A Brief History of Porridge


Porridge is just oats, but wine is just grapes. We are proud of our porridge, and we are proud that Britain is proud of its porridge. But porridge has been around for much longer than us. It’s been providing our people with a brilliant bowl of sustaining energy for thousands of years. It’s been trusted for this long and this thriving and sensual bowl should continue to glisten under the spotlight. It blows our pyjamas off, every time.


We go way back. Before the introduction of baking ovens and unleavened bread, porridge was one of the most important staples in the British diet – if not it’s greatest culinary achievement.

We like to think of it as our own, but a similar dish has also been enjoyed cross-culturally for thousands of years too. Originating from Northern Europe, it was traditionally mostly enjoyed savoury.

In terms of defining porridge, it boils down to gruel made with oats. It’s a mushy bowl of soaked grains used to pre-digest or release nutrients. Polenta, barley, buckwheat, millet or rye have been used as well as oats.


Until the early twentieth century, porridge was made with oatmeal (cut or ground dehulled oat seeds).

Since then, oats have been industrially steamed using a high-pressure roller, meaning they are thinner, part-cooked oats and so can cook in minutes. Porridge hasn’t always had an easy ride. It’s been slopped into horse troughs and prisoners bowls. Cheap and filling, not a glamorous winner to serve up on a first date. But the tables are turning and porridge is coming out on top.

It helps when you’re a nutritional powerhouse full of sustaining energy. Think a CV packed with antioxidants and a better balance of the good stuff like fats, carbohydrates, and protein than their other grain buddies. See you 11am munchies. You’re hired.

Despite its complex benefits, porridge is a simple food. The oats are made purely by stripping the outer husk of the oat grass, leaving the wholegrain oat. We now don’t just need it, we want it.


Pre-soaking your porridge overnight means you’re in for a more gentle and easy digestion ride. That means it does more good, more easily. Win win. For ultimate creamy texture, cook your oat slowly by simmering on low heat. If you’ve only ever made porridge with milk, try it with water. Pinch of sea salt? Compulsory. We big ourselves up, but it’s really quite simple.

If you’re more maximal than minimal, porridge oats are a wonderful base for nuts, fruits, seed and a blob of cream. Ultimately, You make it how you want it. This is what makes it good, its ability to be totally personal. Vegetables, herbs, spices, fruits, sweet, savoury, crunchy, creamy – whatever floats your oat. For more recipe ideas, visit here



Traditionally, it was considered respectful to eat porridge standing up, and superstition believed it must always be stirred clockwise to ward off evil spirits? All seem a little sorcerous? Even more so when the instrument (spurtle) used to stir the porridge was shaped suspiciously close to a wand.