From Oats To Oatmeal How Are Oats Processed

Welcome to our guide on the fascinating journey of oats from the field to your breakfast bowl. Today, we’ll explore the oats processing industry and give you a glimpse into the seed-to-spoon process. Join us as we take you behind the scenes of the Quaker Oats milling facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where high-quality oats are transformed into delicious oatmeal.

Key Takeaways:

  • Oats processing involves a thorough cleaning and hulling process to ensure top quality.
  • Quaker Oats works closely with about 400 farmers through its Direct Growers Program to source the majority of its oats.
  • The milling process involves kilning, cutting, or rolling the oats into different products.
  • Oatmeal provides numerous health benefits, including being a whole grain and high in fiber.
  • The future of oatmeal looks promising as more consumers recognize its nutritional value and the food processing industry incorporates it into innovative products.

The History of Oatmeal

Oatmeal has a long and rich history, dating back to ancient times. The consumption of wild oats can be traced as far back as the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, where they were a staple food for early civilizations.

In the United States, oats were initially regarded solely as horse feed, until a German grocer named Ferdinand Schumacher recognized the potential of oats as a nutritious human food source. In the mid-1800s, Schumacher started grinding oats in his store, catering to the growing immigrant population in urban areas who found comfort in traditional oatmeal recipes.

With his vision in mind, Schumacher established the German Mills American Oatmeal Company, which revolutionized the oatmeal industry. To power the millstones used for grinding oats into oatmeal, Schumacher harnessed the energy of a water wheel, a significant technological advancement at the time.

The process involved dehulling the oats, removing the outer husks, resulting in a coarse oatmeal meal that required hours of cooking to achieve a desirable consistency and taste.

However, the German Mills American Oatmeal Company faced a breakthrough moment when one of Schumacher’s employees introduced a more efficient method. By replacing the traditional millstones with rotating knife blades, residue was reduced, and oatmeal consistency greatly improved, making it more accessible and convenient for consumers.

It was during this time that Henry Parsons Crowell, the owner of the Quaker Oats Company, recognized the potential of the oatmeal market. Crowell began selling steel-cut oats packaged as Quaker Oats, which eventually became a household name across the United States.

Oatmeal’s journey from humble beginnings to becoming a beloved breakfast staple is a testament to the dedication and ingenuity of visionaries like Ferdinand Schumacher, who paved the way for the popularity and accessibility of oatmeal in today’s society.

The Process of Making Oatmeal

The process of making oatmeal involves several essential steps that transform raw oats into a delicious and nutritious breakfast staple. Each step contributes to the final product’s texture, flavor, and shelf life, ensuring a satisfying bowl of oatmeal every time.


Before the oats can be processed, they undergo a thorough cleaning process. This step involves washing the oats under a high-intensity water spray, removing dirt, dust, and any foreign materials that may be present. Cleaning ensures that the oats meet food safety standards and guarantees a clean and pure final product.


Next, the oats go through a dehulling process to remove the inedible husks. Dehulling is crucial as it eliminates the tough outer layer, making the oats more digestible and pleasant to eat. Once dehulled, the oats are separated into different sizes through a grading process to ensure uniformity in the final product.


After dehulling, the oats are dried or kilned to remove excess moisture and develop their unique flavor. Drying prevents spoilage and extends the shelf life of the oatmeal. It also assists in enhancing the oats’ natural taste, making them more palatable when cooked.


The oats can then undergo the rolling process, transforming them into flakes. This step varies depending on the desired texture. For quick oats, the oats are rolled between cylinders to create thin, flat flakes. On the other hand, steel-cut oats are cut by sharp knives into smaller, coarse pieces, resulting in a chewier oatmeal texture.


For a toasty and rich flavor, the rolled or cut oats are roasted in a specialized roaster. Roasting enhances the nutty notes of the oats, adding depth to the overall taste profile. The carefully controlled roasting process ensures consistency and delivers a delightful aroma to the final oatmeal product.


Once the oats have been cleaned, dehulled, dried, rolled, and roasted, they are ready for packaging. The oatmeal is typically packaged in pre-measured containers, ensuring convenience for consumers. The packages are then vacuum-sealed to maintain freshness and preserve the oatmeal’s quality. Finally, the packaged oatmeal is ready to be shipped to stores and enjoyed by oatmeal enthusiasts worldwide.


The Benefits of Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a nutritious breakfast option due to its whole grain nature and high fiber content. It is 100% whole grain and a good source of fiber, important vitamins, and minerals. The soluble fiber found in oatmeal, known as beta-glucans, can help lower blood cholesterol levels when consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. This is why oatmeal is often recommended for heart health.

Additionally, oatmeal provides sustained energy and can help with weight management due to its satiating properties. It is a versatile food that can be enjoyed in various forms like overnight oats, oatmeal cookies, or in savory recipes.

heart health oatmeal
Benefits of Oatmeal Explanation
Whole Grain Oatmeal is made from whole grains, which contain all parts of the grain, including the bran, germ, and endosperm. Whole grains are associated with numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
High Fiber Oatmeal is an excellent source of dietary fiber. Fiber helps regulate digestion, promotes satiety, and can aid in weight management. It can also help lower cholesterol levels and maintain stable blood sugar levels. A single serving of oatmeal can provide a significant portion of the daily recommended fiber intake.
Heart Health The high fiber and beta-glucans in oatmeal can help reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol. Lower cholesterol levels are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke. Incorporating oatmeal into a heart-healthy diet can have a positive impact on cardiovascular health.

The Future of Oatmeal

Oatmeal has become a beloved and nutritious breakfast option for many people, thanks to its outstanding health benefits. As more consumers become aware of its nutritional value, the oatmeal industry is expected to continue growing in the future. Oatmeal is not only a popular choice for breakfast, but it has also found its way into other food products through innovative food processing techniques.

The food processing industry has successfully incorporated oatmeal into various products, including meat substitutes, leveraging its health benefits and versatility. Oatmeal’s high fiber content and heart-healthy properties make it an ideal ingredient for creating nutritious and satisfying alternatives for those looking to reduce their meat consumption. As scientific research continues to emphasize the positive impact of oatmeal on heart health and overall well-being, the demand for oat-based products is poised to increase further.

In response to the growing consumer interest in oatmeal and evolving dietary needs, manufacturers are constantly innovating and developing new oatmeal products. From convenient on-the-go options to creative oat-based recipes, the oatmeal industry is committed to meeting consumer preferences and providing a wide range of choices. The future of oatmeal looks bright, as this humble grain continues to make its mark in the food industry and contribute to a healthy and satisfying lifestyle.

Scroll to Top