I admit to loving a good granola, generally over plain yogurt. But many I have purchased and tried are simply not to my taste, either too sweet or with too many added overpowering flavors — sometimes, both! Also they often contain too many dry fruit that are not up to par.
The solution? make your own.
Remarkably simple as it turns out with about 5 minutes of active time, and of course, fresher and exactly as I like it. And – it never hurts – cheaper than store bought. Since I generally have on hand all the ingredient for it, it only takes just a little over an hour to make a batch: 5 minutes to mix, 30 minutes to bake, 30 minute to cool… and it’s the best granola you can ever have. Perfectly crunchy, lightly sweetened with the complex flavor of good honey, and utterly delicious!
I use basic proportions to make my granola, with the exact ingredients changing as fancy strikes me (and what’s in my pantry): by volume, I mix 3 part rolled oats, 1 part unsalted nuts, 1 part seeds, 1/2 part honey and 3 tablespoons each melted butter and extra-virgin olive oil. Sometimes the nuts might be a mix of slivered almonds, chopped pecan and pistachio. Another time it might be chopped walnut, hazelnut and dry unsweetened coconut. If you like peanuts or cashews, go for them – just be sure to chop them first in small even size bits. As far as seeds, be sure to use unsalted raw seeds: sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), flax or sesame if you like them. And it’s far from being the end of the world, if sometimes I have less nuts and more seeds. It’s fun! Play with it.
Buy the ingredients in bulk, store them properly and make a few cups as needed as the granola is best eaten within a few days. More than 10 days, store it in the freezer.
Since I despise cloying-sweet granola, I prepare mine using only some of our own honey. If I were in maple country, I’d use maple syrup. I don’t add dry fruit either (unsweetened dry fruit is not always easy to find), preferring fresh or home-canned fruit if I use any. But if you want dry fruit, add it only after the mixture has cooled. Small berries like raisins or dried blueberries can stay whole; everything else should be chopped (dates, apricots, cranberries, cherries etc). if I were to add any, I would use tart cherries or cranberries for their sweet/tart balance.
Similarly, you want chocolate chips? go for it but add them after all ingredients have cooled. You like cinnamon? vanilla? you know what to do…. The important thing is to realize how simple it is to make granola… and how easy it is to customize it to your taste.
One critical step is to watch the granola so it does not burn. Better to start at too low a temperature and increase it as needed. 325F (165C) works in my oven, although, I generally turn the oven on to 350F (175C) for a few minutes for extra crunchiness.. at the end. But do not walk away: it’s easy to burn granola especially if using honey.
Homemade granola keeps well at room temperature for only a few days. Maybe 10? More than that, freeze it. Although you may not have any left after 10 days. In fact, mine is generally short by 1/2 a cup before I even store it. It’s hard to resist but still slightly warm and so fragrant.
I eat granola with yogurt (but I just don”t munch on it) – much prefer it than with milk
…. and granola is so much fun in layered parfaits with fresh fruit and plain whole-milk yogurt or Greek yogurt. A dynamite way to start the day!
Just Right Homemade Granola
Yields about 6-7 cups/ 775 g granola
- 3 heaping cups (3/4 lb /350 g) of rolled oats
- 1 cup (1/4 lb /130 g) of mixed unsalted nuts, cut in small even pieces or slivered. I generally use chopped pecan, slivered almonds and either pistachio or chopped hazelnuts
- 1 cup (1/4 lb / 130 g) unsalted raw seeds. I generally use sunflower and/or pepitas
- 180 g liquid honey/ generous 1/2 cup (heat in a hot water bath to liquify as needed). Choose mild floral honey.
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) melted salted butter
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl, making sure the honey and fats are thoroughly dispersed, coating the oat/seeds/nuts glossy.
- Spread on a rimmed baking sheet (13″ x 17″) lined with parchment paper (use parchment paper – otherwise the granola will be stuck to the pan once cooled.
- Bake at 325 for 30 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 10 minutes (do not skip the stirring). Increase the temperature to 350 in the last few minutes if you’d like but don’t let your granola burn.
- The granola is soft as it comes out of the oven; let cool thoroughly in the pan: it will crisp. Stir occasionally to as not to have a huge solid mass, breaking large clumps if you wish. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 10 days, or freeze for longer storage.
PS – don’t ask me why the final volume is greater than the volume of the ingredients. I can only guess that as the oats crisp, they become stiffer and don’t settle as much.