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Porridge with milk
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsOats or other cereal meals, water or milk
Cookbook:Porridge  Porridge
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For other uses, see Porridge (disambiguation).
Porridge with milk
Serving temperatureHot
Main ingredientsOats or other cereal meals, water or milk
Cookbook:Porridge  Porridge

Porridge (also spelled porage, porrige, parritch, etc.)[1] is a dish made by boiling ground, crushed, or chopped cereal in water, milk, or both, with optional flavourings, usually served hot in a bowl or dish. It may be sweetened with sugar or honey and served as a sweet dish, or mixed with spices and vegetables to make a savoury dish. The term is usually used for oat porridge (porridge oats); there are similar dishes made with other grains or legumes, but they often have other unique names, such as polenta, grits or kasha.

A dish made of oats alone, either in crushed or meal form, or whole-grain, is known simply as oatmeal in the U.S. and in some areas of Canada. Hot cereals are often prepared as instant breakfasts.

Oat and semolina porridge are the most popular varieties in many countries. In addition to oats, cereal meals used for porridge include rice, wheat, barley, corn and buckwheat. Legumes such as peasemeal can also be used to make porridge. Gruel is similar to porridge but is made without milk and has a very thin consistency.

Porridge was a traditional food in much of Northern Europe and Russia. Barley was a common grain, though other grains and yellow peas could be used, depending on local conditions. It was primarily a savoury dish, with meats, root crops, vegetables and herbs added for flavour. Porridge could be cooked in a large metal kettle over hot coals or heated in a cheaper earthenware container by adding hot stones until boiling hot. Until leavened bread and baking ovens became commonplace in Europe, porridge was a typical means of preparing cereal crops for the table. It was also commonly used as prison food for inmates in the British prison system and so "doing porridge" became a slang term for a sentence in prison.

In many modern cultures, porridge is widely eaten as a breakfast dish, often with the addition of salt, butter, sugar, milk or cream, depending on regional preferences. In the English-speaking Caribbean islands it is common to add cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and almond essence to the oats, water and milk. Some manufacturers of breakfast cereal, such as Scott's Porage Oats and, in Republic of Ireland, Flahavan's Progress Oatlets, sell 'ready-made' forms and/or products based on pre-cooked oatmeal. Porridge is one of the easiest ways to digest grains or legumes and is used traditionally in many cultures to nurse the sick back to health. It is commonly eaten by athletes in training.[2][3][4]

Recipes and ratios[edit]

For oatmeal porridge, milk, water or a mixture can be used as cooking liquid. Scottish traditionalists allow only oats, water and salt. Full-fat milk makes a rich porridge. A ratio of one part of milk to two of water has been recommended as a happy medium.[5] One part of oats can be cooked in two to four parts of liquid. Two parts has been criticised as giving too gluey a result and four parts as too loose; a ratio of 1:3 has been recommended.[5] One source suggests using equal parts of pinhead (steel-cut) oatmeal and medium ground oatmeal. There are techniques suggested by cooks, such as pre-soaking, but a comparative test found very little difference in the end result (one suggestion is to stir only clockwise, as "anti-clockwise stirring will encourage the devil into your breakfast"). Toasting the oats beforehand for a couple of minutes gives the finished dish a distinctly nutty, roasted flavour. Letting the porridge sit, lidded, for 5 to 15 minutes may develop a little more flavour. A little salt added towards the end of cooking is essential, whether or not the porridge is sweetened.[5]

Flavourings are used: demerara sugar, golden syrup, Greek yoghurt and honey, even langoustine tails and scallops. A girdle of very cold milk or single cream is reported to be essential (by some 'experts'), traditionally served in a separate bowl to keep it cold.[5] Cooking time can be adjusted to taste, but simmering for ten minutes is typical for non-instant (and tastier) oatmeal.


Further information: List of porridges
Porridge oats before cooking
Millet porridge

Varieties and preparation of oat porridge[edit]

In many countries both plain ground, crushed, steel-cut, etc. oats are available, and also many commercial porridge-based foods which may cook faster and contain any of a large range of flavourings, all cooked by boiling with water and sometimes milk.

The US Consumer Reports Web site found that the more cooking required, the stronger the oat flavor and the less mushy the texture. They tested ten flavored instant oatmeals, finding that nine were good but nothing special; their sweetness and maple or brown-sugar taste overwhelmed the oats. The tenth instant oatmeal rated only fair. The longer-cooking of four unflavored oatmeals all tasted very good. The best rated was not a fast-cooking version, requiring about 30 minutes. Others took 5 or 1 minute. They were all good, chewy with a toasted nutty grain flavor; the slowest-cooking one was the best.[13] Cooking in a microwave oven would change the timings and possibly the results.

Fineness and properties[edit]

Oat grains can be sold whole (groats), ground into oatmeal or Scottish oats, steamed and rolled into flakes of varying thickness, cut into two or three pieces (steel-cut), or toasted and stone-ground (Macroom Oatmeal). Groats can be used as other whole grains; they are a little softer than wheat berries. Rolled oats can be used for many purposes; the bigger the flakes, the chewier the result. They may be precooked—instant varieties. Steel-cut, as a cereal, are much chewier. They are suitable as a breakfast cereal, but less so for baking, as they do not soften well. It is said that, because of their size and shape, the body breaks steel-cut oats down more slowly than rolled oats, reducing spikes in blood sugar and keeping you full longer.[14]

Nutrition information for oat porridge[edit]

Main article: Oat § Health

The nutrition information for typical porridge oats without flavouring is basically that of oats; milk and flavourings added during cooking or afterwards add other nutrients; some, such as extra sugar and sodium, may be less desirable. Oats are a good source of dietary fibre; health benefits are claimed for oat bran in particular, which is part of the grain. Nutrition information is available from suppliers and is printed on packaged oats.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ porridge (pronunciation: /ˈpɒrɪdʒ/), Oxford English Dictionary, retrieved 2013-04-04 
  2. ^ Fisher, Roxanne. "Eat like an athlete - Beckie Herbert". BBC Good Food. BBC Worldwide. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  3. ^ Chappell, Bill (2012-07-25). "Athletes And The Foods They Eat: Don't Try This At Home". The Torch. NPR. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  4. ^ Randall, David (2012-02-19). "Cursed! The astonishing story of porridge's poster boy". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  5. ^ a b c d How to cook perfect porridge, Felicity Cloake, The Guardian, 10 November 2011. An article by an expert who has systematically tried many variants to get the best result.
  6. ^ Lloyd, J & Mitchinson, J: "The Book of General Ignorance". Faber & Faber, 2006.
  7. ^ "Nutrition diva: Are Steel Cut Oats Healthier?". Nutritiondiva.quickanddirtytips.com. 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  8. ^ Nasty-Face, Jack (1836). Nautical Economy, or Forecastle Recollections of Events during the last War. London: William Robinson. 
  9. ^ Last male WWI veteran dies - ABC Sydney - Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  10. ^ http://es.wikibooks.org/wiki/Gachas_manchegas
  11. ^ http://es.wikihow.com/preparar-gachas-de-ma%C3%ADz
  12. ^ Grant, Mark (1999). Roman Cookery. London: Serif. ISBN 978-1897959602. 
  13. ^ "For best oatmeal taste, be patient". Consumer Reports. November 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-04-10. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  14. ^ "Steel Cut, Rolled, Instant, Scottish? (Marisa's comment, November 10, 2012 at 9:46 am)". Bob's Red Mill. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  15. ^ "Typical plain rolled oats: Sainsbury's Whole, Rolled Porridge Oats". Sainsburys.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 

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