Why on earth would one bother to soak and dry steel cut oats?
Oats, like most grains, contain phytic acid which can inhibit the absorption of the minerals contained in the grains--bummer. If I'm eating the grain, I'd like to suck up all the nutrients possible. Some traditional preparation methods--like an overnight soak in warm water with an acidic medium can help reduce phytic acid in some grains.
In the case of oats which are low in phytase (the enzyme which, once activated by the warmth and acid, helps break down the phytic acid), Amanda Rose suggests that you get much better phytic acid reduction by doing a complimentary soak: add a small amount of a freshly ground grain that is high in phytase to your oats when soaking them .
Complimentary soaking works well for a bowl of oatmeal, but what's a girl to do if she wants to make an oatmeal cookie?
Inspired by the process recommended by many traditional foodies for reducing phytic acid in nuts, I've opted to do a complimentary soak and then dehydrate the oats, leaving me with an oat that--theoretically--has less phytic acid and, therefore, more available nutrients.
Soaked and Dried Steel Cut Oats
4 cups steel cut oats
4 cups warm water
1/2 cup freshly ground wheat, spelt, rye, or buckwheat*
1/2 cup lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1. Combine all ingredients. Let sit in a warm spot (I like my oven with just the light turned on) for 12-24 hours.
2. Dump the soaking water; rinse the oats well. Let the oats sit in a strainer for 10-30 minutes to allow any excess water to drip off.
3. Spread the oats evenly on fruit leather trays and dehydrate for 4-12 hours. The length of time will depend on the temperature you select and your dehydrator. Alternately, spread the oats on a cookie sheet, place in an oven set to its lowest temperature until dry.
After all that work . . . ?
The final product looks a lot like the steel cut oats you started out with, but the texture is different. They remind me a bit of Grapenuts--a little more chewy and less crunchy.
I have only recently begun to experiment with these, but so far I've had success substituting them in recipes in place of rolled oats.
Using these does change the texture somewhat, but my picky children and husband gave the thumbs up to a pear-plum crisp topping made with these in place of rolled oats, as well as some sweet energy bites made with these. Steel cut oats are a less processed food than rolled oats, so I will opt to use them whenever possible.
Check out the recipe for Banana Oat Circles to put these steel cut oats to use.
*I keep a little coffee mill on hand just for this purpose (cheap, from Walmart); apparently freshly ground is important as it has higher phytase content--which really makes one wonder if soaking wheat flour that is NOT freshly ground does one any good at all, which is why, I often choose just not to sweat this whole soaking thing.