Why You Should Be Lacto-Fermenting Your Oatmeal (It’s Not Weird at All!)

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

We eat a lot of muesli and oatmeal in our house, and we usually soak the oats overnight in a little water or apple juice to save time in the morning. Recently, an intriguing new twist on this method came across my radar: lacto-fermenting oatmeal with yogurt.

It’s simple: soak the oats in water and yogurt overnight, which kickstarts some lacto-fermentation in the oats.

My husband used to live in a co-op, where they made oh-so-many fermented foods, so this seemed right up our alley. I had to give it a try.

What’s the Point of Lacto-Fermentation?

I’d originally heard this idea for adding yogurt to oats from a feature on Tasting Table. Mixing just a little yogurt into the oats kicks off the lacto-fermentation process. What does that mean? The beneficial Lactobacillus in the yogurt goes to work on the starches and sugars in the oats, creating lactic acid (a preservative) and helping break down the tough structure of the oats.

Read the Original Tip: How One Simple Trick Can Revolutionize Your Oatmeal by Eleanore Park

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

The Testing Method

I set out to try this out by soaking 1 cup of regular rolled oats in 1 cup of water with 2 tablespoons of plain whole-milk yogurt. I set it in a clean, covered container and left it overnight (about 12 hours).

The Results

When I woke up the next morning, my oats had soaked up most of the liquid. You can eat them as is, but I warmed mine up in a saucepan with a little milk.

The fermentation process that began overnight left the oats with a much more complex flavor than regular overnight oats. They don’t taste sour, but they definitely have a deeper, slightly yeasty flavor — it was really wonderful with a handful of currants and brown sugar (or any favorite toppings)!

The Verdict: This is a mind-blowing tip!

Final Notes

So why try this at home? The bonus of this technique is three-fold: Whenever you soak your grains, you’re saving a bit of cook time, and this method is no exception — I find soaking oats overnight (with or without yogurt) makes for a really quick on-the-go breakfast. Second, adding the yogurt into your soaking liquid really amps up the flavor and makes for a much more interesting bowl of oats. And third, there is said to be a nutritional benefit as well; soaking grains reduces their phytic acid, which can make them easier to digest. A soaking window of eight to 24 hours is ideal; the longer you let the oats sit, the more complex and flavorful they will be.

If you’re looking for a way to add a little excitement to your morning oatmeal routine, this is a great place to start. And it’s certainly timely, as we now find ourselves firmly in fall, a season in which I find nothing more comforting than a warm, deeply flavored bowl of oats to start the morning.

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