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How to Prevent Oatmeal from Sticking to the Pot

What makes oatmeal stick?

What makes oatmeal sticky? A combination of heat and the lack of water, along with the creation of too much free starch in the water.

How to stop sticking oatmeal in the pot

Remember, in the end you want grains that are hot, fully hydrated, and not broken into small pieces. How do you keep oatmeal from sticking and still get your grains like that? A few things - all of which are related to heat, water and free starch in the water.

Keep the heat low. High heat will reduce the water content in the pot, but the oatmeal/water slurry will not pass the heat evenly towards the surface. The result: the oatmeal slurry at the bottom loses water content, sticks and burns, and you will want to mix the pot and disturb the grains, making more starch, and more stickyness. Solution: Add the oatmeal to boiling water, and reduce immediately to very low heat or flame. Slow cooking adds more time, but makes better oatmeal.

Boil water before adding rolled oats. Adding raw oatmeal to cold water increases the time water absorbs into the oatmeal, increasing the development of starches. This leads to a starchy slurry, and a tendency to stick, then burn. Solution: boil the water first, then add the oatmeal, reducing the stovetop to very low immediatley. I believe heat seals the outside of each grain, as the starches there expand, and this slows the absorption of moisture into the grain.

Hint: The first time you follow the guidelines on this web page, stand over the pot and watch the changing character of the slurry. Keep a watch handy, and pay attention to the changes over time.

Don't overmix the oatmeal. Stirring oatmeal breaks down the oats, and encourages the formation of free starches in the water. This makes the mixture thicker, and increases the chances of high temperature at the pot's bottom. A feedback loop ensues - you feel like mixing to keep from sticking. Solution: Low heat, minimized mixing.

Pay attention to the water content. The easiest way to start this is to use a ratio of 2:1, water to oats. But, thereafter you must not mix. After a few minutes, as the free water content drops, the oatmeal slurry will begin to thicken. The trick is leave the slurry alone, avoiding overmixing the slurry, till the bottom just begins to get tacky, and concurrently you have hydrated and heated grains.

More detail about oats and oatmeal

Click for more information on cooking oatmeal, or click here: for more information about oats and oatmeal, generally.

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