Pairodox granola

This is not a recipe, because that would imply precise amounts, and one of the beauties of homemade granola is that it never has to be exactly the same twice. I’ll try to summarize with some proportions at the end, for those without enough experience to be sure of their judgment. Because it is time-consuming to bake and keeps very well, I like to make it in large quantities. Making a batch is a great way to spend a cool spring or fall afternoon, when the house is a little chilly and it is nice to have an excuse to hover around a warm oven.

Here is my method. I start with a trip to a store where I can by bulk quantities of the grains, seeds, nuts, and dried fruits I want for a batch. For grains, I start with a big bag of rolled oats (the slow-cooking or old-fashioned kind) and a couple of boxes of Uncle Sam’s original wheat flakes with flax seeds. I like Uncle Sam’s because the flakes are small, sturdy, hold up to all the stirring, and I don’t have to buy flax seeds separately. Rye flakes and soy nuts are also good, in smaller amounts.  For seeds, I usually include sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin. For nuts, I like sliced almonds and grated, unsweetened coconut. The dried fruit you choose is entirely up to you, because anything will be delicious, however it can run into money. If you are on a budget, stick with raisins and dried cranberries. If you like tropical fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, and banana are all great. I use homegrown and dried apples, cherries, peaches and strawberries when they are available. Although the total at the cash register can be a lot, if you price it out against a similar quantity of commercial granola you will still come out way ahead and have a better and healthier product.

When you are ready to put it all together, get a big pot (I use a canning kettle) and dump everything in except the dried fruit, in proportions that appeal to you. I sprinkle some non-fat dried milk over it to boost the protein content a bit.  Then mix up the “sauce” that holds it all together. This consists of canola oil and any combination of brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, and/or molasses. Maple syrup by itself is very delicate and not very sticky, so it makes a lightly sweetened and fine-grained granola. Honey by itself results in a granola that stays a bit soft and clumpy. Molasses is very assertive, and should be used in combination with honey or brown sugar unless you are a real fan. I get the best results in terms of texture by combining some brown sugar with maple syrup or honey, with a little molasses if I’m in the mood. Bring the “sauce” ingredients to a rolling boil in a saucepan, and then take off the heat and add other flavorings such as cinnamon or vanilla or a little almond extract (or not) as you like. Pour the liquid over the dry ingredients in a thin stream with one hand, while stirring it in with the other to make sure it is evenly distributed. If the result still seems a bit dry and powdery, make up a little more sauce. The result should be uniformly dampened and just a little clumpy. Spread a layer out in a shallow baking pan, leaving enough room in the pan to be able to stir it thoroughly without it spilling over, and bake it in a slow oven (around 300 degrees F.) Get a chair and your knitting or a good book and sit right by the stove, because you will need to watch it carefully and stir it every 10 – 15 minutes for the next hour or so. It scorches easily and quickly. If the phone rings or you get distracted until you are recalled by the smell of something burning (which happened a little bit ago while I was absorbed in writing this) don’t despair. If one batch is a bit dark around the edges, it will just add a slightly stronger and not at all objectionable “toasted” taste to the batch. When the batch is uniformly and noticeably darker in color than what you started with, it is done. It will still be soft and slightly sticky, but will harden and crispen as it cools. Dump it into another large container and start toasting the next batch. When it is all toasted and cooled, add the dried fruit (chop it up a bit first if the pieces are large). Stored in an air-tight container it will keep a long time. We’ve never managed to find out just how long, because it gets eaten pretty fast. It also freezes well.

For each 4 cups of oats, add any or all of the
following (quantities approximate, adjust
according to preference and availability).

  • 1 10 oz box of Uncle Sam’s Original
    whole wheat and flax seed cereal,
    or equivalent in wheat flakes
    and flax seeds
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds (unsalted, untoasted)
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • ½ cup soy nuts
  • ¼ cup non-fat dry milk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1/3  cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup or molasses or combination
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon or 1 teaspoon vanilla or ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-2 cups assorted dried fruit, chopped up if necessary. Enjoy!


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