would be to play around with adding buckwheat groats or fermenting it for longer to help further break down the grain. I hope this helps!
Could I use a sourdough starter to ferment oats? For example, if I combined oats, water, and a spoonful of sourdough starter and let it sit at room temperature overnight? Would I need to add an acidic component (lemon juice or ACV), or what would be the added benefits of doing this?
Ooo that sounds like a fun idea. The fermentation might be much more rapid, so I’d just keep an eye on it at the halfway mark to be sure you want to keep fermenting it. Give it a try! Skip the acid, just use the starter mixed in the water and oats.
Is there a way of keeping the high amount of resistant starches whilst still reducing the phytic acid amount ? For instance, would letting the cooked oats cool in the fridge before eating them do the trick ?
Yes indeed, Neve!
You’ll want to prepare a batch of oatmeal for the week ahead so you can refrigerate the cooked oatmeal, and then enjoy it at least a few hours later or in the following days. If you heat your leftovers gently, you’ll get lots of resistant starch there!
Do sprouted oats need to be soaked as well?
Do sprouted oats need to be cooked?
Thank you so much for your help!!
Great questions! Sprouted oats do not need to be “soaked”, but they can still be fermented (like I suggest in my recipe) which will provide much further benefits than just soaking or sprouting. Using the liquid whey helps to reduce the phytic acid much further than just soaking/sprouting alone.
You DEFINITELY want to cook those sprouted oats. Cooking is an important step for oats in every single case. Also, be sure they are organic.
Question..started making yogurt in my instapot. I also use it to make steel cut oats. I don’t soak the oats-just cook them in the pressure cooker. I’d love to use my whey in the oats—do I soak first or just replace my water with whey?
Definitely soak first! That combo of a good soak followed by the pressure cooker will make them the lowest in toxins and easiest to digest.
I cook oatmeal without soaking it overnight. Instead I cook oatmeal the morning of and I put leftover’s in a closed container at room temperature and allow it to ferment this way. Is this an acceptable alternative to your method? I’m curious of how this affects the production of healthy bacteria in the oatmeal?
No thats back to front. Your killing all the good stuff before it get a chance to multiply thousands of times. Multiply the good stuff at room temp first, then a gentle heat on stove to keep 90% of the good stuff alive.
Its a five minute heat in a pan next morning then serve and wash the pan. Its ten minutes. If thats too much time lost out your day then use a Stirmate automatic pot stirrer. 🙂
A couple of things are important to note here. If you’re going to ferment, you want the food to be raw. And for this type of fermentation, you don’t want an air-tight environment. It needs oxygen for the microbes to do their job.
Try reversing your method…start soaking the raw oats at room temperature (using water + whey or acid like my recipe suggests), leave the cover partially open so it can breathe, and cook it the next morning (or at least 7 hours later). Enjoy!
Oats do not have enough of the enzyme PHYTASE to break down the high volume of phytic acid in the oats …I think there are studies showing that it didn’t make that much of a difference. I’d try adding some high phytase foods like buckwheat or rye to the overnight soaking as well.
It isn’t the bacteria that breaks down the phytic acid, it’s the enzyme Phytase. The bacteria from fermentation is good for the microbiome. But if you cook it, all the probiotics will be dead.
This looks and sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing such a great informative post. It’s really helpful and amazing so keep it up! All the best.
Thank you Marisa, I came across your post after spending a good 15 min trying to find an answer to whether it was ok to soak oats overnight at room temperature.
I have a question for you, if you don’t mind: can cooked oats (after they´ve been soaked) be left at room temperature overnight?
I’m glad you found this post, too!
I can’t really tell you a precise answer for your question. Once the bacteria are dead (after cooking), there’s not a whole lot to help prevent pathogens from growing in the oatmeal. BUT, I know that my old Italian relatives would happily leave it out overnight without a care in the world.
A few things to consider when deciding what you will do; how wet is your cooked oatmeal? The more moisture, the more risk of spoilage. How airtight is your container? If you press some plastic wrap to touch the surface of the oatmeal and then cover the container, you’re creating an airtight environment that makes it less susceptible to spoilage. And lastly, how’s your gut health? Have you had bouts of food poisoning or h.pylori or pathogenic infections? That means you’d be more susceptible to the bacteria from unrefrigerated food.
I hope this helps you decide for yourself.
What about harmful bacteria or molds, i am worried when i leave the oats out of the fridge all night to soak, that harmful bacteria will have a party in there, i dont want to get sick from (what should be a) nutrient-rich breakfast..
I made oats in coconut milk with buckwheat flour last night in a glass bowl (didnt have yoghurt or acv or lemonjuice) and covered it with plastic foil, and left it on the counter.. however, im not sure if i will be brave enough to eat it.
What are your thoughts on it?
Also… i read this on another website:
“Nourishing Traditions, says that you need to soak your oats overnight, or even ferment them, to remove phytic acid which is said to block absorption of healthy minerals. Others such as Terre Pruitt say that this is unnecessary, since phytic acid can be broken down in the body and it also has benefits during digestion.
Of the two sources, I found Terre Pruitt more persuasive. Thus I would conclude that soaking oats is not necessary, and you can just cook your oats normally.”
I find it very confusing what the best method is..
I just want to find the healthiest way to eat oats, as i have arthritis and i need to add more carbs to my diet due to a lot of weight loss..
Hope you can clear things up for me.
(From the Netherlands) 🙂
Regarding the Terre Pruitt advice, it’s easy for someone to *be so sure* that phytic acid isn’t a problem, as long as they are in good health. But from what you are telling me, your body is inflamed and arthritic. It would be wise to do your best to optimize your nutrient intake. And minimizing phytic acid in your favorite foods, is a great place to start. Side note: if you don’t consume oats often, then don’t even worry about it. But since you’re here, I assume you do.
There are plenty of scientific studies proving the importance and effectiveness of grain fermentation. This isn’t really a matter of debate. It’s just that some people don’t want to accept this because it makes oatmeal/grains more difficult to cook and enjoy. There will always be two camps in every nutrition-related philosophy. I know it can be so confusing.
All we have to do is look back on ancient traditions to see that we’ve lost touch with essential food preparations, such as this one, that make foods digestible and more nourishing.
If you need more convincing, did you see the studies and references I linked to right above the recipe? Those will be helpful.
My advice to you is to use the steps I’ve provided to make your own jar of liquid whey. That jar will keep in your fridge for many months. Use the whey, as directed in this recipe, when soaking your oats overnight, and then you can have ZERO fear of harmful bacteria or mold.
Wishing you all the best!
This is all very interesting! I have been eating steel cut oatmeal every morning for 6 or 7 years. I have also been having some GI track cramping and nausea about that long. I buy it in the bulk bin! I do not use the overnight method – do not like it! I use 6 cups of water & 2 cups of oats. I bring the water to a boil, stir in the oats & cinnamon, cover and remove from heat. I do this at night & it is ready to eat in the morning. It lasts me about 6 days because I eat a hearty portion. So now, I will go check out the cost of the organic steel cut and try your method instead. My question is about making a larger portion that would last several days. Is there any reason that would not be a good idea?
I’m unsure how long it “lasts” after the cooking process, once refrigerated. I would assume there’s really no concern.
You can just press a piece of plastic wrap so that it’s touching the surface of the oatmeal itself, then cover with the lid. That airtight storage will make it last so much longer!
Hopefully this helps with your G.I. symptoms. A broad spectrum digestive enzyme supplement might be something to consider, or removing grains for a couple of weeks to see if your symptoms reside.
Best of luck,
Hi Marisa, we have been adding raw rolled oats to our protein shakes, which, after reading your article, is perhaps not such a good idea. Would it be better to soak the rolled oats overnight and then add them to the protein shakes. However, they are still uncooked if we went about it this way? What would you suggest?
I suggest using cashews or macadamia nuts instead! But if you insist on using oats, I would totally use the cooked version after a good overnight soak.
I hope this helps 🙂
As I have colon cancer in my family, I have recently started making yogurt milk at the right temps (yeah, non contact laser thermometer helps here). Sweetening with bakers sucralose helps greatly in my morning oatmeal that I’ve been using for decades (microwaved). Yeah, type Ii diabetic that found his behavior modification muse.
Now the yogurt milk, which did thicken quite a bit abd formed whey) has greatly improved my energy level.
So more research brough kefir into my view. I am fortunate to work right near the oldest health food store in the US (Martindale’s, Springfield PA) and they had unswetened organic kefir milk.
One good part is that aparently room temp is fine to culture it, which I’ve done, and it worked great although much slower than warmed yogurt.
What prompted this comment was the peer reviewed journal article that I just found in PubMed that I thought to share.
Thanks for a great article and I will opt in gladly.
Here’s the link:
you mention using whey, can whey protein powder be used as well? or would that be better suited after the oats have soaked?
Whey protein powder will not give you the benefits described here regarding liquid whey, because the powder is processed too much. You can stir in some whey protein powder once your oatmeal is cooked, while it’s not too hot, if you’d like the added protein.
Great information! 🙂
But I am a little confused in regard to the gluten-free or regular oat bran. Which do I get to soak overnight?
Also, if I add kefir – how much do I add per cup and will it be OK to cook later given the high temperature?
Thanks a lot!
I always suggest certified gluten-free and organic oats no matter which kind of oats you buy. But if you do not have a gluten-sensitivity then only the word “organic” is important.
2 Tablespoons Kefir per cup of water and cup of oats.
Yes, cooking is very important. You must cook to further degrade the grains for proper digestion and lower toxins. And interestingly enough, the probiotics still provide benefits even though you’re cooking them.
I just tried overnight oats using organic sprouted rolled oats (packaged), boxed creamed coconut, water, peanut butter, and banana. I left them on the kitchen counter until morning. They smell almost fermented and not sure they are safe to eat. Do you have any experience with this happening?
Sounds like a great creation, but creamed coconut is prone to spoilage especially without a starter culture like the “liquid whey” or yogurt I recommend in this recipe. I suggest you soak the oats first, with the banana is fine, but add the coconut cream and peanut butter after the soaking period.
Hi love, wonderful post.
If i don’t want to go through the trouble of straining whey etc. Can I just add a tbsp of yoghurt to my soaking mixture of oats and water? If yes, whats your recommended amount that should be added per half cup oats and 1 cup water?
Thanks for the compliment. You can swap yogurt for the whey in this recipe. 2 Tablespoons per 1 cup of soaking water.
Thanks! This is a wonderful post. I make homemade kefir and I soaked my rolled oats in 1TB of my kefir. It was amazing. Way easier to digest. I had stopped eating oats very often, but now I will eat them more and try other grains this way as well.
I do have a suggestion. I don’t know why you recommend cooking the oatmeal in a non-stick pot. You are so careful and concerned about the glyphosate (and rightly so!) yet you don’t seem concerned about the teflon used in non-stick pots….
Ahhhh Yes, Jean, thanks for bringing that to my attention! I will update this post to include more detail there. I am extremely particular about the non-stick pans I use, and mentioned some of my favorites at the end of this post: https://mylongevitykitchen.com/nutty-butter-collagen-bars/
Surely the thing that is wrong with the trend is that we really do not want Oats to digest more quickly at all.
The trend seems to have come from athletes who want energy quickly. Most of us actually want less energy delivered slowly.
So is it not better to eat raw oats? Plus add some nuts to give some good fats, some fruit and a mix of grains in there – perhaps call it museli!
If I eat museli I am full until lunch and have energy as the food digests through the morning. If I eat cooked porridge oats I feel it all digested within an hour or so and want to snack. So why not slow down digestion by eating raw complex carbs.
I like the way you’re thinking, but we have to learn from our wise ancestors and treat seeds (grains) the way they need to be treated so that our human digestive systems can break them down and access the nutrients. Unfortunately, the phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that the plants produce were created over millions of years of seed evolution so that the seed can withstand digestion and make it to the soil unscathed—so that it can reproduce into a plant. Without cooking and/or sprouting/soaking/fermenting we are really limited in what we can digest or absorb from the seed.
With all of that being said, there are many people who can still eat oats uncooked or unsoaked and they may never have issues with their health because of that. For the rest of us, we have more sensitive GI tracts, nutrient deficiencies, and even a sensitive immune system which cannot compete with the plant chemicals that exist in seeds/grains.
I hope this all makes sense and, by all means, the most important thing is to do what makes your body feel good regardless of what anyone else says!
But then we also are told to eat lots of fibre simply as we need undigested food to pass through us and help our system. We need that non-broken down food for a healthy digestive system.
Most people are looking at their diet for weight loss, not because they have some lack of nutrients. So for most people surely they want oats in a way that will fill them up, keep them feeling full give them a healthy digestive system, and have a fair amount of the calories pass through them undigested. Raw unsoaked Oats does this. All these benefits seem to be reduced by breaking down the oats by soaking them and you are left with basically a more refined carb- the sort we are told to avoid.
Is rinsing out the soaking water necessary? How much microwave time do you recommend? Can I soak in fridge and microwave after?
You do not have to rinse after soaking (with soaking nuts and beans you do).
I’ve never microwaved oatmeal before! I would just cook them as you usually do. Try 1 minute, stir and taste, and cook another minute if needed to completely soften.
Don’t soak in the fridge or that will “freeze” the fermentation process and you will not get any of those benefits. Room temperature, or warmer, is key!
In the recipe rinsing off the soaking water is optional. After that you add 1 cup of water and cook. My question is if you add one cup you end up with two and if you rinse you end up with one cup of water for the cooking, which is half. So what is the right amount to cook them in? Because I assume they need to absorb the water.
Thank you for a wonderful and informative post! Cannot wait to make my next oats.
I have a question – does the same soaking principle apply for quinoa and chia seeds? If I want to alternate between these for breakfast?
Also, could I just add chia seeds to the oats during soaking process?
Thanks so much!
Thank you for the compliments. I would guess that you can soak the quinoa in the same soaking liquid as the oats.
You can soak the chia seeds too but I don’t think you should cook the chia seeds at all. So my suggestion to you is to soak the chia seeds in some water while you cook the oats and then when you’re ready to eat—and when the oats are not too hot —stir your chia seeds in.
If you’re not talking about mixing them all together, then just know that you can soak your quinoa in water with a splash of ACV or lemon (the whey is not really necessary, but a nice addition) and soak at room temperature for up to 8 hours.
I’m coming at this from a different angle: I want camping breakfast!
I was thrilled to hear about overnight soaking at room temp, as I obviously won’t have a fridge, but now that I hear about the fermentation, I’m slightly worried about my screw-top soak jar. How much pressurizing is likely to happen? It has to be sealed, as it’s going to be hanging in a bear bag. 🙂
Thanks for your advice!
Oh great question! Maybe you should look for a breathable spill-proof jar that’s intended for fermentation. Something like this might do the job! https://amzn.to/2K6Rork (affiliate link)
P.S. I am curious as to what a “bear bag” is.
Oh!….sorry, I didn’t mean to be a camping snob. 🙂
When you’re camping in bear country, you have to put all your food (and scented products) in a bag and hang it ten feet in the air. Since it gets pulled up (either over a far-from-trunk tree limb or a rope strung between two trees), it gets spun and a little tumbled on the way up and down, so a “loosely covered” container is NOT an option!
Those lids are really cool, and I may get some for some kitchen projects, but they won’t work for my camping trip. I definitely can’t take a glass mason jar, and even if I found a plastic or metal jar with the correct thread, it’s unlikely to nest nicely in my cook pot.
BUT here’s an update: I performed an experiment at home, yesterday, and I’m happy to report that a 22-hour fermentation did not over-pressurize my jar. As soon as I poured the warm water in and screwed it shut, I was pretty confident it would be ok: as the water cools, it pulls a bit of a vacuum. Also I was only doing 1/3 c steel-cut oats in a 2-cup jar, so there was quite a bit of extra space for a little pressure. When I opened it this morning, there wasn’t even a pop or hiss. I’m good to go!
p.s. dehydrated blueberries, cinnamon, and pecans for the win. 😉
Glad to see the raw grain thing cleared up. So much for muesli. People think, oh it’s Swiss so it must be good. Nope.
Will extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the grains? (If I had access to grass fed raw butter then I would use it but as I don’t I would rather use olive oil)
It sure will. If you like the taste then go for it!
Thanks for your reply 🙂
Thanks a lot, Marisa. I’ve noticed since then you get a lot of questions, so I can understand. Thanks for the info and getting back to me. Great stuff.
Is it necessary to cook the oatmeal after the overnight soak?
I know someone asked a similar question earlier but I think they were asking in the context of soaking for a shorter period of time (in the morning).
If it is necessary to cook them, in cases where I am on the go, would pouring boiling water from the kettle and, possibly, microwaving them be okay?
Yes, cooking is a necessary step in the process. And yes, great idea. Pouring boiling water from a kettle or microwave is a great solution.
I am confused. Some recipes for oats fermentation doesn’t use any whey or acid medium. I have been fermenting my oats just using water and rye flour. Am I missing something or doing something wrong? Thanks
You can do it that way, but soaked grains really benefit from a little boost. Three examples of boosts are adding the rye flour (you got it there), adding lactic acid-eating bacteria (liquid whey), or acidulated water (adding ACV or lemon to the water). The more boosts you do, the more phytates you’ll eliminate, and the more nutritious your oats will be! It’s up to you how much effort you want to put into your oatmeal. If you eat them daily, I highly recommend adding another “boost”.
Hi Marisa !
I recently went back to eating overnight soaked oats after a series of problems it might have caused me previously.
Doctors mentioned it couldn’t have been an intolerance to gluten since I’ve been eating many other similar type foods such as rice and bread with no adverse effects and so I was left with that conclusion.
After stumbling upon your post, I now see that the cause of it would likely be the manner in which I soak my oats. Please help me out here as I would really like to get this right and prevent future problems such as irritable bowels and rashes as I have had before with a diet like this.
I’m using 4 tbsp of Organic rolled oats. Instead of soaking with the above mentioned, I’m actually using unsweetened almond milk. Is this fine? If not, would it be alright if I proceed to add 2 tbsp of plain Greek yogurt for the soaking process ?
I used to soak my oats in the refrigerator. If I am soaking using almond milk (in room temp.) would the almond milk be able to withstand cooking/heating after 24 hrs of soaking? (Take note that Plain Greek yogurt has been added)
I really do hope to hear from you!
Thanks and I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a lengthy post! This is going to help many others like me who have been misguided in our journey towards a healthier lifestyle !
I totally feel you! I appreciate how determined you are, and I’m confident you can figure it out this time if you’re sure it’s not grains you’re reacting to.
If you’re soaking 4 Tbsp of Organic Oats (1/4 cup of oats), then I’d suggest you soak them in purified warm water with 2 teaspoons of plain greek yogurt (notice I said teaspoons; you don’t need 2 tablespoons because you’re only making a fraction of the oats I suggest in the recipe). Soak at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
THEN, when you’re ready to cook them (or eat them) add your almond milk (1/4 Cup) and heat it on the stove. Yes, the almond milk can be heated; and don’t worry about heating the yogurt that you soaked with because it has done it’s job in the soaking period.
I recommended that you save the almond milk for the cooking session because it’s not the proper soaking environment or pH that you need to make the oats nutritious.
I hope this helps!
Thanks for the prompt response!
I appreciate it.
I have one another question, if I am unable to get access to purified/filtered water right now, what other means am I left with?
Since it is possible to store Almond Milk at room temp, would it be alright to replace the water within almond milk and allow it to sit together with the 2tsp of yogurt for 24hrs? Will the yogurt still be able to do it’s job?
Also, how long should the cooking/heating process be in this case since it is almond milk.
Thank you once again!
Go ahead and give it a try. Your almond milk stays at room temperature because it is made with preservatives. The preservatives will likely prevent the probiotic cultures from doing their job in the soaking process. But it is still going to help make those oats more digestible. Just do what you can, no need to strive for perfection. If it comes to the point where you’re eating oatmeal daily, I recommend you get a few gallons of purified water from the grocery store or gas station to have on hand for this. Cooking times/methods will stay the same with almond milk too.
I know I will miss out on some nutrients, but is it safe to eat oats left soaking overnight out of the fridge without things like whey?
Yes, it is safe to eat oats that have been soaking in water overnight at room temperature, even if you don’t use whey. I do suggest ACV or Lemon Juice because it makes the water a pH level that the oats need to soak properly. You will be safe without it, but it’s not NEARLY as effective. If you’re going to forgo these strategies, then buy some organic rye flour or seeds and add a couple of tablespoons to your soaking oats (this provides lactase which is needed for an effective soak)…not my favorite option.
Thanks for responding! Last question, are they safe to eat even if you dont finish them with a quick cooking?
Safe is a tricky word…yes they are “safe” to eat, but they are not necessarily healthy or nutritious to eat without cooking. There will still be a high level of phytic acid and lectins which are mostly destroyed during cooking. I highly recommend cooking as it only takes 5 minutes! Even the microwave would be better than skipping cooking.
Does cooking cause the oats to expand more than soaking? Does the resistant starch remain if the oats are cooked, cooled, then reheated?
The oats “expand” just slightly to absorb the cooking liquid. But the texture is like a classic oatmeal or porridge. Raw/overnight oats are touted for their resistant starch content, but what value does that have when you consider the anti-nutrients that come along with it (phytic acid and lectins)? I suggest you try green tipped bananas, green banana flour, and potato starch for resistant starch. You can freeze your chopped green tipped banana for smoothies, you can simply drink a teaspoon of potato starch with water each day (Dr. Mark Hyman suggests that), or you can bake many different things with green banana flour. You can also cook organic potatoes, or organic white rice, and eat it the next day as leftovers. Even after reheating, the starches change and you still get some resistant starch. You can eat cold potato salad for the most benefits there. I hope this helps!
I think you just solved my unexplained stomach aches for the past few months! I started doing overnight oats a while back and I love the taste but I’ve been getting awful stomach cramps in the afternoon. I couldn’t figure it out and finally thought maybe it was the oats, but I’ve been eating cooked oatmeal my whole life. It must be the raw oats. I will definitely try room temperature with kefir. Thank you!
I feel you Lauren! On your quest for great health, things got even harder. Let me know how it goes with the room temp fermentation, and you’d be best going for 24 hours with a bit of organic buckwheat/organic-rye flour if you’re not going to cook them. In my opinion, cooking is a key part of the nutrition here. Don’t be afraid to cook them! It’s a good thing in this case
I am a newbie, and yes I am one of the ones who have it all wrong. 🙁
I have been using the refrigerator method to soak my oats. I have been reading all the comments and your responses but still confusing.
So HELP! I love oats… So I know now to start with Organic oats. Where do I go from here?
Steel cut or Rolled?
Would you recommend a recipe please?
I recommend Organic and Gluten-Free Rolled Oats or Steel Cut. Bonus points if the label says they were not heat treated (sometimes called Irish or Scottish Oats). I don’t recommend the bulk bins though because the delicate fatty acids are oxidized when stored in bulk and exposed to oxygen.
Did you see the recipe here in this post? I hope you enjoy.
Not clear. Is irish or scottish oats heat treated or not. Can be read both ways in this post!
Hello, I have heard that almost all oats being sold have been heated at least briefly at temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. Usually at 70 degrees Celsius. This makes the process of Phytase impossible. That is why I prefer naked oats. Do you have any information on the 40 degree Celsius issue?
Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I needed to look up a few things to really wrap my head around the different angles here, but I’m glad I did. I am still unfamiliar with the way most oats are pre-treated (whether rolled oats or steel cut)…but let’s say they are all heated to 70 degrees celsius (158F). The reason I suggest that everyone add acid whey to the soaking oatmeal liquid is that those lacto-bacteria produce phytase. So that’s a major reason to choose that route.
If you choose the lemon/ACV route instead of whey or yogurt/kefir, then you’re likely only getting the benefits of sprouting/soaking but not fermenting (because the phytase is no longer in the grain to release during soaking). This is another reason why so many bloggers or traditional bakers use rye and buckwheat to ferment other grains; they are high in phytase and not heat-treated like oatmeal.
Now, even if you’re using the lemon/ACV, without the other grains, there are still so many benefits like breaking down enzyme inhibitors, lessening the presence of lectin proteins, and activating other absorbable B Vitamins. So soak away, and use whey whenever possible.
One of the best written blogs on this topic. Thank you. I sm hoping fresh lime juice is ok or better to stick to lemon? Also would buckwheat flour be ok or better to stick to whole kernels?
Also have you tried steel cut oats? Would the measurement of water be the same or more due to multiple smaller granules meaning greater total surface area? Also is it safer to drain excess water after soak or you think there is unlikely to be nasties in it to bother? I noticed in another post and your recipe rinsing is optional but want to double check if this is true if water is not fully absorbed 🙂
Thank you so much Rohan. Lime juice is fine if you like the turnout (flavor). I’m actually not sure about the buckwheat flour. I know that Weston A Price Foundation has a recipe for a sourdough pancake starter that uses buckwheat flour to feed the starter, so maybe it will be good here too. The only thing is that that means you’re eating the residual flour in your oatmeal. Maybe like the lime juice it’s just worth a try to see if you like the result.
About the steel cut oats. They take longer to soak. I don’t believe they’ll need more water, just more time. 24 hours is my recommendation. There shouldn’t be excess water after soaking, but if there is then drain it. That liquid contains the antinutrients that were removed from the grain.
I have been enjoying “overnight oats” recently. This is just combining the oats with milk, yogurt, berries etc then eating it cold, right out of the fridge… At first I thought, “great, I’m soaking my oats, no more phytic acid!” Now I’m not so sure I should be eating it! Should I be soaking in water and vinegar & rinsing THEN making overnight oats? Help!
Go ahead and soak in water with 2 Tbsp plain yogurt (the liquid on top is the gold you want, but yogurt works too). Then in the morning, add your milk and cook on the stovetop for 5 minutes (organic heavy cream with some water would be a better choice for you than milk).
It’s great that you’re thinking about how to make it the most nutritious. Don’t be discouraged!
Dont put it in the fridge. It couldnt be any clearer. So many folks addicted in the routine of using the fridge as a storage box. Put the ingredients in an unplugged slow cooker for 12 hours. That way you wont feel tempted to put it in the fridge!
Will the apple cider vinegar leave a taste with the oatmeal?
It surprisingly doesn’t change the taste much. The oats prefer the acidic environment. Try it with 1 Tablespoon and rinse the oats with a mesh strainer after soaking overnight. If you’re a self-described fussy eater then try it with 1 teaspoon the first time just in case. Let me know what you think!
Actually, I thought I had that memorized correctly, but it’s been so long since I made it with lemon or vinegar. In the recipe here I specified 1.5 teaspoons vinegar per cup of soaking liquid. So go ahead and try it with 1/2 – 1.5 teaspoons.
Thanks for this article. The process sounds simple and clear compared to a lot of other sources and should be really helpful.
I wonder if you could answer a few questions I have:
1) I’ve recently started having organic steel cut oats. What’s your opinion on them compared to rolled oats?
2) Speaking of whey, would whey protein isolate (WPI) protein powder serve any similar and beneficial function to the whey you’ve suggested? Could I soak it with that by any chance?
3) Why do you suggest we always “buy ORGANIC Oats and any gluten-containing grains” but the recipe below says “1 Cup gluten-free ROLLED OATS”? Should I be going for gluten-containing or gluten-free?
Thanks again. I really love the info, it’s just what I was looking for.
Guess my questions suck.
I try my best to answer every single question, I apologize for missing yours.
1) About the steel cut oats. They take longer to soak. I don’t believe they’ll need more water, just more time to soak it up. 24 hours is my recommendation. I haven’t tried it myself.
2) I wish I knew for sure here regarding the whey protein, but my guess is that there’s no enzymatic or probiotic activity left in protein powders which means that there won’t be a breakdown/fermentation of the grain. Try making your own whey like I describe at the end of this blog post. It’s super easy and you can keep a jar in your fridge for months.
3) Maybe I should rephrase that sentence “buy organic oats and any gluten-containing grains”…what I meant was to always buy organic grains vs non-organic grains, and that it’s even more important to buy organic regarding grains which contain gluten. As you’ll see in the rest of that paragraph I explain how gluten reacts with the herbicide chemical named glyphosate (which is sprayed on non-organic grains), in our gut, triggering the opening of our tight junctions on the wall of our intestines. This down the line can trigger immune reactions, autoimmunity, skin disorders, chronic inflammation, and food sensitivities.
Thanks again, Marissa. In the age of being anti-gluten for everything, I just had to clarify.
Great article! I have been doing overnight oats in line with the “fad” trending today for some time now. With that said I usually soak my oats in vanilla or chocolate almond milk (depending on recipe), thus negating any additional sweetener. Since this is made with water and whey, is there an opportunity to add the almond milk back in? I’m not a big fan of soup-y oatmeal so worried about putting it in while cooking. Thoughts, comments? – ps a couple of my fav recipes are “strawberries and cream” and “chocolate and cherry”
Thanks for the compliment Christen! You’ll want to soak them in the water/whey overnight, then you can cook them with your almond milk (step 3 in my recipe instructs you to add 1 cup of water; just do almond milk instead). It won’t be soupy at all, it’ll be thick like porridge!
Thanks so much for this post. I used to soak organic rolled oats in milk, banana, flax and chia seeds and add peanut butter and blueberries just before eating.
I will modify my method to this: soak organic rolled oats in warm water (add kefir or acv) overnight. Cook on stovetop before eating with more water or add coconut milk. My question is when to add flax seed/chia mixture? Is soaking the mixture with banana the wrong thing to do once refrigerated? Is adding peanut butter ok (just before eating)?
Thanks so much!
First of all, your version sounds so delicious! Also, just to clarify, the soaked oats should be left at room temperature (or warmer) to ferment overnight; not refrigerated. That part is critical for the fermentation and proper breakdown of the grain. Go ahead and soak extra, and then store the leftovers in the fridge (before or after cooking) to save time in the future.
Here’s what I suggest you do with the flax, chia, and banana: Stir the crushed flax seed and whole chia seed in with the oats before you soak them. Basically, all seeds benefit from the soaking process just the same as the oats do.
A quick note: you’ll have to crush the flax seeds before eating them, in order to properly digest and absorb the benefits. Any grinder will do (it’s important to grind fresh every time or the fats can go rancid quickly), but they make a flax seed grinder that I love to use! You can store the whole flax seeds in the top of the grinder, and then just grind as you need it. Here’s the link: http://amzn.to/2FAtBdF . You can also grind the flax seed on top of your oatmeal right before you eat it (when you add your blueberries)
Back to my suggestion: you might prefer the banana added after the soak. When you add anything with sugar it will change the way the bacteria behave in the soaking liquid, which ultimately changes the consistency of your resulting oatmeal. If you’re the type of person that likes to experiment, then I suggest you split your soaking oatmeal into two bowls and add banana to one bowl. Then you can compare the outcome and see what you think of the taste and texture. If you want to just know the best solution, I think you might be better off soaking/fermenting without the banana and adding it afterwards.
Enjoy your yummy creation! You should feel proud of yourself for dedicating such time and thoughtfulness to your food.
Thanks so much, Marisa! This morning I just ended up cooking what I had originally soaked before reading your post (oats in milk, bananas, flax and chia) on the stove top and it was STILL delicious (I was iffy about the texture of warm bananas!).
Moving forward I’ll just soak the oats in water/kefir + crushed seeds overnight at room temp and will add the fresh fruit + peanut butter right after cooking and just before eating. Thanks again for sharing this post. It’s a regular breakfast item for me, so I want to do it right.
I read that phytic acid can lead to dental carries, due to the acid blocking essential nutrients. Have you ever read anything like that? My family and I recently got into uncooked overnight oats because it’s so easy to grab and go. But you are saying I should soak 1 cup of organic rolled oats w/filtered warm water, add 2 TB of ACV, lemon juice or kefir cover overnight in the refrigerator? In the morning do I have to rinse the oats or can I just place the soaked oats in a pot to be cooked? Thank you for this insightful article. I want to ensure my family is absorbing all of the important nutrients.
I almost missed your comment Tiana. Thanks for your patience!
Yes, I have heard how a diet high in phytic acid can disrupt the cleaning and reparative mechanisms in our teeth/oral microbiome. It will help tremendously if you start to soak or ferment all grains you consume.
Soak the oats overnight at room temperature. That part is important. You do not want to soak in the refrigerator or it will defeat the purpose and arrest the fermentation process.
After soaking overnight, you can just add more liquid and cook. You don’t have to rinse them. Some people prefer to rinse them (especially if you use lemon or ACV) because it balances the flavor to something more familiar.
Your family is very lucky to have you taking such great care!
Question: how do I store the remainder of fermented oats if I don’t use them all at once?
You can store them in the fridge after the overnight fermentation. Happy meal prep for you!
Thank you for your thoughtful and prompt reply Marisa, i really appreciate that.
My method is as follows…. I blitz a mixture of nuts and seeds in a coffee grinder, i then add one part of this mix to four parts blitzed rolled oats, i then pour over hot milk, when cool i add three tablespoons of kefir or active yoghurt and leave loosely covered overnight. The reason i blitz the nuts and oats is because it hugely increases the surface area of the mixture which provides the perfect requirements for the kefir to produce the maximum amount of good bacteria in the gut. add some fruit if desired in the morning.
Interesting idea. It also sounds so delicious. I do have a couple of concerns that may or may not be warranted. When we heat milk to the point that it is hot, we likely will denature (disfigure) the proteins which may eventually cause some harm in our GI tract. Secondly, nuts and oats have very fragile fats that oxidize and go rancid easily. Grinding them in advance would almost ensure these rancid fats. If you grind them fresh (including the oats) and mix them with the culture, they might be okay if loosely covered—but I am not sure! Sorry to rain on the delicious parade, but i thought I would share with you my initial thoughts.
Nice posts and tips. But…
At what point are we just becoming nitpicking pansies?? Now you can’t heat milk? Jeesh. Heating warm milk has been used for centuries (with benefit) and never killed anyone.
Seriously. It’s Oatmeal, and we are no longer our ancestors.
I’ve eaten quaker NON-organic oats heated with milk and water since birth, and Ive done it overnight refrigerator way.. with no issues whatsoever.
So are you recommending these “rules” for “everyone” or for the small percentage of those sensitive to oats if they aren’t prepared..
just “this way” ..
Thanks for pulling back the reins. Even I can get lost in all of the details even though I strive to be the kind of health coach who values flexibility and realistic adaptations for modern life. I only suggest “rules” to people who inquire about them.
I will suggest to you the same thing I tell anyone who’s overwhelmed with the details/advice: start optimizing the foods—and preparations of foods—which you eat the most of. That’s the most important thing. If you eat oatmeal every day, then you might wish to prepare it in such a careful way. If you enjoy it maybe once or twice a week, I wouldn’t worry about it (as long as you don’t have irritating GI issues).
Cheers to some laid-back easy meals. Life’s too short 😉
Hi Marisa, would it be ok to cook the rolled oats in milk..allow to cool, then add the kefir and ferment overnight at room temperature, then eat in the morning, thus keeping the kefir good bacteria without killing them in the cooking process?
That’s a good question. I would imagine once you cook the oats then they are “sterilized” and won’t encourage bacterial fermentation. But maybe I am wrong with that guess because it is still a starchy food—which would provide food for the bacteria. Hmmmm, I’m sorry I don’t really know.
Remember, there are many benefits to using probiotic-rich foods besides the actual live cultures making it into our GI tract. The probiotic bacteria multiply the vitamins available in the food you are fermenting, and they make it easier to digest. There are probably way more benefits that science hasn’t been able to identify yet. So don’t be afraid to cook it after a good cultured soak. You can always add a bit more kefir onto your oatmeal when you eat it (after cooking).
Hi, can I just add a scoop of yogurt instead of straining for whey if I’m in a rush….would this work the same if I soak it 8-12 hrs? Is there an easier way to get whey? If you wanted to make this every day for breakfast you’d need to strain a lot of yogurt?
You can use yogurt instead of just the whey if you’re in a rush. And check out the end of this very blog post for tips on how to easily make your own whey. If you like the yogurt in your oatmeal, then go for it since it’s more convenient.
Do I have to cook the soaked oatmeal? Can I add kefir in the morning, before eating, and still get the required benefits of the oatmeal?
It’s a pretty important step to cook the oatmeal because it breaks down the grain even further, and it only takes about 5 minutes. The soaking process is also important, offering different benefits from the cooking. If you add kefir to your oatmeal before eating, it would have to be left for at least 7 hours at room temperature to get any significant reduction in the phytic acid. The whole process seems lengthy, but it’s very hands-off and simple. I hope you will give it a try.
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Hello MLK, can unstabilized rolled oats (I believe less processed) be used in the same way as you have previously suggested.
Yup! Go for it
Hi if I double or triple the amount of oats to make a larger portion then should i add more whey or kefir when I soak?
Yup! You got it. Just double or triple the water and whey/kefir. If you don’t have enough, that’s okay.
Hello, I have a couple of packets of raw sprouted oats that have not been steamed. I can’t eat gluten and although I know you said heating the oats is pretty much essential I can’t always do that as sometimes I have no access to hot water or heat…camping, festivals etc… I am wondering if there could be any bad bacteria contamination issues if I eat raw sprouted oats that have only been soaked in yogurt and/or milk but not heated? Thanks!
I suggest that you always use a probiotic/yogurt/whey liquid to soak the oats if you’re not cooking them. Are you soaking them in a cooler with ice or out in room temperature? Ideally it would be covered loosely so the bacteria can breathe as it ferments, and at room temperature or warmer. You’d have to cover with a towel and wrap it around the bowl with a rubber band or tight string to keep pests out.
Milk doesn’t sound like a good idea without the probiotic cultures to help the good bacteria thrive (versus the bad bacteria).
Does this answer your question? Thanks for reading.
Yes thank you! I will go for a non cooled soak with a probiotic as you suggest for 8 to 12 hours and wrap it as you described, that sounds great. Being gluten free it is great to have these oats as an option. I was just slightly wary that if the oats had not been steamed to kill any unwanted bacteria on them then the soaking process could encourage some naturally occurring bad bacteria rather than the good guys but if the probiotics should steer things in the right direction that makes sense. Thanks for the speedy response.
Yup! No need to worry about bad bacteria. You’re in the clear.
Really good article! One question though: you seem to suggest in your article that adding a cultured medium such as kefir will cause fermentation which will break down phytic acid. However, when adding an acid like lemon juice or ACV, you must add a phytase rich grain like buckwheat to break down phytic acid effectively. Is this because the bacteria present in cultured mediums will break down the phytic acid in the oats regardless of phytase availability from the oats themselves? That is, if fermentation is happening, phytase does not need to be present to break down phytic acid because it is actually the bacterial activity breaking down the phytic acid?
The lactobacilli, or bacteria in the fermenting liquid, can acutally produce phytase. Without the bacteria, as in the case of a lemon juice soak, most people would benefit from adding a phytase rich grain to the soaking liquid. But the soaking process alone does stimulate phytase and reduce phytic acid. I hope this helps! I may sound like a pro, but all this science-y stuff is new for me too! That’s about as far as I can explain it.
Doesn’t cooking the oatmeal destroy a lot of the things in it that are really good for you?
Cooking does not destroy the vitamins and minerals that we hope to gain from consuming oats. You can think of oats like grains or rice or even conventional flour. We wouldn’t benefit from eating those raw, would we? The grains (or seeds of grasses) need to be cooked in order to assist in the digestive process and eliminate toxins.
It’s easy to confuse the benefits of eating raw vegetables (to preserve the enzymes, phytonutrients, and antioxidants) with the benefits of cooking other foods. If we focus on what we wish to obtain from the certain food (i.e. vitamins, macronutrients, minerals, antioxidants, or phytonutrients) it can help us determine whether it is better to eat cooked or raw. In this case, regarding grains, we are interested in the vitamins, minerals, and possibly proteins, and fats. All of which are preserved and more accessible when we cook them.
Hope this helps!
I finally found an article that explains what I’ve been seriously wondering!! I knew the science behind it all but seeing ALLLLLLLLLLL the posts on pinterest about “overnight oats” in the fridge had me wondering if I was MISSING SOMETHING??? Uh, nope! lol… so thank you for the confirmations. ALSO I’m commenting to commend you on your amazing and refreshing positive responses to everyone who has left comments and questions, many of which are nearly exactly the same. In a world of impatience, this was so nice to witness. 🙂
Sounds like you’re ahead of the game Madelyn! Your instincts are working in your favor. Thank you so much for your comment. I think I have patience here for several reasons; mainly because I’m happy to see readers are interested in my post, and because I know EXACTLY how they feel to be so confused. For some reason, this stuff is so confusing to must of us who were born after 1950.
If i plan to cook the oats in milk and sugar the next morning , is it ok to soak it in acidic medium ?
Yup! Go for it.
will soaking in acidic medium be OK if i plan to cook the oats with milk and sugar the next morning ?
Can you please explain the reason for cooking the soaked oatmeal in whey to get the good bacteria’s fermenting only to ruin them in cooking them? I don’t understand what’s wrong with eating them uncooked if they have soaked for 24 hours. I’d love to know more if you can explain! Thanks:)
Hi Tina, I know this can be so confusing! Really what we want the good bacteria for (in the soaking stage) is to start “digesting” the grain for us. We’re also stimulating Phytase, an enzyme needed to break down the phytic acid. After that, we don’t really need the bacteria anymore. They’ve done their job! We want to cook the oats afterwards because there’s still more work to do. It’s a combination of soaking/fermenting AND cooking that will eliminate most of the phytic acid and troublesome lectins in grains (also known as seeds of grasses). This is a traditional method of food preparation for a reason; our ancestors learned that this was the ideal way to consume nuts and seeds in order to make them healthful. Groups who did this would thrive, and those who didn’t would become sick over time. I hope you find this information useful!
I’m going on vacation next week and I am thinking about eating overnight oats for breakfast after reading your article.
But is it necessary to cook the oats that are soaked in warm water? Or is it still safe for me to eat them without cooking them afterwards?
Cooking is a very important step in my opinion. Are you planning to eat this on vacation where you will be without a stove or microwave? If the answer is yes, then here’s my suggestion: Soak the oats in a glass bowl for 24 hours as instructed in the recipe. Then when you’re almost ready to eat, pour HOT water from the coffee machine over your oats and cover with a plate or something to keep the steam in for 10 minutes. If you have a microwave then you can just cook them in there (or boil the water in there). I wouldn’t skip the cooking step, especially if you plan to do this more than once a week (the effects it can have on you depends on your current state of health and digestive symptoms). I hope this helps! Thanks for reading Cindy!
Do you have to drain the oats after soaking? Before you cook them I mean.
You’ll notice when you soak them, the liquid is compltely absorbed by the oats. Feel free to rinse if you wish, but there’s no need to (and possibly benefits when avoiding the rinse). Enjoy!
Hey mind explaining why it shouldn’t be in the refrigerator? You kinda only explained what soaking in room temperature does :).
Also, won’t milk go bad overnight in room temperature? I’m quite scared of getting food poisoning.
I noticed as I soak my oats longer there seems to be a layer of sticky substance above the milk, do you know what that is too? thanks alot!
Hi there Pamela, I had the same questions myself a while back before getting into fermented and cultured foods. Milk has to be refrigerated only so it doesn’t spoil, but when milk spoils it’s actually going “sour” like the expression implies. The bacteria in the milk starts to breakdown the lactose (sugars) and releases a byproduct called lactic acid. This is the good stuff! This process is old-school buttermilk…milk that’s gone sour or allowed to ferment. Either way, just to clarify, my recipe is calling for yogurt or the liquid from your yogurt (lactic acid whey), or acid like lemon juice/apple cider vinegar. By using these already cultured ingredients you are jump-starting the process of good bacteria. And yes, the result is sticky…even slimy and a film is formed on top. This is good! I hope this information helps you understand a little more about this old-fashioned, safe, and natural process. These are the type of bugs that have the ability to protect you from food poisoning or other bad bacteria. Enjoy!
I’m just wondering since yogurt and milk have to be refrigerated, how do they not go bad overnight when left out for several hours?
That’s a great question! The good bacteria in the yogurt are thriving when left out with “food” to eat like oatmeal. So in this case, instead of spoiling, they are fermenting; and the good bacteria are multiplying. Does that make sense?
Well I have one more question to do with cooking oats. I like to meal prep (24hr in advanced) and I have just started cooking them in the microwave for 2 to 2:30min. Is this ok or should I cook it a bit longer in a pan.
Sub question (needn’t be answered): Do I need to soak steel cut oats.
I know it’s a tough adjustment to make, but I highly recommend heating the oats on the stovetop (or even in the oven around 200F if you don’t want to tend to it). The microwave destroys nutrients, so what’s the point of trying to make a nutritious meal if we damage it in the microwave?
I don’t know enough about steel cut oats to be sure, but I do understand that they are not processed as much as rolled oats which means they will be harder to break down when soaking, cooking, and digesting. I recommend a 24 hour soak and cooking until very soft.
Thanks for the reply. That’s a great idea about heating in the oven, I can put them in go for 20-30 min run then it should be good by the time I return — all good things take time.
I just wanted to point out that what you are saying about microwaves isn’t quite true. Microwaving can actually be better with regards to retaining nutrients:
What about Greek yogurt? In place of vinegar.
Greek Yogurt is similar to regular yogurt, but it has even more of the “whey” removed…which is why it is thicker. The whey is really what does the magic here, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work; there’s still some whey left in that greek yogurt or it would be cheese! I think you should try it and see how you like it. Otherwise just use a little lemon juice or vinegar and you’re good to go.
Thanks I will. I have been using cyder vinegar for a while and putting it in the fridge. I tried microwaving some for breakfast the other day a felt really good in comparison with eating it cold. Thanks for the info.
Wow Marisa, thanks for the audio version!
That is so awesome, what a time saver, and you are enjoyable to listen too.
That is eye opening about soaking grains and acids. Your mission is admirable and inspiring as I look to improve my nutrition.
That’s great to hear! I am happy you took a listen. Thank you for the compliments 🙂
PS I thought of you today because I found this bakery in Lisle that sells all sprouted and true sourdough breads. Check it out: http://www.mannaorganicbakery.com/products.html
Or you could just increase your mineral intake like you should already be doing fermentation increases histamine content in foods this article is interesting but unfortunately one sided
Great post! I just started eating overnight oatmeal, and I’m going to have to start adding in some whey or yogurt! I also soak rolled oats overnight in some almond milk, and I eat it cold like muesli. I don’t cook it in the morning. Should I?
Hi Jim, Thank you! That muesli style oatmeal sounds great. I would suggest you add 2 Tablespoons of a plain almond milk yogurt (I buy a brand called Kite Hill) to your soaking liquid; check to be sure the one you buy has live cultures on the ingredient list. Then, if you don’t cook it there will still be less phytic acid and more breakdown of the outer bran. If you eat it regularly, like more than twice a week, or eat grains and legumes daily, then I suggest you cook it in the morning too. Just cook it all at once and save the leftovers for the cold version. I hope this helps!
Thanks Marisa. I’m off to Whole Foods so I’ll look for that yogurt. I’ve been eating that muesli or overnight oatmeal for breakfast for a couple of weeks now to see how it makes me feel. So far so good! I could totally cook it too. I cook the oatmeal in the morning, and I use steel cut oats. For some reason, I don’t cook the rolled oats I use for muesli. Go figure. Should probably just cook both 🙂
Awesome information thanks!
You’re welcome! Thanks for reading 🙂
I’ve been waiting for you to post this. Going to try your method! Thanks for keeping us healthy!
Glad you’re excited! It’s so yummy! Reminds me of farina 🙂