Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Oatmeal Woes: Scorching Milk

I've received three comments in the past month about milk scorching while cooking oatmeal--oh no! Although this is not something I experience regularly, it has happened to me a handful of times in the past few years. Many different factors cause scorching, and often, it's a combination of two or more of these factors; however, I'm going to treat each factor as if it's acting on its own and how to fix it.

Factor #1 - Using Cow's Milk

The only times I've truly scorched my milk was back when I used cow's milk. Cow's milk scorches unannoyingly fast, especially when you're used to using almond or soy milk.

  1. Turn the heat down (never more than a simmer) and stir frequently.
  2. Switch to a nondairy milk.
  3. Cook the oats in water and stir in the milk at the end (when serving).
Factor #2 - Using Low-Quality Cookware

No judgment, I promise! When I moved into my first apartment during college, my mom bought us a "good enough for now" set of pots and pans from Walmart. To put this into perspective, it was about 6 pots and pans...for $20. They were incredibly thin and would burn the bottom of everything. Similarly, when I moved to Newark, my roommate used stainless steel cookware, and they were so hot that they would boil on low. Oatmeal in that environment doesn't stand a chance.

  1. Turn the heat down (never more than a simmer) and stir frequently
  2. Invest in one sturdy, nonstick saucepan if your budget allows it. :)
Factor #3 - Using a Gas Stove

I learned how to make oatmeal on an electric stove, which had much more controlled heat. When I moved to Newark and switched to a gas stove, I was shocked by how different it was. At medium heat, my almond milk would be at a roaring boil in just a minute or two. On the other hand, when I returned to my parents' house (who have a glass-top stove), it would take almost five minutes for the almond milk to even simmer. In other words, the stove you're using makes a massive difference.

  1. Turn the heat down (never more than a simmer) and stir frequently.
  2. Avoid low-quality and stainless steel pots and pans.
Factor #4 - Overcooking

We've all done it. You walked away from the stove, spent too much time picking today's outfit or doing your hair, and came back to a dried up oatmeal that's burnt at the bottom.

  1. Turn the heat down (never more than a simmer) and stir frequently.
  2. Don't leave your oatmeal for more than a minute. :)

**You can also find hundreds of other oatmeal recipes (as well as tons of other meatless recipes) on my Pinterest account!  You can also like The Oatmeal Artist on Facebook. Thanks!


  1. Yay a full post addressing my number one setback while making them oats! (I was one of the three waving you in for help haha.) I see that turning down the heat is a must. I'm also going to try stirring the milk in the end as you suggested but do you think that will compromise the flavor?

  2. One way to preventing scorching, albeit a hassle = stir like mad!!!

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  4. I have to admit, I think a gas stove is MUCH easier to control than an electric one! When I used to use an electric stove it would bug the heck out of me that it didn't stay at a constant temperature - you know what I'm talking about; the burner gets red, then "dims out", then red again, etc. Now, with gas (and better cookware!) I can control the heat and just cook on a low temperature.

  5. What kind of fruit is that in the photo? It looks delicious!!


    1. They're black figs - and ARE so so delicious!


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