May 10, 2011

Homemade Granola & Yogurt

I have always loved vanilla yogurt with granola. Storebought is good. Homemade is better. Here are my standby recipes and the background stories on how I came to make them.

Homemade Granola

I've made granola for a while. Initially I started making granola to save money on cold cereal. But as the kids got older & coveted all those colorful boxes of sugary cereal, I caved to the ease of putting a cereal box in my cart instead of making granola at home. But really, making granola is pretty easy and the cost difference is significant, not to mention the significant health benefits.

This recipe I found in an old Mennonite cookbook. I love it because you determine what to put in it in the proportions that you want. You can use what you have on hand. You can use low cost ingredients or high cost ingredients. You can be organic - or not. You can add a certain healthy grain that your kids wouldn't get otherwise. You determine the outcome and benefits of this recipe.

Basic Granola Recipe:
  • 7 cups combination of dry ingredients (with at least 3 c. being rolled oats)
  • 1 cup combination of wet ingredients
  • additional extras: dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc. 

Preheat oven to 300^F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl, then pour into dry ingredients. Mix well until all the dry ingredients are coated with the wet.

Spread mixture in a thin layer over the bottom of a greased baking sheet or baking dishes. The total baking time will vary, but will be approximately 45-60 minutes. Every 10 minutes or so, take the granola out of the oven, stir it around to make sure it's evenly baking. Continue baking and stirring until the mixture is a nice golden brown. Once it's done, break up the large chunks and let it cool. At this point you can the dried fruit or chocolate chips if you wish. Enjoy!

Some ideas for dry ingredients:
rolled oats
chopped nuts
whole wheat flour
flax seed
sunflower seeds
flaked coconut
dried cereal
corn meal
anything you can think of!

Some ideas for wet ingredients:
peanut butter
brown sugar dissolved in water
maple syrup
anything you like!

The proportions of the wet ingredients will affect your granola, making it more or less crunchy depending on what you use. (Remember science class where we learned that sugar likes to burn?) It's one big experiment. Take notes on the proportions that you used so that you can repeat it if you like the way it turned out (or not repeat it if you don't!).

Homemade Yogurt

I love yogurt. My kids love yogurt. My sweetheart loves yogurt. (I suspect my cat loves yogurt, too.) I spend a lot of money on little plastic tubs of yogurt. So when I recently read an article on making your own yogurt, what caught my attention was that you could make yogurt without a yogurt maker. Over the years I've spent money on contraptions to help me save money or to make healthier [you name it]. But all those contraptions are now sitting a basement storage shelf never to see the light of day - if they haven't already been donated to a worthy cause. I'm pretty sure that I never recouped the money I spent on those gadgets.

I was so happy to find that you don't have to go out and spend money on a yogurt maker to clutter your counter and later your basement shelf. You can make it on your stove and in your Coleman cooler! Here's how:

Plain Yogurt Recipe:

  • 1 quart milk
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • candy thermometer (my candy thermometer broke, so I used my meat thermometer & it worked just fine.)
  • quart jar
  • a small cooler to put jar into

On the stove top, in a pan, heat milk to 180^F, stirring occassionally. Take it off heat and let cool to 110^F. Meanwhile, put 2 T. plain yogurt into jar. Once milk has cooled to 110^F, put a little bit of milk in the bottom of the jar with the yogurt and swirl around to mix. Then pour the rest of the milk in the jar. Close the lid and put in a cooler filled with hot water (it needs to stay warm to ferment properly). It will take 8 hours for the yogurt culture to work it's way through the entire batch. Refridgerate to stop the fermentation process.

This yogurt is runnier than store bought yogurt. You can strain off the whey (the yellowish liquid) through a papertowel or cheesecloth if you wish. This article is useful to learn the science behind making yogurt and also suggests some things to add to make it thicker as well as explains why sometimes it tastes sourer than other times.

Of course you can add anything you like to your plain yogurt to flavor it. For vanilla yogurt, add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and some brown sugar to a quart of freshly made plain yogurt. As my picky eater, Sarah, says: "Delicious!"

Do you make granola or yogurt? What do you like to add to your granola or yogurt?
If you haven't ever made it, I hope this will encourage you by how easy it is. Let me know if you try it and how it goes! I'd love to know. 

1 comment:

  1. I had a yogurt contraption that disappointed me, so we gave it away. Since then I buy a big tub of plain yogurt at Costco. But trying this recipe is tempting. . . so glad you shared! Thanks:)


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