That gift got me thinking all year about making my own granola, and now that Christmas is right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to try it.
What is granola? Granola is a breakfast or snack food consisting of oats, nuts and honey. Raisins, dried fruits and dates are sometimes added. Some even have puffed rice. The granola is baked until crisp.
Besides serving as a breakfast and snack food, granola is often eaten while hiking, camping or backpacking because it is lightweight, high in calories and easy to store.
I searched websites for recipes, combining parts of a recipe here and there. I also added or removed ingredients and increased / decreased amounts of ingredients according to comments from cooks who have tried the recipes. Comments under a recipe are sometimes some of the best tips!
I have always been somewhat fond of cranberries, but I fell in love with them after taking a museum tour at The Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center in northern Wisconsin.
Wisconsin cranberry growers annually harvest enough cranberries to supply every man, woman and child in the world with approximately 26 cranberries each. In 2004, the cranberry became Wisconsin’s official state fruit.
We now use cranberries on our salads, in cookies, made into a sauce to put over chicken and pork and as a snack straight out of the bag.
Native American Indians had a practice of grinding up cranberries and using the paste to fight wound infections.
When the pilgrims first arrived in the New World, they too found the vibrant red bogs of the indigenous cranberry. Like the Native Americans, they came to think of cranberries as medicine, says Kathleen Wall, culinary historian at Plymouth Plantation.
Pilgrims and other early settlers ate the berries to fight off scurvy, unaware that it was the vitamin C inside that made the berries good medicine.
Cranberries are not only delicious but also very nutritious. According to The Cranberry Institute, recent scientific research shows that cranberries and cranberry products contain significant amounts of antioxidants and other phytonutrients that may help protect against heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
I used Ocean Spray Craisins for my granola.
This cranberry nut granola recipe turned out delicious!
Please make sure to read the recipe before beginning. And watch the granola carefully while baking so it does not burn. Turn only once about halfway through, do not over stir.
The granola should be a rich golden brown, like pancake color. This granola will set up and harden as it cools and will clump together.
Here is the recipe for the Granola I made:
8 - 10 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup of chopped pecans
2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 250 to 300 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment (may stick on aluminum foil)
Combine the oats, sunflower seeds, cranberries and nuts in a large bowl. Set aside.
Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat.
Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, and then stir slightly. Do not over stir. Rotate baking sheets for even cooking if need be. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or crispy and toasted.
Granola should be a rich golden brown, a pancake color.
Watch carefully so it does not burn!
Remember granola will harden and clump as it cools.
After granola has cooled, break into desired clump size and store in airtight containers. I used Ball canning jars.
1 cup of wheat germ
1 cup of oat bran
1 cup of almonds or any other nuts
1 cup of raisins
PRINT THIS RECIPE
For gifts, put desired amounts into sealable baggies then place into gift bags or place desired amounts into canning jars and decorate.
Many have nut allergies, so I made labels with ingredients listed and attached them to the gift bags. The penguin is not my favorite Christmas character, but the bags were 75% off last year, so will do.
May the joy and peace of Christmas be with you now and throughout the New Year.
Granola, The Origin and History
The Common Oat, Information
A Brief History of the Cranberry