Unlike some DIY food projects (making sourdough or yogurt or kimchi), making granola isn’t a long or complex process. And you can boast you made your own. You could even share your creation with others (jars of homemade granola are lovely as gifts). I haven’t quite managed to do that yet -- my family eats all the granola I make pretty much as fast as I can make it! We eat it at breakfast with almond milk, regular milk, or yogurt. Some folks save it for dessert or use it as a topping for ice cream. And as a snack, it’s just plain addictive. Portion control can be hard when you make something that tastes so good.
Why make your own granola? After all, store shelves are full of bags and boxes of the stuff. There are many excellent brands to buy, like Early Bird (try making the Farmhand’s Choice), Viki’s, and 18 Rabbits. The granola scene is ever-growing. If you make your own, you can customize it. If you love sunflower seeds, be extra generous with them in your very own granola. If you love almonds and pecans, use them both in the same batch. Crystallized ginger your thing? Well, you get the idea. Also, you get to control the fat and calories and the level and type of sweetness.
Although granola is baked, this is not a project you need any kind of baking skills for, nor any special equipment. It’s really about mixing and crisping -- and not eating too much of it while you are making it.
The (Easy) Process
Most recipes call for mixing oats and nuts and seeds in a large bowl. Then drizzling the oat-nut mixture with olive or canola oil (approximately ½ cup for every 3 cups of oats/dry ingredients), and sweetening with ½ cup honey or maple syrup per every 3 cups of oats (or to taste) -- and seasoning with salt to bring out all the flavors.
The sticky mixture is spread on rimmed baking sheets and baked at approximately 300 degrees F until toasted and darkened; this can take as long as 50 minutes. It depends on the amount of granola on the tray and the amount of oil and sweetener coating the mixture. Stirring is necessary after 15 minutes or so to prevent some of the mixture getting very toasted and other parts being hardly toasted at all. Another stir after another 15 minutes, then checking and stirring the granola more regularly as it nears doneness.
Let it cool completely, then stir in the dried fruit. (This is also when you’d stir in chocolate chips or chunks if you were decadent enough to be adding them.)
Granola can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to two weeks, or in the freezer up to three months.
Cereal Is So Last Century
Granola first appeared as “granula,” a health-giving cereal made from brittle graham cakes that had to be soaked overnight in milk to become palatable. James Caleb Jackson, the reforming doctor who invented it in 1863, sued John Harvey Kellogg, another doctor, when Kellogg started to make granula with wheat flour, oatmeal, and cornmeal. Kellogg called his creation "granola," but it soon lost out to his other invention, the cereal flake. Granola didn’t make a resurgence until the hippie era brought the focus to whole foods. As cereal sales slump and granola's popularity soars, the cereal giants are feeling threatened. Kellogg is fighting back by -- making granola again. It plans to introduce its own artificial additive-free granola soon.
Let Eat Clean host Shira Bocar show you how to make one of our favorite granolas: