Grains, nuts, and seeds contain phytic acid, a form of dietary phosphate that humans lack the enzyme to digest unless cooked or fermented. Phytic acid stabilizes the nutrients and has the added effect of binding the B-vitamin niacin, and minerals like magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc.
During Lactobacillic fermentation the bacteria release enzymes to break down nutrients in the environment, the enzyme phytase which breaks down phytic acid more effectively than cooking. Starches are converted into simple sugars and lactic acid which are more digestible. It’s the same digestion your gut does but started in a jar first.
Nuts, grains and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors which prevent them from sprouting in conditions that aren’t good for sprouting (dryness). Soaking the nuts neutralizes the enzyme inhibitor.
Lactic acid preserves food by consuming sugars and starches to producing lactic acid, lowering the pH of the mixture and creating an acid environment is inhospitable to the bacteria that cause spoilage and food poisoning.
One of the most fun things about granola is that it you can use any ingredients that you want in your granola. Basically, it is grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, etc. As for amounts can be approximate.
Grains – Oats, specifically organic rolled oats, are the heart of any good granola. Advanced craftspersons could use amaranth, quinoa, sorghum or buckwheat.
Nuts – Almonds, walnuts and pine nuts are all great choices, but any nut you like will be fine.
Seeds – Sunflower, sesame and hemp seeds should be broken up a bit but can be used whole.
Fruit – Raisins, currants, goji, dried berries, chopped dried fruits,
Spices – Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, lemon zest, cayenne, or candied ginger.
Water – Filtered or spring water, no chlorine.
Sugar – Feeds the bacteria, there needs to be some sugar or molasses. If done right the fermentation process should consume most of the sugar. You may want to add more sweet after the ferment, but before processing. Dried stevia leaves or lo han
quo are great lo calorie choices. Agave is NOT. See my previous post.
Whey – This is an inoculation to introduce specific lacto bacteria strains. There is a culture the bacteria naturally present on fresh food but even minimal processing will disturb a native flora. The easiest method for harvesting whey is to scoop a depression in a tub of yogurt and let it sit in the fridge. The cloudy liquid that fills the hole is whey, culturally active and ready to go.
Extras – Honey, Nut Butters, cacao, delicate ingredients like ground flax, chia, or macademia.
Mix grains, nuts, spices and seeds in a glass jar or bowl. Don’t use plastic or metal, the increasing amount of acid can react with it. A one quart glass jar works well. Ingredients will expand some, so leave some room. In a separate glass, add molasses to some of your water, heated a bit to ensure mixing, then add more cool water until tepid (90-100` F) and add a spoonful or two of whey to the mix.
Pour water mixture over the dry ingredients until it just covers the surface. In a few hours the oats, nuts, and seeds will absorb some of the water and expand, so the water will not cover the surface anymore. We want a consistency of a thick oatmeal (it basically is just thick oatmeal.) If you need to, the semi finished granola can be eaten as porridge.
Cover the container with a cloth to keep dust and flies out, and place the container somewhere that’s about room temperature. Warmer temperatures speed up fermentation and cooler temperatures slow it down. You may want to stir up the mixture every day or so, to ensure even water distribution.
Let it soak for at least 24-72 hours, or as long as a week, depending on your tastes. The longer you let it ferment, the more acidic it becomes and the more sour it smells and tastes. Bubbles should form, because Lactobacilli create CO2 as a waste product.
After you have reached desired fermentation, give it one more stir for consistency, add in fruits or nut butters or honey and spoon mixture onto your dehydrator trays. I recommend forming bars or patties of a few ounces each, to facilitate drying time and for the utility of the shape. Expect 2 days in a standard dehydrator. To find your taste, you could stagger your drying and ferment each bar a day longer, just put a portion of the glop on the dehydrator and let the rest ferment. You can taste how it changes as the fermentation progresses.