Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Making Peanut Butter

This is not so much a recipe as it is perhaps the simplest tutorial in history. Homemade nut butter is exceedingly easy to make, fairly cheap, and you can modify it endlessly to suit your taste preferences.

Peanut butter is an excellent quick protein source, and it can be a helpful tool to use to encourage little ones to eat more fresh vegetables. Carrots and celery, anyone? How about cabbage? Yum.

Another thing I like about homemade peanut butter is that it's just like the "natural" peanut butter you can buy at the grocery store, only it doesn't separate in the refrigerator—you don't have to stir it. You can also make it as smooth or chunky as you want (though if you prefer a truly chunky peanut butter, I recommend making the creamy version then stirring in chopped peanuts at the end).

There's only one catch: you need a food processor. I've tried it in our blender and it's not as successful. Maybe if you have one of those super blenders, you could make it work. I don't know, maybe my blender is just crappy.

In any case, this is pretty simple: buy some peanuts from the bulk section. Put them in the food processor:


(Put the lid on top.) Turn the food processor on. Now just sit back and let it do its magic.


Wait for it...


There's still a little more time to wait. Make yourself a cup of tea! (After all, you're working up a sweat making homemade peanut butter.) Pro tip: don't take the lid off of the food processor every few seconds to take photos—makes the whole thing take way longer than it should.


Oh, it's reached the clumpy ball stage! You could call it quits here, really: this is like the kind you get from the grinders at the grocery store. I like mine really smooth and creamy, so I'm going to wait it out.


Ahh, there we go! Yummy, creamy (one ingredient!) peanut butter. If you like to complicate things you could add a few more ingredients: honey for a sweeter result; salt for a... um... saltier one.


Or perhaps you want to get really fancy and add a splash of vanilla extract or a dash of cinnamon. Don't worry; you can't mess this up! (If you do happen to mess this up, please come back here and tell me all about it. I promise to be very sympathetic.)


If you prefer other kinds of nuts to peanuts, try your hand at a different kind of nut butter! Or, you could try a mix of nuts to find the best combination for your taste buds. Keep in mind that the fattier the nut, the easier it will be to blend it into nut butter. Pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts and hazelnuts have higher fat content than almonds, cashews, pistachios, and chestnuts. I've made almond butter a few times, and I needed to add a little bit (a spoonful; maybe a tablespoon) of coconut oil to the batch to make it really smooth and spreadable.

I store my peanut butter (in the refrigerator) in glass jars I've saved from other foods. (I think the jar pictured above used to contain artichoke hearts, or coconut oil jars are also a popular choice around here.) Mason jars work really well, though, if you have a few empties lying around.

Now tell me: how do you like to eat peanut butter? Are you a nut butter veteran and have a tip to share with us? Tell me in the comments!





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10 comments:

  1. I've made peanut butter once, with peanuts, coconut oil and think a bit of seat salt. It was delicious. It reminded me of the way reese's pb cups tasted when I was little - they don't taste the same anymore, at least to me :(. I actually use our magic bullet and it worked wonderfully. The kids LOVED it. I may have to make some again, but without the "extras". Of course, after we use up the store-bought we have and I can re-use the jars. Yay!

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    1. Ahh, the magic bullet—of course! I usually make such a large batch that this wouldn't be practical for me, but it'd be great for a smaller portion. Thanks for the tip!

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  2. Nuts butter are super easy. We love doing them, so yummy. Great pictures!

    The only caution is that nuts are very high in digestion upsetting enzymes(peanuts - phytic acid,almonds - oxalic acid, which also binds to minerals such as calcium) that are easily neutralized by soaking in salt water and then drying them in a dehydrator or oven. An extra step but one worth doing if you eat lots of nut butters or are trying to halt tooth decay.

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    1. Thanks for the pointer! I have never noticed any GI upset from eating nut butters, but I appreciate the extra information.

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  3. How long would this keep, Amy? If I were to make it and keep it in the fridge, for example?

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    1. I've never had any go bad in the refrigerator, Luschka, but like I said, we go through it fairly quickly. I would imagine that it would have at least the shelf life of (non-blended) nuts in the refrigerator, of 4-6 months minimum.

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  4. Thank you for this post. I tried making peanut butter once but now I see that I didn't run the food processor long enough. I thought that maybe I had to add oil or even soak the nuts before processing because I never got to that spreadable stage. Now I know ... let it work. Thanks so much! :-)

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    1. Being patient is definitely the hard part of making nut butters! It's totally worth the effort, though—there's nothing quite like warm, freshly made peanut butter!

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  5. This looks easy! We buy the all natural kind from Trader Joe's and seriously go through a jar a week. I wonder if this would be more cost effective?

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    1. Oops—I meant to put the cost breakdown in the post but then I forgot!

      For the batch pictured above, I bought organic peanuts from the bulk section, and they were not on sale. Here's what mine cost: $18.50 for about 4.5lbs of peanuts which made about 56oz (~7 cups), which turns out to be about $2.64 per cup of peanut butter.

      Nuts are always kind of expensive, but I would recommend buying them on sale (whenever possible) and from the bulk section instead of in the smaller packages. Winco often has really great prices on bulk foods, if you have one of those near you.

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