Don’t get us wrong, we’re all for mixing up our breakfast routine. We experiment with healthy pancakes or gluten free waffles and choc dipped fruit on the weekend, we make overnight chia puddings midweek and we’re always on for eggs. But it seems, no matter how adventurous we are in the AM, we always come back to oats.
Oats are naturally nutritious, filling and will keep you satisfied for a while. But according to Holly Davis, fermentation expert and author of ferment, there’s yet another reason to love the traditional staple: for their gut-loving goodness.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, oats aren’t typically known for their benefits to the gut (*cough* gluten). But by activating the oats—which we know can reduce gluten and aid digestion—Davis harnesses the good bacteria to create a morning meal that’ll nourish the microbiome. Plus, she admits, it turns the porridge extra creamy.
Take the time to soak the grains for this porridge before cooking and you will be rewarded with the most luscious, creamy breakfast imaginable … Whole oats (groats) have a fabulous chewy texture and burst with creamy goodness. The rye adds an element of nuttiness and their addition makes for a more interesting and nutritious porridge. A few soaked nuts and seeds and a small spoonful of a cultured topping, be it butter, ripe dairy kefir or any cultured cream will aid digestion and add deliciousness,” writes Holly Davis.
It’s no wonder we’ve been doing it for centuries. “In Scotland and Ireland, where oats are a staple grain, many a kitchen dresser would have had two drawers dedicated to oats: one filled with whole oats, the other lined with tin and filled with the family’s supply of cooked porridge, which would be portioned out and reheated as needed. Cook once and eat twice, it seems, is not an entirely new concept.”
50 g (13⁄4 oz/1⁄2 cup) rolled oats
50 g (13⁄4 oz/1⁄4 cup) whole or rolled rye, optional
100 g (31⁄2 oz/1⁄2 cup) whole oats (groats)
875 ml (291⁄2 fl oz/31⁄2 cups) filtered water, plus extra if needed
2 pinches sea salt
milk, as required
Prep: Activate. The evening before you plan to make the porridge, combine the rolled oats, rye and whole oats in a saucepan, and cover with the filtered water. Stir and cover with a lid. Leave on the kitchen bench overnight.
The next day, add the salt to the soaked grains, put over medium–low heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
Stir well using a spurtle (see below), or wooden spoon, cook for 30–40 minutes over very low heat, until the oats are soft and creamy.
Add extra water or milk as required, just enough to form a stirrable consistency.
Ladle into warm bowls with your choice of toppings.
+ Tips and tricks… Any leftovers can be blended with toasted nuts, dried fruit, and nut or dairy milk, to add to a smoothie or use as an alternative to cream. + Notes from the chef… A spurtle is a traditional wooden instrument made for stirring porridge. It has a turned end and does the job perfectly. Because it has little surface area, it is very easy to wash up. Mine was a gift I treasure. + Any scorched (not burnt) grains can be rescued by simply covering the pot with a lid and sitting it in cold water for 10 minutes. Remove the pot and taste the surface grains; if they don’t taste burnt, you can scoop the top layer into a new pot and continue to cook them. Recipe and image from Ferment by Holly Davis (Murdoch Books RRP $45).