Archive for August, 2012

Granola with commune-made ingredients

Friday, August 31st, 2012

by Irena

Here at Acorn, I generally don’t cook much.  I tend to specialize in a few recipes, and granola tops the list.  People compliment it a lot so I decided to make a post about it.  Lately I make about 7 gallons of it at a time, eyeballing almost all the ingredients.  I use ingredients from two other communes affiliated with us – nut butter from East Wind, and sorghum from Sandhill.  I use a 6-cup or 8-cup scoop and a big, deep Hobart mixing bowl.  Unlike most granola, mine has no extracted oils, just the oil in the nut butter.  Granola sticking to the pans has never been an issue for me.  It has no refined sugars and no honey; with sorghum as the only sweetener, I think with sorghum it’s easier to make sweet granola without making it too sweet.

My Ingredients

10-12 cups nuts (I count sunflower seeds, though I find them less nutty than other nuts.)

about 45 or 50 cups of oats

about 7 cups of sorghum syrup (a sweetener made from a the stalks of sorghum, a crop related to corn; we get ours from Sandhill Farm, an FEC community in Missouri)

about 7 cups of nut butter (this can be peanut, almond, and/ or cashew butter; we get ours from East Wind, another FEC community in Missouri.)

1 Tbsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp cinnamon

about 2 cups water

My Steps

  1. Pre-roast the nuts for 10-20 minutes at about 300 degrees.
  2. Put the sorghum, nut butter, water, and spices together in a pot over low heat.  For large amounts, I like to sift the spices through a tea strainer so they don’t clump.
  3. East Wind nut butter doesn’t have emulsifiers or such added to it, so it separates.  I break the nut butter up so until no chunks are larger than, say, an almond.  Stirring helps accomplish this, but I generally find it necessary to also find the biggest chunks and manually break them apart.  This can be the most laborious part of making granola.
  4. Mix the nuts with the oats.
  5. Make a depression in the oat-nut mix and pour ½ to ¾ of the liquid into it.
  6. Stir immediately and deeply, turning the bowl in order to get all the edges.  Continue stirring until all the oats you’re bringing up already have some liquid on them, that is, until none of them have that floury surface texture, and until all easily visible sorghum-nut-butter chunks have been broken up.
  7. Spoon the already-mixed granola onto an ungreased pan.  Leave the uncoated oats in the bowl.
  8. Pour the rest of the liquid into the oats.  Repeat step 6 (stirring to the bottom of the bowl) and step 7.
  9. Spread the granola evenly over your pans.  I use 3-4 large baking sheets.
  10. Bake at 300 degrees until surface begins to brown, turning the trays around halfway through or when the first edges begin to brown.  In Acorn’s convection oven, I bake the granola for a total of about about 50 minutes; I think most home ovens would take longer.

Some notes about this process

  1. The only essential ingredient is the oats.  All other ingredients can be replaced with something else.  All proportions can be changed according to your taste.
  2. It is important to pay attention to the ratios of oats to nuts to liquid ingredients.  Significant changes in these ratios will result in significant changes in the texture of the granola as well as the taste.  Large changes may result in granola bars or in very dry granola.
  3. The water is just to make sorghum and nut butter more stirrable so that they won’t burn while in the pot.

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