Five Things You Need to Make Great Granola

Homemade granola requires just a few basic ingredients and a little baking time.

Put some life into your breakfast by digging into a bowl of homemade granola you can make yourself. You can find dozens of recipes online, but the basic essentials that follow will have you cranking out great-tasting granola in no time. This hearty cereal takes almost no time to prepare and you can add your own twist to any recipe by experimenting by adding different types of dried fruits and nuts, a touch of cinnamon or a sprinkle of shredded coconut flakes. Here’s what you need to get started.

These kiln-toasted rolled oats are top quality, 100% whole grain, and a perfect base for homemade granola. Bob’s Red Mill

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Rolled oats are the foundational ingredient in granola. They are actually made from “oat groats,” which are the hulled kernel of the cereal grain. This includes the bran and of the grain. The reason they’re called “rolled” oats is that they are steamed and flattened into flakes using large commercial presses. Since they are partially cooked, rolled oats take less time to cook than “steel-cut oats,” which are uncooked and take a much longer time to prepare. Rolled oats are an excellent source of fiber and protein, and they’re loaded with beneficial antioxidants. Buying in bulk quantities offers cost savings and you can store rolled oats for extended periods so long as they are kept dry. If possible, check the expiration date on the package to ensure the oats you’re buying are fresh.

These premium baking sheets are made of pure aluminum, so they will never rust and they produce evenly-browned baked goods every time. Nordic Ware

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You might not think that the type of baking sheet matters, but it does. To bake granola properly, you want to spread it out evenly across the broad surface of the baking sheet. Using sheets that provide even heat distribution is key. Baking sheets made of pure aluminum provide great heat conductivity and they will never rust. When shopping for baking sheets, make sure you buy sheets that are two inches narrower and shorter than the interior dimensions of your oven. This will ensure proper heat distribution. Heavy-gauge sheets will not bend or warp. For baking granola, sheets with a slight rim will prevent ingredients from sliding off the sheet onto the floor of the oven and making a mess. Shiny aluminum or stainless sheets are preferred as they tend to brown baked goods better.

This premium, unpasteurized honey from New Zealand will take your favorite foods to the next level. Wedderspoon

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The key to making great baked goods, like granola, is not to skimp on the ingredients. Honey is no exception. Water content is a best way to identify the most high-quality honeys, so look for those that have a water content of 18% or less. While all honeys will work well in baking, they do vary by taste and color depending on their source. Orange-blossom honeys lend a slight citrus flavor while clover honeys have a mild, sweet taste that works well in recipes of all kinds. Floral honeys are darker and add a rich, sweet flavor. Try a few different types to see which ones you prefer. Honey doesn’t need to be refrigerated. By storing in an airtight container in a dark kitchen cupboard away from a heat, your honey will last for months.

Nutrient-dense almonds add a wonderful crunch and nutty taste to granola. Wild Soil

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You can drive yourself literally “nuts” trying to figure out which almonds are best for baking, so here are a few tips. First, choose almonds that are raw and unsalted. To avoid any GMO-based oils that are used for roasting and flavoring, choose almonds that are certified “organic.” Finally, while buying in large quantities may offer cost savings, almonds that are shelled won’t last as long as those that are unprocessed, so consider buying slightly smaller qualities in sealed bags to retain freshness. If you don’t like almonds, try using walnuts, pumpkin seeds, or unsalted cashews.

Soft and chewy with a wonderful caramel flavor, Medjool dates are grown in California on organic farms. Terrasoul Superfoods

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Dates have been grown in the Middle East for centuries and are one of the sweetest fruits on earth. There are many varieties of dates worldwide, but the most common types of dates in the U.S. are Medjool and Deglet Noor. Medjool dates are fairly large in size with a sweet taste and moist texture that is perfect for mixing into fresh-baked granola. Their color can range from range from brown to black. Deglet Noor dates are more elongated and have a slightly nutlike flavor. They tend to be more firm and drier than the Medjool variety and have an amber color. Both varieties will work in granola, but if you prefer sweeter taste, so with Medjool dates. Placing dates in an airtight container and storing in the refrigerator will prolong freshness, however, their taste will diminish over time. This is why it is best to use dates within 30 days of purchase. If you don’t like dates, substitute dried apricots, cherries, cranberries, or figs. The choices are practically endless.