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Really Great Granolas?

I'm going to be holding a granola tasting (I'll post findings here afterward) and would like suggestions of brands. I plan on including all of the following. Are any of them lame? Any great brands missing? Also let me know if there's a clear flavor winner for any of these brands (e.g. I know a lot of people prefer Early Bird's "Aloha").

I'd like to only include particularly good granolas, not any "pretty good" ones!

Galaxy Granola
Bob's Red Mill Old Country Style Muesli
Udi's Granola
Heartland Granola Cereal
Bakery on Main gluten-free
Kashi Mountain Medley Granola Cereal
Breadshop's Organic Granola
Early bird granola
Bear Naked
Ola Granola

Oh, and suggestions for tiny regional brands are also welcome....I'll just mail order them.

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  1. adding:
    Honey Oat and Cinnamon Pecan from "The Baker" (who does cardboardy breads, but, I hear, good granola)

    10 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Yes, I was going to suggest you add "The Baker's" granola, until I saw your second post. :)

      I don't know all those brands you listed. Of those I've had:

      Bakers is best,
      Galaxy pretty good,
      Bear Naked average,
      Breadshop subpar.

      I wish I could find some good ones that didn't cost upwards of $5 a pound!

      If I think of some others, I'll jump in again!

      One thing that's a big issue with me is the level of toasting. If there isn't any nutty, toasty thing going on, granolas are too blah for me. And there has to be an interesting mix of grains, nuts, seeds, maybe a little fruit...

      1. re: comestible

        Thanks. I'll delete breadshop. I don't like Bear Naked at all, but so many people do that I felt obliged to include them.

        For purposes of this tasting, "money is no object", though I agree that the pricing on some of these brands is outrageous....

        1. re: Jim Leff

          IMO the best Bear Naked is the fruit & nut. the other flavors are just not very good. But I would put that up there as a "great" granola.

          I think the snacking granola from Whole Foods is also very good.

          1. re: rockandroller1

            I think fruit and nut is the one I never tried. So that'll be the one we taste!

            Is the snacking granola under Whole Foods' own brand?

            1. re: Jim Leff

              the chocolate one is actually pretty tasty....

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Yes, it's their brand. I've tried several other snacking granolas but they are all lacking IMO.

        2. re: Jim Leff

          I love Bakers Granola, but have had a problem with rancid ingredients 3 times in the past year. I think their quality control is going downhill and I no longer think it is worth the 5 bucks a bag.

          1. re: NE_Elaine

            Rancidity is a huge problem all over, especially with natural foods containing no preservatives. And, worse, there's so much rancidity out there that consumers don't perceive mild rancidity as an "off" flavor; it's one they're used to.

            1. re: NE_Elaine

              That's really disappointing in a granola from a regional maker, where you'd think the manufacturing/distribution cycle is easy to control. Is that because of QC or is it that the stores are keeping the product on the shelf too long? (I've seen that problem at my local health food store.)

              1. re: comestible

                When I said "Rancidity is a huge problem all over", I meant all food products containing nuts, not just granola. Trader Joe's cereals with nuts are often a bit rancid, and I taste/smell rancidity all over. I think most consumers are actually well-acquainted with that aroma, but just don't identify it correctly (same with skunky beer....for many people, that's "the great imported taste" of Heineken, in those green bottles that let in the frequency of light that interacts badly with the hops).

                Not sure what it is; I'd imagine different factors affect different products, but shelf life is surely one of them. We've shelf-stabilized so many different things, but nuts (at least ones that aren't vacuum packed, irradiated, etc) are just nuts....

            1. Not sure if this counts, but the Costco bakery department makes an awesome, addictive snacking granola (it's probably super high calorie, even by granola standards).

              4 Replies
              1. re: Humbucker

                ipsedixit, thanks, great, "crack-like" is what I'm looking for (I have a verifiable problem with Ola Granola). Can you recommend a stand-out flavor?

                Humbucker, how much variation is there between Costco stores and regions? I'm in the NYC area.

                1. re: Jim Leff

                  The basic old fashioned and maple pecan are the flavors I've tried. I'm tempted to try the pumpkin when my "stash" runs out.

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    I'm in the San Francisco bay area, but I think I've also seen it in a Toronto area Costco, so the NYC stores might have it.

                    Here's a picture I found on Flickr:

                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsisante...

                    The granola comes in a large plastic tub and can usually be found near the cakes and pies in the bakery dept.

                    1. re: Humbucker

                      Agree. I love that Costco granola and didn't realize they still made it. I also agree that it's probably intensely caloric but it's tasty.

                  1. I like Kashi's Cocoa Beach also, though it only feels sorta like eating granola. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

                    And I hate being one of those people who responds to a thread asking for the best and responding 'homemade!', but, um, yeah, I guess I am that guy today. This is a solid starter recipe, though I substitute the maple syrup for honey to increase clumping, and add an extra cup of nuts (usually pecans) and a TBL of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg, also, probably an extra 1/2-3/4 cup of dried fruit (I'm partial towards some combination of blueberries, cherries, cranberries and super-plump raisins)

                    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...