I bet a lot of people only know of two kinds of oats instant and regular! But there are actually a few different kinds (that mainly have to do with processing), read on for more info on oats.
- Whole Oats- Whole oats have a hard outer hull that needs to be removed. If you are going to buy whole oats, the hull needs to be removed before eating.
- Oat Groats- The whole grain oat with the outer hull removed. They look like a lot like brown rice. They can be eaten at this stage, but generally people eat one of the more processed stages.
- Steel-cut Oats- A rougher cut of oats made by passing the groat through steel cutters that chop them into 3-4 pieces. Because the oat bran is still intact steel-cut oats are some of the most nutritious.
- Rolled Oats- Made by steaming and flattening groats. There are two varieties: old-fashioned and quick-cooking. The former is made by passing whole groat through steam partially cooking it and then flattening it, the latter is usually steel-cut oats that have been steamed and flattened.
- Instant Oats- These are just the next level in processing, they are made by steaming and flattening the oats more. These are the least nutritious form of oats.
- Oat Flour- Basically oats ground into a powder.
All of these types can usually be found in both white and red oats. Red and White refer to the color of the oat, and there main difference is where they are grown.
All types of oats (except the whole oat and oat flour) can be used pretty much interchangeably, it mainly depends on the texture you desire and the time you have to cook them. You obviously won't use instant oatmeal for baking, but you could use it for a quick breakfast. It's mainly a matter of preference in most situations, and they all pretty much have the same flavor.