Oat flour is a great substitution for wheat flour that you can easily make with an ingredient you likely have in the cupboard: oats! This whole grain is naturally gluten-free, full of fibre and has many vitamins and minerals. Oats are also an environmentally-friendly choice.
This article is part of the plastic-free food essentials series:
Why oats are a sustainable choice
A lesser-known benefit of oats is their sustainable credentials. Oats are a low-input crop and require fewer resources to grow and produce than other crops. They have a long shelf-life and are available in many bulk stores. Oats require much less water to grow than almonds and rarely require shipping from tropical areas as coconuts do.
Meanwhile, creating demand for other grains in an agribusiness industry that focuses on the monoculture farming of corn and soy is important. Substituting bacon, eggs and avocado for a nutritious bowl of oatmeal porridge with a scoop of vegan protein powder or a handful of nuts saves the planet an immense amount of resources.
Another positive is that oats are generally grown in cooler regions and, therefore, aren’t associated with deforestation in developing countries. More than half of oats currently grown are fed to animals, so if more people switch to plant-based meals, there is already plenty to go around!
Why you should cook with oat flour
Oat flour is an easy substitution for less common and more expensive flours such as almond flour, potato starch or gluten-free flour. It’s also less dense than wheat flour, making for a light and fluffy texture when it comes to baking. Oat flour can also be used as a thickening agent in sauces, liquids and other recipes in place of cornflour, tapioca flour and arrowroot powder.
The end product of using oat flour might not be exactly the same when substituting for other ingredients. Therefore, it’s up to you as the cook and the recipe you’re making as to whether oat flour will work. It can easily substitute wheat flour at a 1:1 or 1:3/4 ratio in most recipes.
How to make oat flour in one minute
Note: you generally end up with 3/4 of the volume of oat flour when ground down from whole oats. Start with 25% extra than is needed for your recipe – you can always grind more.
- Food processor or high-powered blender
- Baking powder (if making self-raising flour. 1 tsp baking powder per 1 cup of oat flour)
- Measure out the required amount of flour in whole oats and add 25% extra e.g. 1 cup of flour = 1 + 1/4 cup rolled oats.
- Add to a food processor or blender and grind for one minute. The texture will be similar to bread crumbs.
- If a finer texture is needed, grind for another minute. The texture will be similar to wholemeal flour (optional).
- If an even finer texture is needed, grind for another minute and sieve twice to remove larger pieces (optional).
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Zero waste ideas:
- Fine oat flour is only necessary for certain recipes. Don’t worry if the flour looks chunkier than wheat flour, especially when baking.
- If you sieve the oat flour to get a finer product, use the leftover chunks in a baking recipe, in your next bowl of oatmeal or as a homemade exfoliator.
No food processor? No worries
It’s a little more of an arm workout, but you can try:
- Finely chopping the oats with a sharp knife
- Grinding using a mortar and pestle