When it comes to oats, the terminology used to describe the seed may get a little confusing. We are setting out to clear the air and help you use the best seed options for growing, sprouting, milling, and more! Some of the basic terms that need to be clarified are hull, hulless, hulled, whole, and groat.
*Note: While all oats are gluten-free, our oat seeds can not be assured celiac-safe as they may come in contact with the same surfaces that gluten-containing seeds contact during processing and packaging.
Types of Oats
Whole oat seeds are the most traditional of all the oat seed options. They are the most viable for planting as they have not experienced any process that would damage their ability to germinate and grow. These seeds have a protective outer coating called a hull. This protective outer coating is not preferred for culinary use. However, it is not harmful. The hull is simply an insoluble fiber that has no calories. Because the hull isn’t digestible for people, this seed is great for either planting or animal feed. While this seed can be sprouted, it is not recommended, as removing the hull after sprouting is quite cumbersome. Instead, grow as oat grass for juicing like you would wheatgrass. Or, use to make your own oat milk.
Oat groats are the whole oat seed that has gone through a process to remove the outer hull (protective husk). For this reason, oat groats are sometimes called “hulled” oats. During this process, the seed may be crushed or broken. When this happens, it becomes unusable for growing into a new plant or oat grass. Instead, these seeds are ideal for culinary use. They can be milled for flour, rolled, processed for oat milk, or eaten as cooked cereal. Oat groats are also used to make steel-cut oats. Steel-cut oats are groats that have been cut into 2-3 segments.
Hulless oat seeds are an entirely different variety of oats than our whole oat seeds. Hulless oats develop a thin and fragile hull that is commonly removed by the harvesting process. Thus, this seed is ideal for sprouting as it retains its viability for growth but lacks the problematic hull for culinary use. Whether you want to sprout, grow oat grass, mill for flour, cook for cereal, or make overnight oats, hulless seeds will be a great option for you.
Here you can view each seed when placed next to each other. Whole oats are visible with the protective hull. This causes them to appear a darker tan/beige color. After the hull has been removed, the groats appear smaller and may be chipped or crushed from processing. The hulless oat seeds have the lightest color and remain viable for growing as they are not damaged.
Comparing Oat Seeds
(Top - Groats, Middle - Whole, Bottom - Hulless)
Below are the results of our sprouting comparison test using the jar method. These are the results after about 5-6 days of sprouting.
Sprouted Whole Oats - Germination is observed, but delayed in comparison to the others as the roots must push through the protective hull.
Sprouted Oat Groats - Because the seeds were damaged no germination was observed.
Sprouted Hulless Oats - Good germination is observed throughout the jar.