Sunday, February 6, 2011

Nut Butter, Your Way

I'm about to let you in on a little secret that could possibly change your culinary life.  It's one of those secrets that you'll respond to saying "No way, how did I not know that before?", and you'll wonder how and why you have lived so uninformed.  This specifically applies to all of my fellow peanut and nut butter lovers out there; those who shamelessly go at a jar with a spoon and cannot really imagine a day without the tasty nutty delight.  For those of you who fall under that category, I'm about to empower you with a skill that will make your nut butter experiences that much more fulfilling, tasty, and economical to boot.  

It's the simple fact that you can make your own nut butter.  Yes, you, sitting there; you can do it.  With all those years you passed grocery store aisles thinking some far away factory could be the only one to provide you with your nutty fix, you now know it can come from your own home.  

What's even better about making it yourself is that you have full control over both the quality and creativity of the final product.  All of those jars that have ingredients like corn syrup, thickening agents, and extra oil?  There's just no need for them.  On the simplest level, all you really need is your desired nut.  That's it.  You put a whole bunch of them in a food processor, turn it on, and within 5 minutes you'll find yourself hovered over the bowl unable to cease licking the warm, freshly churned nut butter from your spatula (not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...).  Then add what you like.  Salt, honey, coconut, a combination of nuts, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, flaxmeal, cayenne name it!  And, of course, don't forget to add that dash of gratitude you now have after being awakened to such a gift as freshly homemade nut butter.

Homemade Nut Butter

Okay, a few more helpful facts before you get started:

- I like to use either all roasted nuts or part roasted and part raw.  The roasting process brings out the nuts' natural oils which makes churning easier, and also lends that tasty roasted flavor.  My go-to combination is a 2:1:1 ratio of peanuts to almonds and walnuts. 

- A food processor really is the key tool here.  It's powerful enough to fully demolish the nuts to create that creamy spread for your ideal PB&J.  You may be able to use a blender, but make sure it's a quality one that packs a lot of punch.  Don't be deterred if you don't have a food processor - you can certainly test it in your blender and see how it goes.  In my opinion a food processor is an absolutely worthwhile purchase with all of the other applications you can use it for (pesto! hummus! bread dough! frosting! I could go on!) Or, go bug a friend who knows all of this and therefore has one.  

- Be patient with the process.  Don't freak out after 2 minutes and your nut butter looks dry and chunky.  Have the machine running for at least five full minutes and you'll see the transformation unfold.  I usually like to watch the bowl like a small broadway show; the thrilling plot of how the big mass of chopped nuts all of a sudden starts swirling around the bowl as it surrenders to become a silky spread.  You could also do a chore in the meantime.  Personally I've come to like hula-hooping and watching it churn simultaneously.

- Store the nut butter in a tightly covered tupperware container in the fridge.  The natural oils will keep better in there than on a shelf.


- Around 4 cups of your favorite nut or combination of nuts.  Use more if you want more.  Use less if you want less.

- Any additional flavors or spices you feel like eating with your nut butter


- Place nuts in food processor

- Turn food processor on

- Wait five minutes.  (if you feel the urge to scrape down the sides with a spatula, go ahead)

- Enjoy watching the churning process, or go do your 5 minute chore, or do both at the same time

- Open food processor and smell the warm nuttiness wafting into your nose.  Don't resist tasting.

- Add your other ingredients if applicable (a pinch of salt does wonders at the very least)

- Mix them all together

- Taste again

- And again

- And again

- And again...


A perfect pair.  Test out your next batch of Banana Mash with your new nut butter.  
You wont turn back!

1 comment:

  1. For anyone reading this... I had the honor of getting to try this homemade nut butter on toast this morning (topped with Lizzy's personally toasted coconut of course). My life has been changed. A food processor purchase is in my near future.