There’s more to porridge than meets the eye!
Updated: Mar 7
Porridge is like Marmite ..........
Love it or hate it
The other day I was out with some friends who began chatting about breakfast – you know – like you do. I mentioned that we (hubby and me) have porridge every day we love it.
Well you’d have thought I’d said I had arsenic for breakfast. One woman’s eyes widened and she gave me such a look – “I HATE porridge, it makes me feel sick! The feel in my mouth is just yuck!”
So I changed the subject, but it got me thinking.
The porridge most of us in Great Britain eat is made from oats. There are a bewildering number of different types of oats you can buy. They all start out the same:
The oat grain has its hull removed and the remaining inner kernel ‘groat’ is then cleaned and heated to a high temperature to kill off enzymes so they can be stored for a long time.
After this they can be dealt with in various ways.
Steel cut or pinhead oats – the groat is cut into two or three pieces. These oats take about 30 mins to cook and have a chewy texture. They are digested more slowly than rolled oats.
Ground oats– are stone ground to a meal to make a more creamy textured porridge.
Rolled oats – the groat is steamed so that they will take less time to cook then rolled and flattened. The flatter they are the quicker they cook. Rolled oats absorb more liquid.
Instant porridge – the oats are cooked and re-dried so cook almost instantly! Often they have preservatives and sugars added.
Once we’ve chosen which one to buy we either boil it with milk or water. But within that there are so many different ways of preparing and serving.
Growing up, porridge in our family was made with full cream milk, but we used to save the cream off the top to pour over the porridge. We used to like it thick but not stodgy. On top we would sprinkle soft brown sugar and then add the cream – something I wouldn’t dream of doing now.
Porridge isn’t necessarily made with oats.
Traditionally porridge consists of boiling ground, crushed or chopped starchy plants – typically grains in water or milk.
Often flavourings are added sugar, syrup, honey or salt, spices or vegetables.
Most countries have their own version of porridge.
Germany – maize
America – grits (a specially treated and course ground dried corn)
Italy – polenta
China – millet
Japan and China – rice
Norway – potato
Denmark and Finland – Rye
Nigeria – yam
Russia and Ukraine – buckwheat
The Romans and medieval Britain used wheat to make frumenty
Other grains we can use to make porridge are spelt, quinoa and barley.
And of course there is the old pease porridge that was so loved during the Victorian age, made from dried peas.
Multi grain porridge
Having realised that you can make porridge from any type of grain I decided to experiment with different recipe mixes.
In health food shops and some supermarkets you can buy different flaked/rolled grains. So you can make up any mix you like.
It is well known that oats are a good source of fibre, help regulate digestion and help lower cholesterol. So I kept them as the main ingredient in my mix.
I love barley in stews and as it turns out flaked in porridge.
I include flaked rye and spelt.
Into the grain mix I stir dried fruit – raisins, cranberries and chopped dried dates, apricots a different mix every time I make it.
Here is the recipe. I find it both creamy and chewy at the same time. It is filling – and seems to keep hunger away for longer than pure oat porridge.
My Mixed Grain Porridge
120g barley flakes
100g spelt flakes
120g rye flakes
2-3 tbs raisins
2-3tbs pitted chopped dates
2-3tbs chopped apricots
Other dried fruits such as sultanas, cranberries etc. can be used – it is down to individual preference.
Also if desired you can add flaked almonds or some chopped nuts.
Mix all ingredients together in a large sealable container.
1 Place the number of servings you’d like into a small casserole dish, or for one serving into a breakfast bowl.
2 Pour on enough milk to cover the porridge mix completely and cover
3 Leave to soak for at least half an hour – over night is a good idea if you are in a hurry in the mornings and it makes it creamier.
4 Either place in a saucepan and bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 mins or place in the microwave for approx 3/4 mins depending on the number of servings and the wattage of your microwave.
Remember you can use as much or as little fluid as you like and change the ratio/type of grains/dried fruits you use.
I personally don’t like the flavour of buckwheat so never use it. I also find wheat doesn’t agree with my digestion but you may love them in your mix.
There are so many different ways to do this – just think of the number of different ‘milks’ that can be used. I use unsweetened almond milk drink for mine.
It will be fascinating to see how many different variations of porridge we can come up with.
I hope you try either my recipe or one of your own. Do let me know how you get on.