Instant oatmeal is a quick cooking form of whole grain oats that has been coarsely chopped, precooked, flattened between metal rollers, and dried. The oats may be mixed with other dry ingredients, such as powdered milk, sugar, or dehydrated fruit, to create an easily reconstituted breakfast food. While traditional oatmeal may take 20 minutes or more to prepare, the instant variety can be table-ready in only two to three minutes.
There are some trade-offs to consider, however, when using instant oatmeal instead of the traditional oat varieties. The consistency can be noticeably thinner and creamier than wholeoatmeal, which means it doesn’t have the distinctive “bite” many oatmeal enthusiasts prefer. Because the oats have been precooked, they may also be lacking in some of the nutrients and fiber found in traditional oatmeal.
Traditional oatmeal takes a significant amount of time to cook because the entire grain must be penetrated by the water to soften it up. By grinding, flattening and precooking the wholeoatmeal grain, instant oatmeal producers significantly reduce the amount of time needed for hot water to penetrate and reconstitute the processed oats. The hot water can also rehydrate dried apples or other fruits, as well as liquefy the additional sweeteners and powdered milk.