When my husband was still in college, I used to go to a little apple shop in Provo, Utah called Allred Orchards. They sold canisters of dried tart cherries which were so addicting I had to exercise major restraint to not eat them all in under three days. Since then, dried cherries have become more widely available at grocery stores. I buy mine at Whole Foods, and I’ve even seen them at Target.
For this granola, I used these wonderful cherries, and paired them with almonds and lemon zest. After much experimentation over the years, I think I finally got the proportions and cooking times right to give it the crunch I wanted.
6 cups (480g) old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup (40g) slivered almonds
1/2 cup (125g) vegetable oil
1 cup (250g) honey
1/2 cup (125g) brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 cups (400g) dried sour cherries, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees (150 degrees Celsius). Combine oats, oil, honey, brown rice syrup, vanilla, almond extracts, nutmeg, and lemon zest in a large bowl (that’s everything except for the cherries).
2. Spread mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet (half sheet size). Bake for 15 minutes, and stir the mixture with a spatula. Return the mixture to the oven, raise the heat to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius), and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until oats are a golden brown.
3. Remove cookie sheet from the oven, and allow the mixture to cool completely. When it has cooled, break up the mixture in large and small pieces. Place in a large bowl and stir in dried cherries. Serve alone, with milk, or on top of yogurt and fruit. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.