A 1kg box of Scott’s Porage, milled in Cupar, Scotland has arrived in Greece. It is unlikely that any of my Scott ancestors were involved in the production of Scott’s Porage, although it was a pair of Scott brothers in Glasgow that started the company back in 1880. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever come across this brand of Oat Porridge before, although it’s quite possible that my Scottish forefathers may have consumed it. My Northern Irish side would more likely have had an Northern Irish brand of oats for their breakfast – I just don’t recall what my grandfather had.
As a kid, I was brought up on rolled oat porridge, and I detested the stuff most of the time. A sprinkling of brown sugar or honey, or sometimes some sprinkled ground ginger as my grandfather, Hugh Scott would enjoy his morning porridge breakfast, helped make it more palatable to me, but generally speaking it near every morning, made me want to boke; the texture and sliminess of thinly rolled boiled oats made my stomach turn.
“It will put hairs on your chest!” “It sticks to your ribs and keeps you warm on cold days!” my mother and others would exclaim to me as they saw the disgust on my face, trying to get the stuff down my throat. I hated the texture of it against my tongue, didn’t have much flavour to me that I could understand anyone enjoying it, and my throat would seem to close up and get stuck making it near impossible to swallow the stuff.
I was made to eat it though, on the basis that it was “good for me, would help build my muscles, and that it was the most economical thing to buy.” Indeed, after we immigrated to Canada, there were times when money was tough to come by and I can recall some times having rolled oat porridge for more than one meal in a day.
It didn’t help that my mother also insisted on saving money buy buying powdered skim milk, reconstituting it with too much water, and that would be the milk we’d have.
Visit My Grandfather In N. Ireland – It Was Different
When I visited my grandfather in Northern Ireland, I can recall eating porridge at his house, but it seemed different somehow than the stuff we had in Canada. Still not exactly something I loved to eat, but more palatable to me. I’m not really sure what the difference was, but I suspect it was it how the oats were milled or cut – they just didn’t have the same slimy texture that the stuff we had in Canada would produce after being cooked.
I would later discover that oats can be milled differently and some are rolled very thin, while others a little more thick, and yet others are “steel cut.”
When I was a young adult, I discovered McCann’s Irish Steel Cut Oats in a local grocery store – a brand new product and at a promotional price, and in an attractive tin, that I decided to try. I was very impressed! An oat porridge breakfast I could actually find palatable and somehow with a bit more of a taste that I could enjoy as well. When I discovered them and told my father, he had mentioned to me that it was indeed, steel cut oats that he would eat for breakfast back in Northern Ireland and seemed pretty excited to hear that they could now be had at the local grocery store.
But I personally wasn’t stuck on oatmeal for breakfast – I had long since enjoyed breakfasts of fried or poached eggs with bacon, sausage, fried tomato, and when possible, fried soda farls and potato bread even though some claimed it was a “heart attack on a plate.” I was and still am suspicious of these claims that such fried meals are super bad for you, but that’s a discussion for another time.
The point is that while I enjoyed the McCann’s steel cut oats, they were not enough for me to make them a daily habit – and eventually I moved to an area where they were not easily available. So I haven’t enjoyed steel cut oats in many, many years (if any of my Irish friends want to make up for forgetting my birthday, you’re more than welcome to make up for it by sending me some steel cut oats!).
Discovering Scott’s Porage
The other day, I had enjoyed some homemade soup I prepared using lots of barley – another common grain growing up, and very well known in my family growing up, and back home in Northern Ireland and our Scottish forefathers. Unlike rolled oats, I loved whole barley in soups. Perhaps odd to some, but when I worked on the farm as a teenager, I enjoyed chewing the freshly harvested and dried barley grains.
Barley is a wonderful crop – some talk about sleeping in the hay loft, or having trysts in the hay – let me recommend to you that you get right over to the barley straw – much more comfortable than hay or wheat straw by a country mile. There is an old expression for when a person is tired, they might say, “It’s time to hit the hay..” but no, if I needed a 15 or 20 minute nap during a hard day’s work on the farm, I’d find the barley straw in the barn loft. Much more soft and comfortable. No itchiness like wool on skin that hay straw offers.
Anyways, I had managed to source this barley here in Greece and it brought back some great childhood food memories of home made Scotch Broth soups and Irish stews we’d make with plenty of tasty barley. My Greek companion could not recall ever eating barley before, yet she loved the lamb soup that I had made, with barley.
And that had me wondering if I could possibly source some steel cut oats here in Greece. Sadly, I could not. But could I find it on Amazon.de?
Sadly, I could not find it there either, which is odd to me, but in my search, I discovered Scott’s Porage. There were a lot of great reviews including those that claimed it was much better than the “regular” rolled oats they would buy at the supermarket, presumably in Germany, and how this brand of porridge would be there forever brand as long as they could order it.
What the heck? Let’s give it a try. I ordered a box.
It arrived two days ago and although it was the middle of the afternoon, it was a chilly afternoon – a great temperature to try something warm and that might “stick to my ribs and put hair on my chest.”
When I opened the box, I discovered oats that were rolled, but not the same as the Canadian rolled oats – a bit thicker. I measured out about 50 grams, added a cup and a 1/4 of water (not precisely the instructions on the box), added a few pinches of salt (we always added a pinch or three of salt, even when instructions don’t call for it), brought to a boil and did the auld “porridge stir” my father taught me – constant “figure of 8” stirring.
It may come as a surprise to many people today, but even children of 6, 7, and 8 years old are capable of cooking and stirring foods as they cook. One of my jobs at times, was to stir the cooking porridge, as much as I detested what it tasted like – I was a master stirrer of porridge. You take your wooden spoon, and basically “draw” the number 8 in the pot, over and over, to stir the porridge.
The Taste And Texture Test
About 15 minutes after I began to prepare my “Scott’s Porage,” it was ready to come out of the pot. In my case, I had made enough for 1 and 1/2 people, and there was only one of me there to eat it, so I didn’t bother to take it out of the wee pot I cooked it in. I just took the pot off the heat, added some cold milk and a big spoonful of Greek honey, and started to eat.
There is also a trick to how you add milk – I’ll get into that in a moment, but first, my impressions of my first time trying Scott’s Porage:
It was not bad! It has a texture I found palatable, a taste that is not disgusting (it’s not great, but with a bit of honey, is okay, knowing it’s very good for me), and not that “sliminess” that would make me gag with the stuff we had in Canada.
Of course, I will admit that there might be a bias going on because this stuff has my Family Surname on it, but when my own observations are taken into consideration with all the reviews I read on Amazon.de, I would have to think I was being fairly objective.
But still, when it comes down to it, I would prefer steel cut oats for a bit more flavor and a texture that I prefer.
The Proper Way To Add Milk To Your Bowl Of Oatmeal
I learned this from my father, and it turns out my father was almost always correct about everything!
Many people pour milk over their oatmeal. This makes for a big mess and a not very good mixture of milk and porridge. So what you do:
- Ladle or spoon the porridge from the pot into bowls.
- The porridge should “set” and firm up a bit in the bowl
- If adding honey, use a liquid honey and drizzle all over. If you want to sprinkle ginger, sprinkle to taste
- Don’t pour milk over the top of this. Instead, pour milk at the edge where the porridge meets the side of the bowl. Add as much milk as you want or as little as you want, but not on top.
- With your spoon, cut squares into the porridge – draw lines down and across, which allows the milk to seep into the porridge, but not totally mixing with it.
History of Scott’s Porage
Some years ago, Scott’s Porage was bought by Quaker Oats, and there is very little information today publicly available about Scott’s Porage, which is sad. The official domain for Scott’s Porage is scottsporage.com but if you go to that URL, you are will see a crappy page with no information about the product, but instead, a contact form asking for compliments, concerns, suggestions and inquiries. Absolutely nothing about the product itself of it’s history.
But I’ll provide some history, based on the old business domain, still available at archive.org.
In 1880, two Scott brothers, A & R Scott founded a company in Glasgow – Scott’s Midlothian Oat Flour.
By 1883, Scott’s Oatcakes and Oats Flower is recognized by The Victualling Trades Review as a prominent feature at both the richest and humblest tables throughout the land of Scotland, and beyond.
In 1884, The Mercantile Age discusses the high quality products and methods used at the Scott owned mill.
In 1909, demand was such that larger premises were needed and acquired at West Mills, Colinton, Edinburgh.
In 1924, further marketing graphics were created – oatmeal gives strength, and the kilt wearing athlete putting the shot (a Highland Games competition) was added, and is still used today and in the photo above of the packaging.
In 1928, disaster hit the mill and it was burned down. But Scott ingenuity and attitude had the mill rebuilt in 7 weeks.
After World War II, 1947, a flax mill in Cupar, Fife, Scotland was acquired and converted to processing oats. It should be noted that Cupar and area in Fife, is an area where a major Scott Clan Branch has existed for some centuries.
In 1955 the company was taken over by Cerebros Ltd, and then in 1969, by Rank, Hovis McDougall.
In 1982, Quaker Oats Ltd took over Scott’s Porage.
In 1989, Quaker Oats makes the Cupar, Scotland mill, the main mill for all of their European oatmeal production.
By the 1990’s, the Scottish Cupar mill becomes the main place of production of oatmeal of all types for Europe, Africa, and the Middle Eastern Markets.
A big accomplishment for a couple of Scott brothers, who started out small, but with ideas of quality, back in the 19th century!
If you know oatmeal is good for you and are looking for a product that gives some taste, a nice texture, and is very natural and healthy for you, you might want to consider Scott’s Porage yourself, available here on Amazon.
Etymology Of The Word Porridge (Porage)
Funny to me, my father used to tell me that I should try to think of porridge as “soup” and psychologically, that might help me enjoy it better… a soup of milk and oats. My father was not far wrong – the word porridge or porage has its roots in the French word ‘potage’ meaning soup and the Scots word ‘poray’ yet my relatives in Fife called it “parritch.”
Whatever the name, a thickly milled oats, or steel cut, is good. And apparently healthy.
But not as tasty as fried eggs and bacon 🙂 Perhaps some porage on the side. And on cold days when I need something to stick to my ribs.
Enjoy your porridge, and thank you to the company that was willing to ship me a box of it to my address in Greece!