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Harraways oats celebrates 150 years in business

Harraways oats celebrates 150 years in business

Harraways oats celebrates 150 years in business

Deep in the South Island, where the rolling countryside sprawls as far as the eye can see, lie the oat fields that have been home to Harraway & Sons Ltd for 150 years. It’s the heavy soil, high summer rainfall and long growing season that make Southland and Otago ideal for growing oats – conditions that Henry Harraway, his wife Catherine and their 21 children put to good use when creating their eponymous – and now iconic – oat manufacturing company all those years ago.

Owned by the Hudson family now for the past 70 years, technological advances and modern machinery have replaced the combination of horse power, manual labour and steam engines of the earlier generations, but the passion for growing and harvesting this Kiwi pantry staple remains the same.

These days a paddock can be ploughed in half a day – a stark contrast compared to the fortnight’s worth this would have taken back in the 1940s. Thanks to selective breeding, more robust, less top-heavy plants make harvesting more viable and each year, thousands of new breeding lines are planted to ensure only the highest quality oats make it onto our supermarket shelves. These plants are checked individually by hand to ensure disease resistance, good yield and strength for easy harvest.

“Modern machinery has replaced the combination of horse power, manual labour and steam engines of the earlier generations”

As each crop comes to harvest, the farmers walk the fields looking for an oat that’s well-filled and with good colour, insuring there’s no discolouration in the final product. The integrity of the soil structure is also important, so many of the farmers contracting to Harraways won’t grow any more than four or five cereal crops in a row before the land goes back to pasture for anywhere between five and 10 years. With many of these farms also being family-run operations, it’s a long-term vision of excellence and a strong sense of stewardship that goes in to every aspect of production.

Along with rolled oats, steel-cut oats, muesli and oat singles, Harraways also produces an organic offering of oats and muesli, certified by the BioGro NZ Organic Standard. These oats are produced without any use of agricultural chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, growth regulators, or colour and flavour enhancers. Whether or not you choose organic, oats offer a number of health benefits being low GI and packed full of fibre. One 45g serving of porridge provides adult females with 17 percent and males with 14 percent of their recommended daily fibre intake.

Ever wondered exactly how oats go from the field to the supermarket shelves? Take a look at how the process works in this easy diagram (below), and find out more about Harraways at harraways.co.nz.

9 steps to Harraway’s rolled oats

1. Cleaning and sizing
Once harvested and stored in silos, oats are processed through vibrating screens to extract any foreign material.

2. Grading
Oats are sized by width and length prior to hulling.

3. Dehulling
The outer hull and inner oat groat are separated in a machine using centrifugal acceleration.

4. Kilning
The oat groats then pass through a dry heat treatment.

5. Cutting
The oats are cut into smaller fractions to enable the rolling process to produce a range of flake thicknesses.

6. Cooking
Cut groats are steam-cooked at around 100C to increase moisture content and elasticity.

7. Flaking
Groats pass between two large rolls to become rolled oats.

8. Drying
The flakes are then dried to around 11 percent moisture.

9. Packing
Oats are packed on automatic packing machines ready to be sold.

Harraways is New Zealand’s only oat mill and is locally owned and operated. The company was established in 1867 by Henry Harraway and is located on its orginal site in Green Island, Dunedin.

Harraways

HarrawaysFind out more about Harraways at harraways.co.nz.

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