New Product Developments
I often get asked how we make granola or how we come up with our recipes at Rollagranola. In terms of making granola, the combination of good ingredients, gentle handling and good machinery makes a difference.
Many people want to have clusters - the main thing for these is do not turn the product over too much while it is warm, let the moisture out but don’t knock it about, so be gentle. A good mixer helps, this will help moisturise absorption into the oats without bashing them around, add as much liquid as you like but this adds to the baking time so it’s better to keep it below 10%. When baking, use perforated trays – this helps the drying and underbake.
At Rollagranola we only use jumbo oats, it is easier to use porridge oats or quick oats, but I feel they make a bit of a mush and so generally prefer to avoid them unless there is a clear need.
Because we don’t use refined sugars and like to have a lot of ingredients getting clusters is trickier and can be unpredictable, more ingredients give more points for fracture so each product may need a little tweak and I guess that is part of our expertise. After eight years of making granola, we have learned a lot but continue to be amazed as new ideas emerge.
In terms of our flavours and recipe development, it starts with customers and consumers, we may get an interesting comment or be asked for something specific or we may research new ingredients, new eating styles and new dietary habits. All of these create a picture of emerging trends and build ideas, considering what goes with what we may just experiment and play with ideas. Nothing is off-limits until it has been reviewed.
If we look at the development process scientifically:
- phase 1: research - lots of research
- phase 2: play with recipes
- phase 3: more research and more targeted research - how to I fix this issue
- phase 4: achieve a 80-90% product - almost there
- phase 5: market review - is there enough of a market
- phase 6: costing
- phase 7: redevelopment, refinement, change to meet specific needs while keeping the flavour/key characteristics
- phase 8: review and sign off - generally means some additional refinements
- phase 9: packaging development
- phase 10: launch
- phase 11: review has it worked? and if not why not?
Phases can overlap and be repeated where product developments are not progressed in such a step-wise fashion unless every other part of the day job gets dropped. But each phase must be completed to get a finished product, though often ideas morph and combine with others. This always feels like a lovely surprise.
Research and inquisitiveness are fundamental - asking why is the big win. We have always got a dozen or so ideas bubbling away in the background, but I try not to force these, often we will make a series of new product ideas none of which hit the spot but all of which help to build a picture of what is possible and what does not work, if we can figure out why something does not work then probably we have progress.
We are always on the lookout for new food ingredients, more to look at how they may help a broader agenda than to just incorporate. Our granola usually has a delicate flavour - the mix of ingredients and flavours can be overwhelmed by a strong flavour, so we always experiment and figure things out step by step, rarely do we get a solution in the first 5-6 attempts. We may have a long-term ambition to make a product with specific characteristics. This may take years to emerge as maybe there is a part of the puzzle that does not drop into place. It always does, it just takes time.
For those less of a purist - to make a product that sticks together, the quick way is to use sugar and oil. This is the basis of toffee. So if you want a sweet and clumpy granola, like flapjack but broken up, use sugar and oil in abundance. Just bake at a low temperature, say 100 deg C to avoid burning.
We'd love to hear from you on what we’re doing well and not so well so please get in touch and let us know what you’d love to see from us.