Wednesday, August 1, 2012
How to Make Homemade Granola
Making your own granola is easy, tastes better than anything you can buy in the store and is less expensive. It took me about three batches to get this recipe perfect. Follow along below for step-by-step instructions and tips on making absolute fabulous granola.
Start with five cups rolled (old-fashioned) oats. The cheapest I have found are sold at Aldi's. There are four different kinds of oatmeal. Irish or Steel-Cut are oats in their most natural form, are coarse and chewy. They take about 30 minutes to cook. Rolled or Old-Fashioned oats are more processed and rolled thinner so they will cook faster, usually in about five minutes. They are also creamier. Quick cook oatmeal is rolled even thinner and cooks in about three minutes (for those of you who really can't wait the additional two minutes). Instant oatmeal is the most processed of all oatmeals, and is ready in well, an instant. For granola, we want Rolled or Old-Fashioned oats.
Next, add one cup wheat germ. Wheat germ comes from the small part of the wheat kernal that germinates (thus germ) to form wheat grass. Wheat germ has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor and contains more nutrients per ounce than any other vegetable or grain. Wheat germ contains 23 nutrients including A, B1, B3 and E and more potassium and iron than any other food. It also has more protein than many meats.
Now add one cup Flax Seed. I buy mine at Wal-Mart in the baking section. It's fairly cheap. Flax seed is the same plant linen cloth comes from. Flax seed is also has a nutty taste with a hint of spice. I add flax seed because it is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which help control cholestrol.
Add about a cup of nuts. I use almonds just because they are cheapest but you can use any kind. I used about one and half of these little packages.
Add two Tablespoons of cinnamon. Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of several trees of the cinnamomum genus which are native only to the island of Sri Lanka. About 90% of the world's cinnamon still comes from Sri Lanka.
Add two cups shredded coconut (one package). Technically, coconut is not a nut at all, it's a one-seeded drupe (a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed--others include peaches and olives).
Add one cup brown sugar. I don't know anything about brown sugar.
Stir all the dry ingredients together.
Next, measure one cup honey into a large measuring cup or bowl.
Add, one and half cups oil to the honey. I prefer olive oil but any oil will do. Extra-virgin olive oil is the purest, highest quality oil. Light olive oil is less pure and has a lighter flavor. "Light" means less flavor, not less calories.
Most oils are all-purpose and have a neutral flavor. Vegetable oil is a usually a blend of several oils including corn, palm, sunflower and soybean--mostly soybean.
Canola oil is made from rapeseed (a plant in the mustard family). Rapeseed oil was widely used in the eighteenth century as lamp oil but not as a food product due to it's high erucic acid content (45-50%). Erucic acid is a known toxin. Then, in the 1970's, the plant was genetically modified by some Canadian scientists to bring down the erucic acid content of the plant to around 2%. Canola stands for Canadian Oil, Low Acid. Some people use leftover canola oil in their oil lamps.
Heat the oil and honey together until blended. I usually just microwave the mixture for a couple of minutes in my large, glass measuring cup pictured above. Then, pour the mixture over the dry ingredients. Stir well.
The mixture will be pretty wet.
Spray a large pan with cooking spray. It needs to be at least an inch deep. This makes a lot of granola so you may need more than one pan.
Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place pan inside oven on a middle shelf. You want a low, slow heat.
You will need to stir the mixture every 20-25 minutes. The mixture will need to bake about 45 minutes or so.
Next, add one cup raisins, cranberries or any other dried fruit to the baked mixture. Raisins are best. Stir together. Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Total bake time is around an hour. The longer you bake the crunchier the granola. The mixture will look and feel a little wet or sticky still, it will harden as it cools. Let mixture stand until cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks. This granola is great alone or on yogurt or ice cream.