Monday, March 5, 2012


I love oatmeal in the winter months. Sometimes I eat it all year long too. My latest cooked breakfast cereal has been steel cut oatmeal. In the quest for making easy foods that can be done in advance, I found quite a few recipes for slow cooker steel cut oatmeal. I loved the concept and I enjoy steel cut oatmeal but never made it much before because I knew it took forever to cook. I knew I wanted to make the oats in the crock pot, so I began my quest to the steel cut oats in England, but could not find them here. I was perplexed - if the oats are called "Irish Oats," then I figured they must be sold in the UK which encompasses part of Ireland.

I was incorrect.

I cannot find these oats over here! When I started to look for "Steel Cut Oats" at the grocery store, no one seemed to know what I wanted when I asked for them. I was pointed in the direction of oatmeal but nothing on the shelves that resembled steel cut oats. After some research online, I did find out that they are not necessarily called Irish Oats or Steel Cut Oats over here but are often referred to as "Pinhead Oats."

According to wikipedia, Steel-cut oats are whole grain groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) which have been cut into pieces. They are commonly used in Scotland and Ireland to make porridge, whereas rolled oats are used in England, other English-speaking countries, and Scandinavia. They are sometimes named after the grade of cut, e.g. pinhead oats; steel-cut oats from Ireland are sometimes called Irish oats.

Why do Scotland & Ireland use them but their neighbor England does not? It seems a bit strange to me.

I went so far as to email a few oatmeal distributors in England who claim to have pinhead oats within their product portfolio. One company said their brand was sold at the local grocery store chain, Waitrose. I went into the Waitrose store by us and talked to a supervisor. No, unfortunately they don't carry that type of oatmeal and weren't sure where to find it but suggested calling the local farm shops in the area. So, I called three farm shops. No one remotely seemed interested in helping me to find this type of oatmeal.

Alas, my quest for the oatmeal here was fairly unsuccessful. I have seen it now online but I have not yet ordered from the web store. Instead I took the "import" route and brought back a few heavy tins of it in my suitcase after the holidays. Two months back in the UK, I was almost out of it already so I had Scott buy more last week when he was back in the US for work.

I just find it terribly ironic that is marketed as "IRISH OATMEAL" but it is not even sold in the country that exports more goods to Ireland than any other country!
My new supply of Steel Cut, Pinhead, Irish, or whatever-you-want-to-call-them Oats directly from the US for my slow cooker breakfast recipes. Yet another food product that I would have thought would be available in both countries but apparently is not as readily available as I would have thought.

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