Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bulk Granola Goodness!

I've been making my own granola this last few months.   I used to make it quite often, but for many years, we've just never had granola very often.  Over this last summer I started buying granola.  But it always seems like such a waste to buy it when rolled oats are so inexpensive and the granola process is so simple. 

After all these years, I've kind of forgotten how I used to do it.  So it's almost like I'm learning a new skill.  Plus I'm making it in my big blue enamel turkey roaster these days, and the ingredients I use have changed somewhat. 

Here's what I did today and it seems to be very good.  I think I'll do up a small batch with my gluten free oats for Joseph.  He was looking piningly at the last batch I made. 

Bulk granola
Yield: about 2 ½ gallons
Preheat oven to 350 °F 

30 c. oats
2 tbsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. cardamom
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Stir together in roaster

3 c. fat (I used 1 c butter, 1 c coconut oil, ½ olive oil, ½ c lard)
3-4 c sweeteners  (I used 1 ½ c. honey and 2 c sugar; or try maple syrup or a touch of molasses).

Stir together in saucepan over low heat until honey and oils are pourable and able to be mixed.
2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (I forgot to put this in today and it was still good; some recipes call for almond extract instead.)
Stir vanilla into sugar and fat mixture.
Stir very thoroughly into oat mixture, saving ¼ c or so to use on the nuts later. 

Bake, stirring every ten minutes, for 40 minutes (or for 15-20 minutes after heated through evenly).  Be sure as you mix to scrape the bottom and corners of the roaster well.  Those areas can build up a sugary layer that is prone to scorching.

8 c dried fruits and nuts (I used chopped pecans, dried cranberries, cherries, coconut, and raisins.  I didn't think it looked like I had enough nuts, so I also included about ½ c of almond meal.)

Stir nuts into reserved oil.  Then stir them and the dried fruit into granola. Cook another 15 minutes, stirring half way through.  

Note for this step:  Since melted sugar and fat doesn't combine very well, I was left with mostly an oily somewhat melted sugar. I was afraid it would cool into a candy before I was ready for it, so I stirred the nuts and almond meal into it and right away.  Each time I stirred the oat mixture, I stirred the sugary nuts, too, breaking it apart and crumbling it as it cooled.  The almond meal combined with the pecans and sugar to form sweetened nutty clusters.
Let cool completely, then package for use.  

  • If you don't have any large storage containers, some ideas are ice cream buckets, gallon jars, or zipping storage bags.  Or you can usually find some nice canisters or cookie jars at second hand stores.  
  • If you expect your granola to last longer than a couple of months, you might consider freezing some of it.  I had my last batch for a couple of months, and it was fine the whole time, but some recipes suggest only keeping it for a couple of weeks at room temperature. 
  • If you don't need this big a batch, you can easily cut it down, but the cooking times need to be adjusted.  
  • Most recipes recommend baking granola in thin layers on cookie sheets to get a crispier end product.  The roaster method does gets dried and toasty, but it is a slightly different texture than that done in thinner batches.

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