Sunday, October 14, 2012

Granola - It Doesn't Have to Be Store Bought

Part of being frugal and eco-friendly is finding ways to avoid boxed, premade items.  Some things are plain difficult - chocolate, for instance.  Yes, I'm sure I could source cocoa beans, learn how to turn those beans into a substance that I could use to make edible chocolate items ... but really?  I think if my only choice was to make it myself or do without I might have to learn to live without chocolate - and that would be a tragedy ;)

I'm slowly building a repertoire of recipes, crafts, and ideas that are both frugal and eco-friendly.  One recipe that I've been doing for quite some time now is Granola.  I started with a recipe I found on The Frugal Girl blog.  I never completely followed the recipe, and learned along the way that granola is one of those very forgiving foods that you can tweak to your hearts content.

Go to the link above if you want the original recipe, otherwise, here's my version:

West Coast Granola

  • --Dry Ingredients--
  • Oatmeal/Grains - 6 cups total
  • Nuts and seeds - 1 or more cups
  • Dried Fruit - 1 or more cups
  • --Wet Ingredients--
  • Oil - 1/2 cup
  • Honey - 1/2 cup
  • Brown Sugar - 1/4 cup, loosely packed
  • Vanilla Extract - 1 tablespoon
1.  Get out all the ingredients you plan to use.  For the oatmeal, I tend to use a mix of 4 cups regular quick (not instant) oatmeal and 2 cups of a more exotic flake grain - right now I'm using rye flakes.  Cut up anything that needs cutting - perhaps you have whole nuts or dried fruit that are fairly large.  Try to make everything somewhat uniform - you don't want whole brazil nuts next to tiny currants - cut up the brazil nuts.  You might have noticed that for the nuts/seeds and dried fruit I said 1 or more cups - add the amount you want.  This isn't the store-bought granola where you are lucky to get one sliver of almond every three bites - you can have tons of almonds in every bite if you like!

SOME IDEAS FOR GRAINS, NUTS, SEEDS and DRIED FRUITS:  Oatmeal, Rye Flakes, Quinoa Flakes, Flaxseed, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Pistachios, Walnuts, Coconut Flakes, Raisins, Dates, Prunes, Craisins, Dried Mango ... the list goes on.  Pick what you like - try those that add colour, flavour, texture, and good nutrients.

2.  Preheat your oven to 300 F degrees.  I use my convection setting at this temperature and it works fine.  Make sure you have two racks in your oven - one at mid-point and one about 2-3 inches lower.  Get out two large cookie sheets - preferrably with good raised edges.  Put aside - you'll need them in a few minutes.

3.  Measure your oatmeal/grain, and nuts and seeds into a large bowl.

4.  Next, get out a medium pan.  Measure the oil into this pan and without rinsing out the measuring cup measure and add your honey.  The oil residues will help prevent the honey from sticking to the measuring cup.  Add the brown sugar.  Now stir constantly - you want the brown sugar to melt and the ingredients to come together somewhat.  Once this is achieved, remove the pan from the heat and add your vanilla extract.  Stir to combine.

5.  Pour your wet ingredients over your dry ingredients.  Stir to coat everything fairly evenly.  You'll think there isn't enough to cover all your dry ingredients - don't worry, there is enough.  It's meant to be a fairly light coating.  To give just a little sweetness, but not too much; and the oil helps to bake the ingredients without making everything feel greasy.

6.  Now divide this mixture between your two cookie sheets.  Make sure the mixture is evenly spread out so that the heat of the oven can do it's work properly.

7.  Place both cookie sheets in  the oven - each on it's own rack.  Set your timer for 15 minutes.  Clean up whatever needs to be cleaned up.  Measure out your dried fruits - you'll need them just before you package up your granola.

8.  After 15 minutes take both sheets out.  Take a few minutes to stir the mixture around.  Then put the sheets back in the oven, switching locations.  Another 8 minutes.  You're looking for a slightly golden granola colour.  Not too dark or it might taste bitter, but at the point where you think you're eyes are playing tricks on you because you're not certain it's achieved that golden hue.  Take the sheets out of the oven.

9.  Let the mixture cool completely in the sheets.  Over night is fine.  Just before you are ready to package your granola add your dried fruit.  Stir it in so it's spread throughout.  Now you can store your granola in whatever container you have that seals nicely.  I've used those large 1.9 litre canning jars from Canadian Tire and the Montana Jars that also come from Canadian Tires offered in a variety of sizes.  Both work great and look kind of fancy.

That's it.  It might sound like a lot of work.  It really isn't.  It takes me, from start to finish, approximately 35-40 minutes.  It makes A LOT of granola.  For a fraction of the price of store-bought granola.  Enough to gift some away - if you have any left!

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea! Love your recipe and you are right about the much granola for much less than the store-bought kind!