Food Bloggers visit the Flahavans factory in Kilmacthomas, County Waterford - David Clynch Photography

Flahavan’s reinvents the porridge oat

Think superfoods or buzz ingredients and chances are that porridge isn’t likely to be bothering curly kale, kimchi or foraged cauliflower on that hipster food list. Milled oats heated up with milk, or water for purists, and served in a splodge in a bowl. It’s a foodstuff without much discernible sex appeal or novelty value. Or at least it was. The health properties and versatility of the humble oat are being re-examined—porridge is evolving.


A porridge cafe has opened in Old Street after the owners took a trip to Scandinavia and noticed a trend for interesting porridge recipes and oat dishes. It serves a ‘healthy and sweet’ or ‘savoury and risotto’ set menu that changes each day with an eclectic mix of cooking styles and flavours. There’s also a World Porridge Making Championship in the Cairngorns with a Golden Spurtle awarded to one of the many entrants. Even Heston’s getting in on the act with his snail porridge—always has to go that one step further doesn’t he?

As with all buzz ingredients, provenance and old-fashioned production methods are a prerequisite. One brand with serious credentials in both is Flahavan’s, a family-run business that’s been producing oats since 1785. They invited WLL over for a tour around their factory in Kilmacthomas, southern Ireland as they launch their new #PerfectPorridge campaign.


Oat production probably isn’t a process that you’ve ever given much consideration to—they are just always there on the shelves. But it’s a serious business at Flahavan’s and the process is as stringent as it is traditional; I had to wear a beard net as John Flahavan gave us a tour around the factory.

First the oats are sourced from within a 50-mile radius of the factory. They are then brought in and sifted, cleaned and polished until they are ready for milling into pinhead oatmeal using large steel blades. This pinhead is then steam cooked in a giant furnace before being rolled into the oat flakes that we see in the finished product. Once dried and cooled they are packaged and sorted by whichever type they fit into—pinhead, rolled, jumbo rolled or oatmeal. And that’s just the basic oats; the full product line stretches a lot further.


A morning bowl of porridge is a traditional start to the day for many; there’s nothing quite as warming as a bowl of the stuff topped with a drizzle of honey or berries. And the microwave has added a level of convenience to the dish to bring us a quick, nourishing breakfast.

But the oat doesn’t stop there; in fact it hasn’t really even started. Mary Flahavan gave us a demo of this on our visit with a three-course meal with oats involved at each step; in the soup, the lasagne and a crumble topped with oats. Each dish was really good and an interesting take on classics. Flahavan’s also have a multitude of recipes that bring the unassuming grain into a whole new culinary realm. Porridge bread is delicious while oatmeal pancakes, a bircher and even an Oatsotto all add a different spin to something you probably only equate with breakfast.


It’s long been known that porridge can fill you up better than other breakfasts, provide slow release carbs for training days (or energy deficient ones!) and balance your blood sugar levels to stop that mid-morning croissant binge. But recent research also highlighted a bioactive compound, only present in oats, that could protect against cancer and heart disease—on-trend and super healthy.

If you’re already a porridge and oaty evangelist, converted in the ways of groats and pinhead oatmeal, then this won’t be much news to you. But for those on the fence it’s time to grab that packet languishing in the back of the cupboard and give the oat a culinary kickstart; head over to for some inspiration.

Now please excuse us, we’ve got some homemade flapjacks that need our attention.

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