Why are organic grain foods sometimes bitter

Has it sometimes happened to you, that you buy organic oat flakes (rolled oats), take them home, prepare them, then prepare yourself for a heavenly taste and… get disappointed, because the food is bitter?

Quick answer is simple – oat flakes had contact with air for too long. Most interesting is, that they can be only one month old after processing, but still they are unbearable. The same I experienced with barley porridge.

Solution one – seal oats and oat flakes so that there is no contact with air. For example, in a tin candy box. Of course, cool storage place will always slow down all chemical reactions.

Solution two – switch to pearl oats (oat grain without peal). Since less processed, they last longer.

I always could not believe it. So expensive and so bad! I thought it is because organic farmers still apply something, so that mice or insects don’t eat crops. I tried washing before cooking, it seemed to help a bit, but I guess only psychologically, because when I simply asked a farmer, what’s wrong, I got the picture.

Oat flakes are deemed as a diet food for people who want to lose weight. Mass producers put some dietologist union stamps on the packages that oat flakes are very healthy. How absurd it all is after I heard what farmer told me.

Long-chain fatty acids. That is the problem. As soon as grain is damaged, i.e., pealed, pressed, fats in the grain start to react with air and become acids. After one month it goes so far, that it is possible to feel it by taste. In order not to frustrate consumers mass producers heat-process oat flakes to deactivate enzymes that cause rancidity (“Processing of oats and the impact of processing operations on nutrition and health benefits”, 2014., British Journal of Nutrition). This is how oat flakes become from MOST FAT grain into DIET food. Yes, oats contain more fats than most grains (2,75%).

I noticed the same about the barley. When I was younger I was not so principal about my health and I had a drink time to time. Of course I wanted to try some organic beer. What I noticed was, that beer that is made of organic barley for some reason tasted like plant oil. I was surprised! Why did they add plant oil in beer?! It was unusual, but this is how beer tasted hundred years ago and what people drink today is actually something else.

Forget about the beer. This is all about oats and barley. Plant oil rich foods if organic, and zero fat foods if intensive mass production. So when you buy oat flakes, ask if they been heated and see the expiration date. In Latvia it is usually two months. I count one month back to get me a real best before date. However there is no such thing as best before since degrading process is constant, so maybe you have to think about pressing your oats yourself right before you eat them. Or you should try to eat pearl oats.

This website explains some things as well:


Article that explains fatty acids:


Pearl oats.

Not as common as pearl barley, there can also be pearl oats. Takes longer time to cook compared to flakes, but good result will convince you to give up flakes. In Latvian Zero Waste discussions facebook group some individuals mentioned that they developed a technique to save energy while cooking peas, rice, buckwheat and pearl barley or oats. This technique is to switch off the stove as soon as the water with one of these foods is boiling and wrap the pot in a blanket to keep the heat inside the pot. Pot must stay sealed like this all night. Sealed heat will continue to “cook” the food. In the morning you will have the nicest warm porridge. A good time manager will appreciate this technique even more than boiling water and putting it on flakes in the morning.


About Pavels Melnis

Independent ecology activist, family farmer, gardener and forestkeeper. Musician: violin, guitar, singing. Hobbies: traveling by bicycle, learning to play different music instruments - accordion, piano, recorder flute, harmonica, drums; languages, theology, prehistory, logbuilding, repairing and recycling. Religious. Ecological. Love all things ethnic and traditional.
This entry was posted in Organic Food and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Why are organic grain foods sometimes bitter

  1. Stephen Nitschke says:

    That’s all very well, but I have been buying oats that I get to roll in the shop on a hand press, and they taste a little bitter.

  2. Stephen Nitschke says:

    I get my late from a store where I roll them myself, yet they stick taste bitter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s