Following on from recent posts on my Larder, in this post I’m going to tell you how to store your oats properly.
“How long can I store Porridge oats for?” is a question that I’m frequently asked. Its a important question because correct storage of oats isn’t just about prolonging shelf life its also about protecting their flavour.
I have read a lot of customs on storage oats and even how oats have been used to store and protect other foods like hams. However I wanted the facts! so I went to the man who knows; Derek Croucher, Technical Director of Morning Foods Ltd who amongst other things produce all of the wonderful Mornflake oats & Cereals.
Derek explained to me that all ‘mainstream’ oats that are milled and marketed these days are “stabilised” to destroy the lipase enzymes that would historically have made the oats go rancid very quickly (oats have a relatively high overall fat content for a cereal grain and are therefore more prone to rancidity). The stabilisation process basically heats the oats up before milling (traditionally this is done in a kilning process, or on a kilning floor) – it is the heat that destroys the enzymes. As long as this process is done properly then oats can quite happily be stored in suitable conditions for several years.
Derek also highlighted three key reasons why oats should be stored in a cool, dry, airtight container out of direct sunlight;
1 – Oats will readily pick up moisture, and mould will result very quickly.
2 – Oats are highly susceptible to insect infestation.
3 – Oats (because of the high fat content and large flake surface area) readily pick up taints like soap powder, spices etc.
I use a range of storage jars to keep my oats airtight, from a set of kilner jars which I take to cooking demos, to my lovely Mornflake ceramic jar made in the Staffordshire Potteries.
Whether in a plastic box, glass jar or clipped air tight in the packet you bought them in, always keep your oats sealed for the best Porridge flavour.