Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Monday Mission: Soak Your Oatmeal

November 30th, 2009 · 147 Comments · Upgraded Nutrition

Simple things.  What can I do that is simple and will increase my nutrition?

I’m often asked that question, and the folks who ask it don’t know that it’s the question I ask myself all the time.  When I read about soaking grains for the first time, I was pleased to find out that it’s really a fairly simple process.  It takes some planning ahead, but if you’re already menu planning, adding the soaking step is a cinch.

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to soak your oatmeal for breakfast sometime this week.

Impact Ratings: healthpositive moneyhalf-pos

Level of Commitment: Baby Steps

Why Would I want Soaked Grains?

Here’s a short science lesson to help you understand why you might want to “soak” your grains:

  • Grains are seeds.
  • Seeds are meant to pass through the system relatively undigested so they can be planted elsewhere (think in nature).
  • To make it possible for seeds to pass through undigested, there are some anti-nutrients built in to make them difficult to digest.
  • Seeds also need to be preserved until the time is right for sprouting, so they have certain compounds that stop the active enzyme activity of germination.
  • These compounds also serve to hinder active enzyme activity in your digestive system.
  • “Soaking” whole grains can make them more digestible and help your system obtain all the nutrients in the food.

Read the science behind the process at Soaking Whole Grains.

This process is recommended by Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions, but you won’t find it many other places.  I’m not 100% convinced that it’s the only way to go, and neither is Laura.

That being said, soaking your oatmeal is not difficult, doesn’t take any more time than not soaking it, can’t hurt you, and definitely changes your digestion.  My mom is not the only one who notices a difference when her oatmeal is soaked.  She has told me she’s certain she feels fuller when it’s soaked, and her digestion seems more ‘regular’ based on the end result.

My oatmeal soaking for tomorrow morning

My oatmeal soaking for tomorrow morning

How to Soak Oatmeal
  • Combine 1 cup rolled or steel cut oats with 1 cup water with 1 Tbs lemon juice or whey in it.  I do it right in the pot.
  • UPDATE:  Straight from the mouth of Sally Fallon, the water should be warmer than room temp at the start. You’d need to gently warm it in a teapot or in the pot to ~110 degrees or so, since it’s not recommended to consume warm tap water because of lead leaching issues.  {Sigh.  That makes this process just slightly more complicated.}
  • UPDATE:  Megan reminded me that oats are low in the enzyme phytase, needed to neutralize the phytates.  She found the information at Amanda Rose’s outdated free eCourse, now the Phytic Acid White Paper. So add a Tbs or two (10%) of wheat flour to your oats, too.
  • Leave at room temperature 24 hours (or at least 12).  I usually think of it the night before, but the best for oatmeal is to let it go 24 hours.  Tip: Just get oats soaking for tomorrow’s breakfast as you’re cleaning up today’s, as breakfast will be on your mind.
  • Add another cup of water in the morning, bring to a boil and cook a few minutes until thick.

Couldn’t be easier!  Here is how to get whey easily.

timesaverTimesaver:  Buy lemons on sale and freeze juice in 1 Tbs portions in ice cube trays or popsicle molds.  Store in a freezer bag.

Another favorite way to have soaked oatmeal in our house, although it takes a bit more time, is Kelly’s Baked Oatmeal.  Because the chopping of fruit takes some time, I like to soak the oatmeal two nights before I want to eat it for 24 hours, then prepare the entire dish the night before and store it in the fridge until morning, when I put it in a cold oven and add 10-15 minutes to the bake time.  (It tastes like oatmeal raising cookies, I kid you not.)

Will you try it? Do share if you notice a difference in digestion/satisfaction!

Don’t miss your chance to “green up” your cleaners by winning FOUR different ones from Biokleen here.

Here’s a weird example of how unorganized I am – a few days after I posted my Biokleen review, I found my super-well-written, hilarious post introduction on a piece of paper.  Poo poo me.  If you want to read it, I’m too proud to throw writing away so I tacked it on the Biokleen review.


I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for an email subscription or grab my reader feed. You can also follow me on Twitter.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Tags: ·

147 Comments so far ↓

  • Betsy

    The good news is that I soaked my oatmeal last night. The bad news is that I forgot the whey!

    I use steel-cut oats, and a side benefit is that they cook in 10-15 minutes instead of 30+. Really helps in the morning when I’m rushed. Although I was so far behind this morning anyway that I threw them in a thermos after cooking and ate them at work.

    AmandsonMaui Reply:

    Did you cook it?

  • Megan

    Hi Katie,
    I wonder if you’ve heard that oats need to be soaked with wheat. Because oats are low in the phytase enzyme, they are unable to break down the phytic acid that is responsible for binding to the nutrients. However, wheat is rich in the phytase enzyme, so if about 1 T of freshly ground wheat berries or wheat flour is added, it helps enormously with the process. If you haven’t heard of this, you can read more about it at this site, which offers a free “Phytic Acid E-Course”

    Just wondering what your thoughts were!

    Katie Reply:

    You’re right! I read that once at Cheeseslave and started adding whole wheat flour to my baked oatmeal, but I am too lazy to add that extra step for my regular oatmeal. Terrible, I know. I updated the post and credited you! Thanks!! :) Katie

    Krystal Wight Armstrong Reply:

    So, I have all-natural, stone ground, GMO free, whole wheat flour in my pantry, but it’s not soaked or freshly ground. I don’t have whey or anything else mentioned here…would a Tbs of this stuff still do what you’re talking about?

    From the advice at another source I’m soaking my rolled oats for the first time right now, with lemon and warm water, and got online to find more info. Your post was at the top of Google! So I’m just now learning about the phytase issue, and started my first soak a few minutes ago (glad I found this).

    Since I’m here, I did have a couple other questions.
    -I want to keep my soak covered overnight, is airflow important? Could I use a clingwrap over the bowl, or should I just lay a tea-towel over?
    -What about storage? I’m making enough to last a week of breakfasts. Do I drain it and just stick it in the fridge when it’s done (how long can that last)? Can it be frozen? Should it be dehydrated somehow?

    Thank you so much for any help & info you can share!

    Krystal Wight Armstrong Reply:

    I started my first soak, of warm water, lemon juice, and rolled oats. 24 hours would have been late last night, and now it’s mid-day the next day…because things got crazy yesterday and I forgot about it.
    The bowl was left at room temp with a tea towel over them, and now they smell kinda bad, and when I tried to drain it off and got my hands wet, they also got really slimy. The oast don’t *look* bad and maybe this smell is the beneficial ‘fermented tang’, from leaving them out for a day and a half.
    Can you help me understand if they were out too long (I made a 4.5 cup batch). Or what I’m supposed to do with them now? Do I rinse, drain and store in the fridge? Do they need to be dried/dehydrated somehow? Or do I need to throw it out, because they smell sour and I took too long?

    Thank you for the help!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I hope I’m catching you in time to do any good – sounds like your oats did go a little long, which may or may not be okay. You’ll learn the “smells a little fermented” vs. “smells scary!” difference over time. I never drain my oats, actually, or rinse them. They will be quite a bit slimy even after 12 hours, so that’s normal. My “quick fix” when I get distracted and leave something soaking too long is to just refrigerate the whole thing – bowl, pot, whatever – until I cook them. Your oatmeal will probably be pretty sour and even if it’s fine to eat safety-wise, I doubt it will be a very nice “first soaking” experience!! So you could possibly dehydrate, but again – that’s a lot of work for 4.5 cups. ??? If you have a bread recipe with leftover oatmeal, that might be your best bet at this point – cook and reinvent! ;) Katie

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sorry I missed this for a day or two – for future soaks, your stone ground flour is going to be fine. It won’t have as much active phytase as freshly ground but I’d still use it (you should store it in the freezer though). Whey is super easy to get if you have plain yogurt around, and it’s so much better than lemon juice (not as sour). I just soak right in my pot and put a lid on it – airflow isn’t important here so do whatever is easiest. For bulk cooking, I’d cook it all up and store the leftover cooked oatmeal, then just heat that with a bit more water. For my family, I make a two-day batch and just leave the leftovers in the pot on the counter, then reheat the next day. For longer than a day (or in the heat of summer) you’d want to refrig. A week will be just fine for leftovers in the fridge! Hope that helps! :) Katie

    Katie Reply:

    Thank you again. I have Amanda’s e-course, but I’m still trying to sort through he-said/she-said between PhDs! :) Katie

    Dawn Reply:

    I’m just wondering if there’s something besides wheat flour that would work instead. We are gluten intolerant at our home.

    ChrisJ Reply:

    Using rye flour is actually a better method. I do this all the time. Rye is higher in phytase (the enzyme that breaks down phytic acid) than wheat, a lot higher in fact.

    Using 2 tablespoons of rye flour you could even skip the whey if you wanted.

    Of course, if you really want to get all that phytic acid down you want to at least partially ferment. If you have a sour dough starter (usually of rye or a rye-wheat mix because of phytase) add 2 tablespoons of that to your soaking, no whey, lemon or other flour. You get the most bang for your buck soaking wise. The lactobacilli in sour dough starters not only let the grains sprout some but also break down the phytic acid actively, not just passively as in regular soaking (whey can do this somewhat, but far, far less effectively.

    Good luck soakers!

    DanaMinby Reply:

    Unfortunately gluten-intolerant folks can’t have rye either. And I can’t have whey product. So I’m out in both these. I’d have to stick to just water & lemon juice

    Christine Reply:

    You can use buckwheat groats!

    Maggie Reply:

    I soak my oats every night in my own almond milk adding 1 tablespoon of flax seeds and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. However, I wanted to improve it having read the information about phytase. I try not to eat wheat at all but as I bake my own sour dough bread regularly I always have a starter. Last night I added 1 tbsp of my rye starter to my oat mixture. I ate it this morning but I need to admit that it was quite an unpleasant experience… I found it much too sour. I don’t add any sweetener to my oats and only add my own granola on top which has a bit of honey in it. I would like to continue as it’s so good for me but do you have any suggestions as how to make it more likeable? I added 1tbsp of starter to my 1/2 cup of oats, flax seeds and chia. Was it too much?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Buckwheat is a phytase-including non-gluten grain and works great. :) Katie

  • Kathryn

    I’d heard that any acidic substance would work (sour milk, butter milk, vinegar, lemon juice). I do soak when i remember, but it has not become a habit yet. Made some recently that i did soak, & before the sweetener it had a bit of bite from the vinegar. But after sweetening it wasn’t noticable.
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..Post Thanksgiving =-.

    Katie Reply:

    You’re right, but in the experience of most people I’ve heard/known/read about, whey or lemon juice gives the least “sour” taste. Adding more sweetener to cover up the bite isn’t what I’m shooting for, so I go for the most “like oatmeal” taste.

  • Brittany

    I totally notice a difference in how the oatmeal digests when I soak vs. no soaking. If we forget to soak it, I’m hungry in a few hours, but soaked I can easily last until lunch without any snacks.

    Also, it takes less time to cook when I soak it. Once you get the water boiling (5 min or so), it only takes another 5 minutes to cook. A little longer than cereal, maybe, but Dh and I usually cook it while we’re doing other things in the mornings. And the topping possibilities are endless!!

    Katie Reply:


    Yes yes yes to everything you said! I love how fast the oatmeal cooks when soaked. Thanks for the tips! Katie

  • christina

    Ok, you got me to do it! And I love it. I find it much easier to eat. I used to only be able to stomach so much oatmeal before I felt bloated. Now, I notice that I don’t get that reaction at all and enjoy my oatmeal more.

    My daughter has severe gluten reactions. We buy her gluten free oats because she’ll get sick just from the contamination with regular oats that have been run through a processing plant shared with wheat. So I don’t add the wheat.

    I found a great way to have whey on hand all the time is just to leave a “dip” of yogurt in the yogurt container. About a Tbsp or two of whey is there all the time now whenever I want it.
    .-= christina´s last blog ..My Dad’s Favorite Applesauce Cake – Now Gluten Free =-.

  • Desi

    How would you make up the wheat if you are gf? We are as well and would need to know how to do this. Thank you!

    Katie Reply:

    Buckwheat is gluten free and has the phytase you need for soaking. It works great! :) Katie

    AmandaonMaui Reply:

    Oh, the answer I was looking for is already here. Please ignore the other and feel free to delete it.
    .-= AmandaonMaui´s last blog ..Burgers…nom…Nom…NOM! =-.

    Kate Reply:

    Is there anything besides buckwheat that will work? We are gf and buckwheat free too!

    Katie Reply:

    You know, I don’t know of any grain with phytase that would fit you, but some new info has come out that maybe just soaking in warm water does the trick. Go figure. Seems like nobody knows anything anymore! I soak w/o the flour quite a bit, just b/c I’m lazy. I really think oats, water and whey will do good things for your digestion. :) Katie

    glenda Reply:

    Please share :) What new info suggests that warm water does the trick? I love to read all the different perspectives, etc.

    Love your website, by the way!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Here’s the source:

  • AmandaonMaui

    What about for gluten free people?
    .-= AmandaonMaui´s last blog ..Burgers…nom…Nom…NOM! =-.

  • AmandaonMaui

    What do you mean by a “dip” of yogurt?
    .-= AmandaonMaui´s last blog ..Burgers…nom…Nom…NOM! =-.

  • dawn

    Just wondering, can I use water kefir instead of vinegar for soaking? I don’t do dairy kefir, we drink raw milk and there’s no way my budget could stand kefiring raw milk…and then there’s just the I-just-can’t-drink-that-all-the-time factor too. I like it occasionally, but not every day! Too thick, rich and sour for our tastes here.

    I’m kind of thinking I can, but wondering if it’s possible. Thanks!
    .-= dawn´s last blog ..Soleil 100 Days =-.

    Katie Reply:

    I would guess “yes”, but I’ve never seen research on that one. Maybe I’ll check my water kefir with a pH strip and see what it says! That’s all you really need, slight acidity. My preference is whey because I can’t taste the “sour” so much, and we make yogurt regularly anyway.
    Good question! :) Katie

    Tabitha Teeter Reply:

    Dairy kefir works great for ranch, cheese, smoothies, and as a sourdough starter or starter substitute. Amongst those uses I can get it in me and the family about 3x/week. My dog only gets it a couple times now that I learned the sourdough trick from Cultures for Health.

    I killed my water kefir grains when we moved and am trying the conversion from kefir grains.

    Back on topic though, I’m going to try buckwheat and lemon. Thanks for the info.

  • Basic Granola | HAPPY VITTLES

    [...] To Soak, bring level of warm filtered water up to just below top of oats.  Check out the benefits of soaking oats here. This step takes extra planning and extra work so make a BIG batch of granola to make it all worth [...]

  • Shu

    Hi! Thanks for the tips! I’ve been regularly soaking my grains according to NT instructions/ those in the NT community. I’m confused about one thing though:
    Why do we replace the soaking water for grains like rice, quinoa etc, but not for oats/whole wheat flour?

    I used to think that the phytic acid or whatever’s bad seeps out of the grain into the water, so we throw the water away…? What about nutrients seeping out of the grain then?

    So, should we throw the soaking water or not?? ):

    Please help, thanks!

    Katie Reply:

    This is a very interesting question. First, one can’t soak flour and drain it, and actually, if you soak oatmeal and drain it you lose an awful lot of oatmeal, and, I’m guessing, nutrients too. It’s always recommended to rinse, say, legumes, for flatulence reasons, but I don’t think one would HAVE to rinse rice. I pour off the water so I can save some for next time for accelerated fermentation. Quinoa should be rinsed to get the hulls off.

    All that notwithstanding, soaking the grains to reduce the antinutrients isn’t a vastly researched subject. It’s possible that phytic acid released from your grains could bind back to the minerals you’d rather have in your body if not rinsed off…but it’s also possible that it won’t. I know, confusing. You’ll really want to read about phytates, phytic acid and soaking grains and phytase in soaking grains to learn more. I’m returning to (and finishing, for real!) the soaking grains subject this fall.
    Very, very good question! (Sorry it took so long to respond; I’ve been vacationing!) :) katie

    Shu Reply:

    Thanks for your reply! I really look forward to hearing more about your research into soaking, yup thanks so much for doing this!

    Well, not sure if this helps, but my Chinese mother always soaks brown rice in just plain water in the morning before cooking it at night, no rinsing or whatever. When I told her i discard the soaking water (after saving a bit for accelerated fermentation), she said i’m throwing away the nutrients.. but she much prefers cooking white rice. I used to think white rice was unhealthy, but lookign back into my traditional culture, maybe my ancestors knew what they were doing when they removed the hull and bran..

    Mechelle Reply:

    Not sure if this helps or not, but you rinse the rice because when soaking a large portion of the starch dissolves into the water, rinsing helps remove the starch.

  • Megan

    We are dairy free because of allergies. Can I add ACV instead of whey without making it taste bad? What do others with dairy allergies do? Also, does it have to be fresh lemon juice?

    Katie Reply:

    My mom thinks that lemon juice is the least-sour tasting non-dairy option. She freezes fresh lemon juice in 1 Tbs portions in an ice cube tray, but I don’t imagine it has to be fresh. It just needs to be acidic, according to the Nourishing Traditions directions. I hope that helps! :) Katie

    heidi Reply:

    I’ve tried soaking my oatmeal for the 24 hours. I’ve done it twice and added the 1 Tbsp lemon juice (although not a fresh lemon). Nasty. I tried forcing my kids to eat it the first time without trying it myself. They complained so I tried it an it was awful. We ended up throwing it both times. All we tasted was awful lemon, and we do sweeten ours. What is wrong with us that it tasted so awful when everyone else seems to rave about this?

    Katie Reply:

    Heidi, you are totally not alone. I don’t know if many people actually rave that soaked oatmeal tastes better, although after doing it for so long, I actually found that I don’t like unsoaked anymore. My mom thought that lemon juice, from fresh, was much less tolerable than whey. I highly recommend whey, which, if you don’t overdo it, hardly tastes sour at all. You can also just try 12 hours, which would be less sour as well. Here’s how to make whey:

    Kelly has an amazing baked soaked oatmeal that does not taste sour (or even healthy) that is worth trying, just to assure yourself you can like soaked stuff: Sue, who wrote the recipe, is practically my neighbor and her daughter is my mother’s helper, so that’s pretty cool too. :)

    Good luck! And don’t despair if you don’t like it – although I think soaked is better, I don’t think regular oatmeal is going to kill you. :) Katie

    jennifer Reply:

    I mix mine with yogurt and almond milk and a little honey and raisins. It’s totally ready to eat in the morning and absolutely delicious.

    Lynn Reply:

    I’m right there with you. I just cooked up my first batch after soaking it for 24 hours with whey and wheat flour and I find it completely disgusting. I’m going to have to throw it away :(

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Aw, shucks…Sorry about that, Lynn, but there are always some bumps in the road on the way to real food. If you’re eating whole oatmeal w/o a bunch of junk, you’re doing great!! Try the soaked rolls if you have a breadmaker:

    They do NOT taste any different than regular! ;) Katie

    Lynn Reply:

    I think I’ve figured out what at least part of the problem is. I brew kombucha in my (fairly small) kitchen – and the air seems to be heavy with the wild yeast spores from my SCOBY farm. I tried doing the soak with a tablespoon of flour and some kombucha mixed in with the water (I have a theory that kombucha is also an acidic and less sour than whey or lemon) and after 24 hours the whole concoction smells like sourdough starter. I strained it through a fine mesh nylon strainer and gave it a really good rinse with filtered water and when I add cinnamon and raisins it’s really quite delicious.

    I realize that by rinsing it I’m probably washing away a fair number of nutrients – including a lot of the starch. I figure if I’m eating my oatmeal and it’s more bioavailable and easily digestible than eating it without soaking, then hey – I figure I’m ahead of the game :)

  • Shelley


    I soaked my first oats yesterday! Finally made that baby step. Will be doing more in the future now that I have the first time under my belt. My oatmeal lunch was delicious & I think you’re right that it holds you over longer.. hum.

    I had a question regarding if I wanted to use yogurt, would it be the same amount as water? per your recipe above, 1 cup oats, 1 cut yogurt?

    Thanks so much.

    Katie Reply:

    That would be really sour, likely. You can just do one cup water, 1 Tbs yogurt. Good luck! :) Katie

  • Frances

    Hmm… Can you taste the lemon? If I drained it, would that defeat the purpose of soaking?

    Katie Reply:

    My mom thinks you can taste the lemon just a teeny bit, and we both prefer whey (which you totally cannot taste). Draining would not defeat the purpose of soaking, but I wonder if some minerals wd be lost? I’m not sure…I drain brown rice, but not oats, partly because almost all the water is absorbed by morning, to tell the truth. It would be tough to get much to drain, and then you’d have to figure out how much water is “still in there” vs. how much you need to add back in. Worst that can happen is you hate breakfast, waste 25 cents and have toast instead! :) Katie

  • ali

    When you are soaking, do you keep a lid on the container or no?

    Katie Reply:

    It’s not vital to the soak process, but depends on the bug potential. In the summer, definitely. In the winter I skip it sometimes for stuff like oatmeal that won’t dry out. For doughs, I always cover just so they don’t get crusty. :) Katie

    ali Reply:

    Thank you

  • Renee

    I just bought a canister of “quick cook” Steel cut oats because they were what I thought was a really great price ($1.89/24 oz). But now I curious about a couple things:
    1)What did they do to them to make them “quick cook”? (The instructions say to add boiling water to 1/4 cup oats and simmer for 5-7 minutes.)
    2)Does this change the soaking process?
    I’ve never soaked oatmeal before, nor have I ever used steel cut oats before. We usually microwave regular oatmeal (not quick) with milk. Is there a way to include milk in the soaking and/or cooking process? My husband will be very suspect if I cook him oatmeal without any milk. :/

    Katie Reply:

    I can’t say I’ve ever heard of “quick cook” and “steel cut” together. maybe they’re parboiled like quick cooking brown rice? If so, you probably wouldn’t be able to soak because they’re already cooked partway…then again, if you added fresh wheat to act as the phytase…maybe?

    As far as including milk, I would just soak oats in a 1:1 ratio with water overnight and then add another 1 part of milk in the a.m. for the cooking. Hopefully half and half will be okay! You can’t really drain the water b/c it really gets mostly soaked up.

    Good luck! :) Katie

  • Susan Alexander

    Really DUMB question – you just leave the pot out on the counter/stove overnight? Not in the fridge, right? Told you it was a dumb question… LOL

    Katie Reply:

    No dumb questions, just busy moms, I know! Yes, at room temperature. That is key! Enjoy! :) Katie

    Susan Alexander Reply:

    Cool, thanks! Will try for Monday! :)

  • Yumm

    Dear Katie!

    Should it work with oatmeal flour too? Must we soak same time as ,,original” oatmeal? (12-24)

    Katie Reply:

    Yes, and yes! ;) Katie

  • Tammy

    Is it really OK for the whey to be left out of the fridge for 12-24 hours? I just worry about food safety! Thanks!

    Katie Reply:

    Tammy, yep, really! The yogurt I make cultures out of the fridge for 24 hours already. Cultured foods are full of probiotics, which are strong enough to fight off bad bugs that might want to settle in (why we need to consume them for our systems, too!). I have never had a problem with the food after soaking. I do understand the hesitance, though! ;) Katie

    Tammy Reply:

    Thanks Katie!!
    Silly me! I just started making my own yogurt and it sits out of the fridge for a good 12 hours too! Thanks for clearing that up for me. I love your website :)

    kirsten Reply:

    We are a gluten free dairy free house. Two questions:
    1.Can I leave it out for 12 hours with homemade almond milk in it?
    2. we have always made muesli in my family which is basically soaked oats in milk in the fridge overnight. I’m reading so much about different ways to soak, how does one measure if the soak is successful? I love the taste of our muesli and it digests well considering all the fruits (including lemon and orange) and nuts we throw in there. Does that mean I’ve found another way to soak? or does it have to be room temp. Thank you!

  • KJ

    I’m just wondering if soaking standard milled oats gives you the benefits (since it’s already been toasted) or if you need to start with raw oats?

    Katie Reply:

    If you mean rolled oats, like Quaker brand, that’s what I’m using so I hope so! I have seen some speculation that it’s still not all that great, but I’m adding wheat flour for the phytase, so the oats don’t have to be live or active. ??? Many folks notice the difference in their digestion and the way they feel with rolled oats, so it does something. Great question! :) Katie

  • Summer @ Well-rounded Hippie

    I LOVE that your posts are printable. You always have such great information I want to print some things out so I can really read it for comprehension! Thanks for such great content!

  • Kari

    Hi Katie!

    I have been soaking my oats for a while now. I use whey and warm water, but I always struggle with the idea of adding wheat flour. It just doesn’t make since to me when I think about it from a historical perspective. Would traditional cultures that ate oats have access to wheat flour and the knowledge to do add it? Also, it just doesn’t seem like God would have created oats to be dependent on a completely different grain in order to be nutritious. Maybe I’m just looking for justification because my family doesn’t like the oatmeal as well when I have added the wheat. I would love to know your thoughts on this.

    Katie Reply:

    Hmmmm. That’s a good point. Haven’t had any thoughts on that one until right now! ;)

    I never noticed a difference in taste with the flour – it only needs to be a little, 10%, but maybe I’m just not very observant.

    I feel like I’ve heard of traditional oatmeal as super long fermented (heard of porridge in the pot 9 days old?). Maybe that’s how the earlier folks got it to be better for them. Or maybe they added a bit of sourdough. I think if a culture had the knowledge to grow oats, they would have had wheat too, but I’m just guessing here.

    My mom doesn’t use the flour, and she still notices a difference in her digestion. So even though it’s recommended, I think much good can be done without it, especially if you’re using a lacto-fermented acidic medium, which I really think works better. Good question!!! :) Katie

  • Charlotte

    I plan to make granola. Would I presoak the regular oatmeal? What proportion of water to oats? Does it brown eventually? I want to add nuts before baking and fruit afterward. Is that doable?

    I just found this site.

    Katie Reply:

    I’m so sorry I’m so belated on your comment! Somehow yours got buried in others from last week and I just didn’t see it right away.

    To make soaked granola, I usually do 3 c. oats and 1 c. water overnight, then proceed as usual. Nuts and dried fruit work great! My soaked granola recipe is actually in my ebook here:

    You should be able to adapt your own using the ratio, but it will be more “clumpy” than usual. I think it’s better! Welcome – and enjoy! :) Katie

    Sarah Reply:

    I have the soaked granola bar recipe, but how do you dry the oats after soaking? It just says 4 1/2c soaked & dried oats. Also, does the 3 c oats & 1 c water that you soaked come out in the end to the 4 1/2c in the recipe?

    Thanks for your help & great ideas!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Your question is kind of on the wrong post here – this one is about cooked oatmeal. Soaking and dehydrating oats is another subject, covered here:

    So you have to do that step before even starting the granola bars. And no, 3 c. oats will only end up around 3 c. after soaking and dehydrating. Hope that helps!
    :) Katie

  • Bettina

    We tried lemon juice and whey, but we can still always taste the sourness, probably because we don’t add sugar or honey to the oatmeal, just raisins and seeds. I have given up on soaking, it just doesn’t seem to be that important to me. Yes, the phytates will steal some of the minerals from me, but what with all the other things that I eat that are not perfectly healthy? Well, I am a beginner at NT cooking and I find it helpful to concentrate on one thing at a time. Eating good-quality animal products just seems a lot more important than soaking grains to me, especially if it gets complicated.

    Katie Reply:

    You’re right to focus on what matters most! Three thoughts for you:
    1. New research is showing that soaking in just warm water (no acidic medium at all) may be just as effective.
    2. Adding virgin coconut oil and cinnamon to oatmeal helps me get the “sweet” flavor w/o the sweets.
    3. Cheese whey is quite a bit yuckier than yogurt whey, since I don’t know which you used.
    Good luck on your NT journey! :) Katie

    Bettina Reply:

    Thanks Katie,

    these are very good and interesting suggestions! We used kefir whey, probably on the sour side. Just another reason to start making yoghurt! Is it true that soaking in warm water might be enough? I only read the lengthy article by Ramien Nagel on Phytates and it seemed that oats were very hard considering removing phytates. Thanks again!

  • michelle

    I have been following your blog for about 6 months, and I love the info. You are telling me things I have never heard before. Soaking grains is new and interesting to me. Since we eat so much oat meal i’m going to ask, quick oats are out for soaking?

    Katie Reply:

    I think quick oats are already kind of cooked ??? and definitely more processed than rolled oats. But once you soak the rolled oats, they’re ready practically when the water boils, so that’s cool. Technically rolled oats are steamed anyway, so whole oat groats are the best for soaking…but I use rolled too! ;) Katie

  • Shaie

    Hi, I just came across your website and have been reading through the comments of this article. There was a question(s) about the difference between rolled oats & steel cut oats. And I remembered long ago watching a show called Good Eats on the food channel. Alton Brown is not your typical chef, but he goes into the science of food and I love learning sooo much about the food & how it reacts when making recipes.

    He did a show on oats and gives a whole lot of info. Here’s the link to part 1 on youtube: . I need to warn you though that he is a bit eccentric and there is an odd part that doesn’t seem to do anything with the episode about the Scottish making some type of food – I just skipped that part. But here’s a link to the second part of that episode about oats: . In the second part he gives good visual about the two types of fiber and how they work in our body.

    And here’s an episode (at least part of an episode) of his with more info about rolled oats:

    They are very informative & interesting. I love his shows.

    Katie Reply:

    Thank you! Alton Brown is a blast – I love learning from him! :) katie

  • Jamie

    So I have tried the soaking method using oats, lemon juice, water and wheat flour, letting it soak for 24 hours. And it definitely had a sour taste in the morning. But in all fairness I didn’t cook it prior to eating, but instead we ate it raw, which is what we have been doing for all of the warm months (just without soaking), since we hate warm oatmeal in the summer. I’m wondering if anyone has any idea if it’s okay to eat it raw after soaking for 24 hours, and if so, should it taste sour? Also, does the cooking process somehow neutralize the sour taste? Cause it all the websites I’ve seen about soaking oats, none of them talk about the oats tasting sour afterwards. (But all of them assume cooking after soaking.)


    Katie Reply:

    The sour taste depends a LOT on how much lemon juice you use (whey is MUCH much less sour in general), how warm the temps are and how long it soaks. I’ve never eaten it actually raw, but I’m pretty sure the WAPF folks would say that’s a no no. If you don’t like warm oatmeal, could you try soaked granola? It’s delicious! Similar idea, soak (in less water) and then toast in the oven or dehydrator. It stores great and is such a quick breakfast. Good luck! :) Katie

  • Slaying the Cereal Monster {& free printable recipe} | The Almaguer Six

    [...] for a soaked oatmeal pancake.  I made some adjustments (including up-ing the qty and adding flour to the soak, along with a few things) and the kids are loving them!  To make it really easy on you, I’m [...]

  • Oats in a Jar – Well-rounded Hippie version « Well-rounded Hippie

    [...] organic sugar and some ground flax seeds if was feeling really daring. I’ve even dabbled in soaked oats. While I agree with the improved benefit of reducing phytates through the soaking process, it just [...]

  • Andrea (From Seed to Stomach)

    Do you strain and rinse the soaked oats before cooking?

    Katie Reply:

    Hopefully you didn’t have oats soaking when you wrote this…

    No, you don’t drain the water at all. Just use half the needed water for the soak and add the other half in the a.m. :) Katie

    Andrea (From Seed to Stomach) Reply:

    Thank you for answering my question. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this topic and would love to know why you don’t think it’s necessary to strain and rinse and start with fresh water. Based on everything I’ve read, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to strain and rinse, but if you have a good reason why that’s not necessary, I’d love to know!

    Katie Reply:

    It’s a great question, but tricky.

    first, with oatmeal, you can’t really drain. Most of the liquid gets absorbed. Second, when you soak a flour recipe, you can’t obviously drain. If I soak whole grains, unbroken, I do drain…but then some say that an unbroken grain won’t be affected by soaking anyway. And then there’s nutrients – some say that if you drain the water, you’re losing some of the nutrients in there…so there’s no easy solution to this one other than doing what’s possible or just throwing your hands up in the air and eating a piece of white bread. ;) Katie

  • Lisa

    I found the non-dairy acidic option unpalatable. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no access to raw milk or cream products so ‘real’ whey, yogurt, kefir and buttermilk are not options. Just how bad do you think a store-bought buttermilk or yogurt product would be when used in such a small amount?

    Katie Reply:

    I buy store yogurt sometimes, and my homemade yogurt is most often made from store milk, so yes! you bet – use store cultured dairy. Or even make your own yogurt so you can culture it longer, if that’s important to you (gets rid of most of the lactose at 24 hours incubation).

    :) Katie

  • The Mother, The Madness, and The Mission « Feed Them Real Food

    [...] 3. Try a soaked grain recipe once a week. (See more on soaked grains from Kitchen Stewardship) [...]

  • Living Naturally: If I can’t afford organic, where do I start? « raising vintage kids in a modern world

    [...] your vegetable at dinner (this is one the kids will LOVE!), if you think about it the night before, soak your oatmeal, swap out pudding cups for cultured yogurt, start buying whole milk instead of skim (and feel good [...]

  • Jeannie

    I stumbled across this post and have a question about quantity. If I am making oatmeal for 6-8 people would I add more whey/lemon juice to the water and oats? I don’t want to make them too sour and so i hesitate adding more than what is indicated.
    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

    Kenedi - Real Food Whole Life Reply:


    1 Tablespoon of acid medium is usually recommended for every 1 cup of of oats/1 cup water. So, if making 6 cups of oats, you’d probably want 6 Tablespoons of the whey or lemon.

  • Catherine

    We like to make oatmeal with milk, not water. Can I soak it in milk?

    Kenedi - Real Food Whole Life Reply:


    To see benefits from soaking, you need to use an acid medium. Yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, or whey if you want to use dairy. Non dairy options would be yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, and whey.

    Plain milk could be added after the 12-24 hour soaking period, though, if you enjoy that with your final product.

    Katie Reply:

    Catherin, Kenedi is mostly right, but I don’t see why you couldn’t soak in milk w/the Tbs whey or yogurt overnight. Or, soak in water with a 1:1 ratio of oats and then the equivalent milk in the morning. :) Katie

  • Zoe

    1 cup of oatmeal?? That’s an awfully big portion for 1 person. My packet recommends 1/3 cup and I actually use 1/4 cup as I also add some banana after cooking.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    So sorry it took me so long to respond…I got absolutely behind on comments when I released the second edition of the snacks book and truly have never caught up.

    But just cut the recipe in 1/2 or by 1/3. Or make the whole thing and have leftovers. If you’re using a packet of instant oatmeal anyway, you’ll want to find rolled oats, not instant. :) Katie

  • Quora

    Day 9……

    Day 9 Survived Week 1! One of the hardest parts was the first few days–I ate way too much salad for lunch on the first day, and paired with caffeine withdrawal wasn’t a good mix. It took about three days to get over the caffeine dependence, but after…

  • Maureen Armendariz

    In the book Wild Fermentation, the author suggests soaking oatmeal in a jar 24 hours with plain water. That is what I do, though I use steel cut oats and it rarely gets the FULL 24 hour soak.

    I make my steel cut oats in a jimmy-rigged double boiler in my crock pot overnight so dh can grab some on his way out the door at 6 am.

    We are dairy-free and never liked the sourness using ACV or lemon juice, even when I soaked only 12 hours and used less of them. So reading that even a water soak helps was SO FREEING! Dh finds he doesn’t get hungry for a morning snack when he eats these crock-pot oats and the kids eat them way better than nomnm-soaked or rolled oats.

    Thanks for your thorough post!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I didn’t realize Wild Fermentation had that “water-only” rec as well – I had seen it recently, but it seemed so isolated…although I agree, it’s sort of freeing! I wish my husband liked steel cut oats… :) Katie

    CC Reply:

    Please clear something up for me re: soaking oats (or any other grain). I read that the water that you soak oats in should be discarded before cooking, to remove the phytates/phytites, otherwise you are consuming them with the oatmeal. Is this true? Can someone shed some light on this. Thanks so much.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    A common question, and one that doesn’t have a definite answer. You may be right…BUT there are plenty of instances, soaking flour for example, when discarding the water is impossible. So hopefully it’s ok to leave it in! It’s impossible to discard with oats b/c it’s pretty much all soaked up, anyway. :) Katie

    CC Reply:

    Please clear something up for me re: soaking oats (or any other grain). I read that the water that you soak oats in should be discarded before cooking, to remove the phytates/phytites, otherwise you are consuming them with the oatmeal. Is this true? Can someone shed some light on this. Thanks so much.

  • Kristina (The Greening of Westford)

    I tried this last night. The oatmeal was soooo unbelievably sour I couldn’t eat it. I used whey and added cinnamon and honey, but no go. What did I do wrong? the whey was fresh -I had just made some yogurt the day before. help…..

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Hmmm, usually whey really is mild. A few troubleshooting ideas:
    * amount of whey – only 1 Tbs. per cup water, then adding double the water in the morning – so for 3 cups oats, for example, there’s only 3 Tbs whey and 6 c. water in the end.
    * temperature – is it hot where you are? That can make a HUGE difference, or if you let it rest on the stove and were baking…
    * time – how long did it soak? More than 12-24 hours starts to get sour, too.

    I hop if you try it again, that the experience is better! I’m probably too late for this piece of advice, but you can use the soured oatmeal in baking bread – add a cup to your next batch of dough in place of flour and reduce the liquid a bit. Fluffy bread!

    :) Katie

  • Recipe: Soaked oatmeal two ways (gluten-free) « simplelife:food

    [...] NYTimes and I’ve blogged about it here before. But a couple of months ago I ran across an article on soaking oatmeal to improve the nutrition of your whole grains. We’ve been doing it ever since and have found [...]

  • Why You Should Eat Oatmeal and Oatmeal Lingo Defined « Don't Waste the Crumbs!

    [...] preparing breakfast doesn’t have to take all morning and this is especially true with oatmeal.  Soaked oatmeal can be ready in ten minutes.  My tried and true method is to cook old fashioned oats in the [...]

  • Michaela

    Can you use lime juice instead of lemon when soaking oatmeal?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I don’t think it would be a problem as far as acidity, but you might get a bit of a limey taste. ??? Katie

  • Soaked Oatmeal Smoothie | OAMC from Once A Month Mom

    [...] soften it up, but it also begins to break down parts of the grain that can be difficult to digest (Kitchen Stewardship has more information on the science behind this). Yet another benefit, all of the variations of [...]

  • teancum144

    I’ve been soaking my oats as follows:

    Before I go to bed:
    1) Roll 3/4 cup of oat groats (using kitchen-aid flaker attachment)
    2) Add two tablespoons whole wheat flour (ground in advance in a Nutrimill)
    3) Add Dungeness Valley Creamery whole raw milk until soupy
    4) Mix well and store covered in the fridge

    1) Take out of fridge and let set for an hour or two (so it isn’t so cold).
    2) Eat raw (soaking makes it soft as if it were cooked).

    I prefer not to use any water because milk makes the oats taste so much better. Here are my questions:
    1) By soaking in the fridge, do I lose the benefit of phytic acid break down?
    2) If the answer to #1 is yes, can I soak the oats overnight on the counter without risking food poisoning?
    3) If the answer to #2 is no, can I add a tablespoon of whole wheat sourdough starter to the mix to prevent bad bacteria from growing?

    I really want to find a way of doing this with only milk (no water). Any suggestions are welcome.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    These “overnight oats” are pretty popular, and it always strikes my funny bone that they’re so close to traditional soaking and yet miss the mark…

    1. Fridge doesn’t cut it.
    2. In yogurt or raw milk, you’re all good on the counter.
    3. Sourdough is also fine, but not totally necessary…

    But…you also are supposed to cook the oats to finish the job. That said, I soak and dehydrate oats for granola and just hope for the best! So it’s your call…if you never get a heavy feeling after eating it, that’s a step in the right direction. As for minerals, make sure the rest of your diet is excellent…

    Hope this helps! :) Katie

  • tesh

    hi! been lurking around your blog for sometime, many of my bookmarks are from here! 1 qn here, is it okay that i have the soaked oatmeal with milk uncooked? cause thats how i usually eat it, throw oatmeal and milk into a container and it becomes lunch at school! so was wondering if the soaked version can be done that way too. thanks in advance,love your blog!!!

    tesh Reply:

    okay i just saw your above reply that it needs to be cooked to finish the job. i think i’ll cook half the batch and mix it with the raw batch as i like the texture of raw soaked oats. at least i’ll get half the benefits!!

  • Friday 5: More Easy Transition Foods | More Than Four Walls

    [...] Oatmeal is a filling grain that also provides much needed fiber to keep hunger at bay and your blood sugar constant.  Here again, oats can be soaked overnight to reduce the phytic acid. Phytic acid reduces the amount of nutrients your gut will absorb such as magnesium  iron and zinc, from the grain.  Here’s some additional info on soaking oatmeal and other things.  [...]

  • Paleo Diet Results - a Review of Weight LostFrom Cube to Farm

    [...] boxed coconut milk “beverage,” Rice Chex and granola bars.  We are going to still have soaked oatmeal once a week and gluten-free pizza (using Bob’s Red Mill Rice Flour Mixes).  And there is no [...]

  • Kristine

    Does anyone know if soaking grains causes the glycemic index to change? I googled it but didn’t find any info. Thanks!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    I doubt it, but I’m pretty sure sprouting does because it reduces the starch. :) Katie

  • Cassey

    Do you let it sit out uncovered all that time, cover loosely or with a towel, or cover more tightly like with the pot’s lid?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    With oatmeal, it depends if my pot lid is clean… ;)

    Typically tightly covered is just fine. :) Katie

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.