When the weather gets chillier, hemlines get longer and any number of layers fewer than two is just simply not enough, comfort food is a must on the menu to keep us going throughout the colder months. One dish in particular is particularly cherished — in fact 837 million bowls of it is eaten by us Brits during just autumn and winter every year. Of course, we’re talking about porridge. Wonderfully warming and oh-so easy to make, porridge is a breakfast of champions that we’ve been enjoying practically since the beginning of time (okay, that’s not strictly true but it’s definitely been a while!).
But how do you make sure your porridge is the best bowlful it can possibly be? Do you know your groats from your grains? Do you know the answer to the age-old question: to soak or not to soak? Fear no more, humble porridge apprentices — we’ve got all the answers…
Head to the cereal aisle of your nearest supermarket and you’ll find endless options for oats that could baffle even the most seasoned of breakfasters. There are jumbo oats, instant oats, pinhead oats and medium grain oats — all producing a slightly different taste and texture. Depending on your preference, jumbo to pinhead range from coarse with a bit of bite to soft and satisfyingly smooth. One thing that experts do agree (yes, there are porridge experts) is that instant oats are a no-no if you want to create a truly sublime bowlful. Instant oats are made by very thinly rolling the oat kernel (or groat) and steaming them for longer than usual. Not only does this make for a more gloopy texture, most of the nutrients are strained from the oats this way. Of course, the benefit of is instant oats is that they cook more quickly, but when chasing perfection, the end result is well worth the wait.
A question that has divided the nations. Scots believe that porridge should traditionally contain nothing more than oats, water and salt, but many of us turn to the creamier temptation of a good slug of milk. Those in the water camp argue that milk makes the porridge too rich and thick, whereas the opposite party claim that water is just too runny. We have an ingenious solution for you — experts believe (yes, them again) that a mixture of both is the ideal compromise to achieve texture perfection. A 1:2 ratio of milk to water should give you exactly what you want. Soaking the oats in yoghurt overnight will make them easier to cook, softer and actually easier to digest due to the acids in the yoghurt.
You probably saw this coming, but traditionalists would never put their porridge in the microwave, even though the promise of less washing up is very tempting. A pan and the hob is the best way to get a proper bowl of porridge — two pans if you’re wanting to go the extra mile. Toasting your oats gently in a frying pan before transferring them to a saucepan with its liquid to simmer adds a deliciously nutty flavour. For this flavour to develop, make sure you turn off the hob once its cooked and pop a lid on your pan to let it sit for five minutes before serving.
When it comes to how you flavour your porridge, this is definitely a case of each to their own. Whether you go for sweet or savoury, healthy or indulgent, crunchy or creamy, is completely up to you. To find out what gets us Joules staff up in the morning, we asked the teams at Head Office what their perfect bowl of porridge looks like…
Peter, Studio Operations Manager
Beth, Wholesale Marketing Coordinator
Lucy, Digital Content Manager
From all the weird and wonderful servings the Joules team prefer, one thing is very clear — the perfect bowl of porridge is whatever you want it to be! How do you have yours?