Somewhere between 2007 and 2011, I realised that granola had stopped being associated with lentil weaving and had become a stalwart of brunch menus across the land. It probably happened earlier than this, but I'm not particularly up on the food scene, as evidenced by my use of the phrase 'the food scene'.
I don't live in a cheap area of London. The nearest places to me that serve brunch charge £6 for granola, yoghurt and berries so I've never eaten it in a restaurant.
You would think that buying a box from the shops would be cheaper. Which it is, bowl for bowl. But the price of the good stuff is insane, when you consider that the basic ingredients are oats, nuts, dried or freeze-dried fruit.
So how do the premium brands get away with charging nearly £4 for 400 grams? Truly, it makes me want to punch all the stupid granola in its fancy foil bags. Well, when I decided to try and make my own granola at home, I realised why.
I looked at a few recipes for granola on the BBC website. They were all similar in their method, the only differences were the types of sugar used to bind the ingredients together and the ingredients themselves.
I decided to reproduce my favourite granola as closely as possible. It combines some cheaper nuts and seeds, like almonds and sesame seeds, with some more expensive ones, like pecans and linseed. It uses vegetable oil, maple syrup and honey to bind.
The mention of maple syrup, 125 grams no less, sent my purse into a bit of a nervous frenzy, the price per gram of this being at saffron-like levels. But the aim was to find out how much it would cost to produce it myself, so I bit the bullet and included it.
Making granola is really easy. It's exactly the same as making flapjacks, except you endeavour to make a crumble out of the mixture and scatter it out as one layer onto your baking trays, rather than pressing and compacting it into a tin and the cooking time wasn't excessive.
I ended up with just over a kilogram of granola. I did a little spreadsheet to find out how it compared in cost, gram for gram. Allowing a tiny bit of rounding up, my homemade version cost £7.55 per kilogram, compared to the shop bought version at £9.40 per kilo. My figure doesn't include electricity used or packaging, or any other overheads, of course.
I'm simultaneously delighted and disappointed to discover that making granola at home is super-easy, but it actually doesn't cost that much less than the store bought stuff. I now feel a bit guilty about wanting to punch cereal.
Will I make my own granola again? Yes, because it is so easy and quick to make and I can increase the quantity of the good stuff, meaning I won't end up fishing through a nearly empty granola bag, fishing out any remaining pistachios, so I don't just get a bowlful of oaty crumbs.
The recipe I used to guide my granola is from the Good Food website and can be found here. As long as you respect the ratios of wet to dry ingredients, you can exchange the fruit, nuts and seeds for whatever you like. In my case, I skipped the fruit almost altogether and increased the amount of nuts and seeds accordingly.
Ignore the advice that the granola keeps for a few weeks, it might go a little soft, but if you keep it in an airtight container, it will be good for at least twice that time.
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