As the story goes, I spit oatmeal at my grandmother when she was feeding me. Of course, I was too young to remember. But I can say I’ve never eaten oatmeal and enjoyed it, since. Perhaps I need to try fermented oatmeal. I would try it with craisins or apples and cinnamon.
It’s not hard to believe that our ancestors, without access to the mechanization of the modern age, processed their grains differently than we do today. I don’t just mean with different equipment, clearly, they had the equipment of their time, but an altogether different process that resulted in a very different food. Prior to modern milling to remove the husks on grains, grains were moistened and then dried before being pounded to remove the hulls. This wetting process caused some of the starches to be converted to sugars and resulted in a sweeter more digestible grain.
Currently, we take our milled oats and pour them into boiling water to quick cook them for a hot satisfying breakfast. This wasn’t always the case, however. Raw grains are not as digestible as sprouted or fermented grains, where enzymes and bacteria have helped break them down before consumption. Our ancestors were keen on getting every last bit out of their resources and began a “sour soup” to ferment their grains the night before. The sour soup contained some form of grain along with whatever fruit or vegetable, fresh or dried, was available and appealing at the time.
While just about any grain can be used, along with fruits or vegetables of your choosing, the recipe presented here to get you started is for a simple Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal.
How to Make Fermented Oatmeal
A Fermented Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Recipe
• 1 Cup steel-cut oats
• ¼ Cup raisins
• 6 Cups water
• ½ tsp cinnamon, ground
• Pinch of salt
- Soak one cup steel cut oats and ¼ cup raisins in 3 cups water for 12-24 hours. Cover loosely with a towel to keep out dust and flies. Most of the water will be absorbed by the oats and raisins, and that which is left should have a few bubbles or foam in spots to indicate the beginnings of fermentation.
- Bring the remaining 3 cups of water, cinnamon and a pinch of salt to a boil and add the soaked oats and raisins, along with any remaining soaking water.
- Cook over low heat, until the remaining water is absorbed and the oats reach the desired consistency, about 10 minutes. Keep the heat low, as the fermented soaked oats will form a sticky oatmeal, and it has a tendency to stick and burn.
The resulting oatmeal should be creamy and sweet, without the need to add additional butter, sugar, milk, or cream but feel free to season as you choose. If you do choose to sweeten your oatmeal, maple adds trace minerals and more flavor, and a little goes a long way.
This recipe also works well with other dried fruits, including tart cherries, cranberries or currants. Try topping with chopped nuts, or stirring in a tablespoon of almond butter to increase the protein content and help your breakfast stick with you longer throughout the day.
Katz, Sandor Ellix. Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition and Craft of Live Culture Foods.. White River Junction: Chelsea Green Printing, 2002.
Meyer-Renschhausen, Elisabeth. “The Porridge Debate: Grain, Nutrition, and Forgotten Food Preparation Techniques.” Food and Foodways. 5.1 (1991) : 95-120.
“The Wonders of Porridge.” Viking Good Guy. http://vikingfoodguy.com/wordpress/2011/05/03/the-wonders-of-porridge/
Did you get what Ashley said? That you can ferment other grains besides oats? I’m thinking corn grits with tomatoes and chili peppers sounds pretty good right now. And I know that if I need any more recipes, I just need to check out the Fermentools blog.
Ashley is an off grid homesteader in central Vermont. She is passionate about fermentation, charcuterie and foraging. Read more about her adventures at PracticalSelfReliance.com.