This recipe was inspired by Ottolenghi’s take on Bircher Müsli, a porridge created by a Swiss doctor for his patients. I really liked the smooth acidity that stays until the end of the flavour caused by yoghurt. So trying to create a plant-based breakfast that can reproduce that pleasant acidic finish, I looked at fermented oats. Why fermented oats?
Disappointing Plant-Based Yoghurts
Until this day, I never came across a vegan yoghurt that I really liked. Many recipes just blend up some nut or soybeans and inoculate with a yoghurt culture. They are pretty heavy and something is interfering with the acidity in the flavour (it might be cellulose). It’s not as clean as in dairy yoghurts. Not to mention the texture which doesn’t develop as well due to a difference in the protein profile. Plant-based yoghurts in supermarkets are not as heavy but often contain texture- giving additives and flavouring additives that are not that great.
I came across a recipe that claims to create good flavour and texture without additives but it uses a lot of nuts or beans which will turn out very expensive and probably wasteful… If you come across a good yoghurt recipe, please share it with me!
Fermented Oats Do the Job
While fermenting oats might sound like an advanced culinary technical and modern it actually is very traditional. Perhaps even ancient as porridge goes way back to the time when people weren’t even baking bread yet. In Britanny, people used to soak their oats overnight and that is fermentation already. Depending on the temperature, the resulting porridge made from it was acidic.
How to Ferment Oats
1. Put oats and enough water to cover them once they are soaked in a bowl or jar. Cover with a cloth or lid without screwing it completely tight.
2. Let sit for 10 hours or a few days (stir occasionally).
The speed of the fermentation depends on temperature so if it is not warm where you live might need to ferment for a few days before you can taste acidity.
If you got into sourdough bread during lockdown you can use your starter to ferment your oats. In the book The Art of Fermentation, which is where I have some of the information above from, Sandor Katz writes:
“My friend Brett Guadagnino, a baker in New Orleans, uses sourdough starter to ferment oats and soaks them in milk rather than water. ‘I add a scant teaspoon of culture to a big mason jar of oats and milk,’ he writes. ‘The trick is to time it right so that it isn’t too sour by breakfast time. Ideally, the mixture thickens and acquires a cheese-like consistency and flavor. It tastes great as a slightly sweetened or savory breakfast.'”
I might give this a try but without using milk.
Upgrading Your Porridge Game
While I don’t have anything against cooking fermented oats for your porridge I wanted to have a recipe that doesn’t kill off the bacteria that are so beneficial for our health. Fermented oats have a slightly milky touch to them and turn more acidic as the fermentation progresses. Moreover, they get lighter in flavour and feel and softer until the point where they dissolve.
In the particular environment I’m living in now, and with the product I’m using, this ferment produced fruity notes, too, reminding me of mango. However, in Portugal, I’ve also ended up with fermented oats not tasting fruity at all. I wanted to pair the subtle freshness that comes along with the acidity with gentle floral notes found in fruits. Pear and plum seemed to me like a beautiful match. They don’t quite work as a topping when they’re cold, however, once the flavour and aroma compounds are more volatile due to heat, they become the star. It tastes amazing!
Yet, the fruits are not the real star. Of course, the fermented oats are what makes this breakfast special. But our love for oats doesn’t need to end here: Have a look at this ultra-delicious Tahini & Molasses Porridge.
One last thing before we get to the recipe: I don’t want to be poaching out the goodness out of fruits all the time, which is why I’m working on a fruit topping that doesn’t need to be heated but is flavourful nonetheless.
Fermented Oats in Porridge with Pear and Plum
- 1 glass oats
- 2 glasses water
- 1 pear
- 4 dried plums
- 1 tbsp walnuts
- 1 tsp honey/syrup
- pinch of cinnamon
- 6 tbsp fermented oats
- 5 tbsp tahini
- Add the oats, salt and water in a saucepan, let boil and then simmer for 10-15 min. Stir occasionally.
- In the meanwhile, chop the fruits. Set a pan on medium heat, add the fruits, a pinch of cinnamon and a tiny pinch of salt. Break up the walnuts with your hand and add them to the pan. Roast until the pear is slightly softer and warm in the inside. Turn off the heat. Leave them everything in the pan.
- Check on the oats. If there is still a little bit of liquid around, that’s fine. The porridge will thicken as it cools down. Strain the fermented oats. Combine the tahini with one side of the porridge and strained fermented oats with the other. Add the honey/syrup and stir briefly.
- Top with the fruits and walnuts. Have a good start into your day!
Did you like this recipe? I’d love to read you feedback in the comments!