Soaked “Sourdough” Granola

Granola is not exactly fermented, so what’s it doing on this site? Fermentation can be used as a change agent to transform food to our benefit. Coffee and chocolate are other important examples where fermentation is responsible for creating them as we know them. In this case, both the seeds (nuts) and the grains (oats) are soaked, a step on the road to sprouting or fermentation. (This technique is also used to prepare bona fide porridge.)

Soaking grains in an acidic solution actually begins the fermentation process, which helps to reduce phytic acid, a naturally occurring substance found in cereal grains. Phytic acid regulates the release of minerals needed by the seed as it sprouts. If foragers (like us) eat the seeds before they sprout (or are soaked), the phytic acid blocks the absorption of the other minerals, preventing them from being bioavailable to us. By reducing or removing the phytic acid through soaking/sprouting, we get more nutrients from the same grain as in its dry form. When properly prepared, granola CAN be a nutritious on the go snack.

Canola Oil? Soy Flour? NO THANK YOU!

Not all granola is created equal. Look at the ingredients list on this leading brand. Second ingredient is sugar? Soy flour? Soy lecithin? Canola oil? C’mon, we can do better than that. A LOT better. And do you think any commercially prepared grains or nuts are soaked? Not bloody likely! In an industry where time is money, soaking just doesn’t make sense. Take back control of your diets, Fermenters!

I played around with the soak time, and found that you can essentially create a full-on sourdough-style granola by letting it soak a few days. Note the “bubbly” texture of the granola after a four-day rest:

Note the texture difference after a four-day soak

Admittedly, this recipe can take a lot of prep, especially if you soak your own nuts. I usually time the preparation of this recipe when I happen to have a fully stocked pantry of soaked nuts. And I make a double-batch (it freezes well).

Okay, maybe that’s a large serving. Try it with kefir (click for kefir recipe)!

Also, I recently discovered the amazingness of the food dehydrator and have incorporated it into the recipe. It can speed up the granola-making process and is very energy efficient. (See dehydrator trick video below!)

Soaked Granola
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Yield: 4 lbs./2kg
 
Ingredients
"Starter" Ingredients
  • 3 cups/750ml by volume, 10.5 oz/300g by weight organic whole, rolled oats, or other whole grains (avoid "instant" which has been partially cooked, or any "flavored" varieties)
  • ½ cup/125 ml by volume, 2.7 oz/75g by weight spelt, rye or whole wheat flour (sprouted if possible)
  • 2 cups/500 ml filtered water
  • 3 fluid ounces/90 ml yogurt, kefir, sourdough starter, buttermilk or lemon juice
Other Ingredients
  • 2 cups/500 ml any combination of soaked nuts/seeds: almonds, sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chia, flax, or any other seeds/nuts
  • ¼ cup/60 ml raw cacao nibs
  • 1 cup/250 ml raisins or other dried fruit
  • 1 cup/250 ml (90g/3.2 oz by weight) unsweetened dried coconut shreds
  • ½ cup/125 ml coconut oil (3.5 ounces/105g by weight)
  • ¼ cup/60 ml raw honey (3 ounces/85g by weight)
  • ¼ cup/60ml raw sugar (1¾ ounces/50g by weight)
  • 1 tsp./5ml sea salt
  • ½ tsp./3ml freshly ground cinnamon
Fruit options
  • 2 ripe bananas, fresh peaches, sliced thinly OR
  • ½ cup/120ml blueberries or chopped fresh strawberries (tops and cores removed)
Instructions
Soaking
  1. Add dried oats/grains and flour to a large mixing bowl. Add yogurt, whey, sourdough starter or lemon juice and filtered water.
  2. Cover with a dish towel and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. For a more sour sourdough-style flavor and texture, let the mixture sit 2 to 4 days. It should start bubbling and smelling sour by the 2nd day.
Post Soaking Prep
  1. Add nuts/seeds, dried fruit and coconut shreds to soaked oats.
  2. Combine honey, oil (melt coconut oil in a saucepan if it is solid), sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Add to other ingredients. Mix well.
Option 1: Low Temp Oven
  1. Preheat oven to its LOWEST temperature (usually 150-170°F).
  2. Line a half-sheet pan with a silicon mat or parchment paper.
  3. Pour mixture into center of sheet pan and spread out evenly. It should create a layer about ½ inch thick.
  4. Grate cinnamon bark or sprinkle cinnamon (if pre-ground) evenly over mixture.
  5. (Optional) Press fresh fruit slices into batter (like berries, banana or peach slices).
  6. Put into oven.
  7. After 8 hours (or overnight), cut the sheets into 2" to 3" squares with a plastic pizza cutter or a plastic knife (to avoid cutting through the parchment).
  8. After cutting, flip the pieces over in place in the pan so that they brown on both sides.
  9. After granola has dried to the desired crunchy/chewy texture (from 8 to 24 hours), remove from oven.
Option 2: Dehydrator: A great option if you have one!
  1. Divide the mixture evenly among several silicon mat-lined dehydrator trays (do not use the mesh tray at this point because it will not hold batter!) and spread out evenly to create a layer about ½ inch thick. If you're using the 12-inch square (Excalibur) dehydrator, you will use two 12-inch trays for this recipe. Other models may vary based on the tray shape and size.
  2. Grate cinnamon bark or sprinkle cinnamon (if pre-ground) evenly over mixture.
  3. (Optional) Press fresh fruit slices into batter.
  4. Set temperature to 135°F/57°C and leave for 8-12 hours.
  5. After 8 hours (or overnight), the granola will have solidified a bit. Score the semi-solid granola sheets into 2 or 3-inch squares with a pizza cutter or a knife (to avoid cutting through the silicon sheets).
  6. At this point, you may flip the pieces over so they dry/cook evenly on both sides, and/or transfer the entire sheet onto the plastic mesh tray insert (which will work support the semi-solid granola) by "flipping" the entire sheet over onto the mesh tray. This will ensure more even dehydration.
  7. Cook for the remaining time (to the desired crunchy/chewy texture), another 8-16 hours.
Storage
  1. Let cool, then break up the pieces where you scored them. Keep as squares, or if you want full on pourable granola, break into tiny pieces.
  2. Store into a one-gallon zip-top bag or airtight glass or plastic container. For maximum freshness and shelf life, store in freezer where they will last up to a few months (and slow you down from eating it all at once!)