Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dehydrated Granola.

Last week, I happened to notice a bookmark and comment I left on a recipe more than a year ago. It's shouldn't be so surprising when time passes so quickly, but it always is. Little glimpses into my thought patterns from a while back are kind of strange. Who was that person who commented then? What was I eating and obsessing over? When the comment is left on a staple like granola, it isn't too hard to remember the reason why I bookmarked it - but it is easy to see why I forgot about it, since I only inherited a dehydrator somewhat recently.

Now a granola recipe from a blog entitled Roasting Rambler has to be great, right? And, it is - that's for sure. I actually made it without tweaking (the last photo on this post), well, I barely tweaked it, for the first time last week, all those months after I had forgotten that the idea of drying out a paste granola was absolutely brilliant. I wasn't disappointed either. It was super crunchy and delicious, my hand and both of my Kiddo's hands both made swift work of the rather small batch over the course of the week.

Yesterday after breakfast, I was hit by the urge to organize my spice cupboard. It's actually one of my favorite things about my kitchen, and contains a lot more than just spices. The top shelf appropriately holds my modest liquor cabinet. The next down, canning jars of bulk grains, nuts and seeds. Then, my shelves of spices: one shelf holds jars contained in a wooden filing box I found at a rummage, and another two baskets of miscellaneous must haves from Spice House wanderings (and things that I use in close proximity like extracts, brown sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch. The bottom shelf is for oils, molasses, honey, sugar jar.

In the late 40's when my house was built, I assume that having such a convenient nook for cooking and baking essentials was still prerequisite for the modern housewife. I like considering myself a modern housewife who appreciates it still. I do not like that it frequently needs going through, as I tend to toss things in there despite my constantly renewed vows that I will keep it organized and faced, beautiful to look at when the shuttered door swings open.

With the success of dehydrated granola still implanted, I consolidated my jars. I discovered dried dates that were almost brittle with age, dried figs that were surprisingly soft enough to tear in two, several cranberries that were past their eating-out-of-hand prime. Using the same proportions as the Roasting Rambler's original recipe, I concocted another dehydrated granola - excited that the possibilities for this were endless.

The base of the granola is dried fruit mixed with lemon juice and enough water to make it run easily through the food processor blade. I found both times I've made it that I didn't need the full amount of water, just add it until the mixture is homogeneous and moves freely. I also found that the double batch amount that I've listed below has no trouble being mixed in the food processor. If you would double my amounts listed, it's possibly you may run into some blending trouble depending on the age of your dried fruits...

Dehydrated Granola (original recipe from the Roasting Rambler, adapted)
  • 12 mixed dried fruit (I used about half dates, then figs and cranberries)
  • 14 oz. total nuts and/or seeds (I used a 12 oz. mixture of crispy almonds, walnuts and peanuts, and 2 oz. sesame seed)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 t. salt (you may wish to use a tad less)
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 oz. unsweetened coconut (I use a brand like this)
  • 1 oz. cacao nibs
In a food pro, pulse the nuts (I leave the sesame seeds out, since they are so small anyway) until they are a uniform consistency that you would prefer in your granola, about 15 one second pulses. Empty them into a large bowl.

Add dried fruit to food pro, and pulse to chop. Add the lemon juice, salt, cinnamon and vanilla, and run the processor to blend the mixture well. With the motor running, add the water through the top until the mixture is like a runny paste. (I'm imagining I will add cocoa powder to the mixture at this point sometime...)

Scrape the dried fruit paste into the bowl with the nuts and add in the sesame seeds (if you didn't add them to the nut mixture), the coconut and the cacao nibs. Stir well to combine.

Spread the mixture on two dehydrator trays lined with parchment paper. Try to spread it as thin and as even as possible, without worrying about it too much. Dehydrate (I used 147 degrees) for 8-12 hours, longer if it still isn't brittle when you check it.

Break into pieces and store in glass jars. I like to keep excess of all granola in the freezer if I have the space, since I feel that it stays crunchier - but it's not necessary I'm sure.

fruit paste.

the granola mixture prior to dehydration.

spread as thin as possible.

after dehydrating.

I got 2 1/2 quart jars full of dehydrated granola. I keep my dehydrator in the basement, and when I ran busily up and downstairs, trekking clean laundry to the clotheslines I kept peeking in to look at it. Laundry complete, I then forgot all about it until this morning, when the machine had turned itself off, and it was done: crunchy, brittle shards just waiting to be broken in my hands.

I want to more fully embrace my dehydrator this year. Since it came to live with me, I don't feel I've given it the usage it deserves. I have quite a lot of tart cherries on the way, and think I'll enter the world of fruit leathers as well as dried fruit. We made fruit leathers when I was a kid, but I don't think I've had one since. I'm fairly excited to puree something cherry and apricotish in the VitaMix to try out. Come Fall, I may even try candying my own cranberries, if I can get past the tradition of just making and then eating a whole batch of these instead.

It seems like I'm starting to feel like I can barely keep up. I remember often my Mom telling me that it felt like her 30's came in "clumps", the time just flew with the business of child raising, food prep and preservation, gardening and yard work. I like to think that I have unending stamina, that I can work until my hands positively bleed, sleep 3 hours and then get up and work some more. But today I'm tired. I slept on the couch this afternoon in full sight of a basket of unfolded laundry. I didn't do the lunch dishes until after 7 pm, after a nighttime library nature program where my son was transformed into the cutest ant ever. I refuse to admit that I need sleep, and I do - though now it's getting late and that nap is beginning to make me feel like I could go all night. I probably should since I have 4 pounds of dilly beans to pickle...

I suppose they will still be there in the morning, when a handful of this new granola makes itself my breakfast with a few tart cherries that I had to buy from a favorite orchard owner today. It could be disheartening to think of all the things I've forgotten out there that are likely as great as this granola. It's disheartening to think that my memory isn't quite as sharp as it used to be. For now, I remember what I need when I need it I guess.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Communication is a good thing, most of the time...