Peanut butter is known as the spread of life. What’s best about peanut butter is that is has a little secret: it is so easy to make it’s almost ridiculous. All you need is a food processor and peanuts. Pinch of salt, maybe, too. But that’s it. Any amount of nuts will do. I like to use honey roasted peanuts which give impart a yummy honey flavor. Normal roasted and salted peanuts work great too. Just don’t use raw ones. Note that since this is a natural peanut butter, it might separate and become oily; that’s okay though, just mix it up again. Most store bought peanut butters such as Skippy or Jif have hydrogenated vegetable oils added to them for a super silky, dense texture and to avoid the oily separation. Four cups of nuts make about 2 cups nut butter, so if you only want 1 cup, use 2 cups nuts.
Yield: About 2 cups
DIY: Homemade Peanut Butter
4 cups dry roasted peanuts or raw unsalted almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, macadamias, hazelnuts or pine nuts, even sunflower seeds!Pinch or two up to 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt (optional)Mild olive oil or nut oil, as needed
1. Place the peanuts in the bowl of a food processor, and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until your desired consistency of smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. The harder nuts like peanuts and almonds and macadamias can take 10 minutes. If the nut butter seems really dry, add a small dribble oil to help the gritty nut particles adhere to one another in a paste.)
2. Taste and add salt as desired. (Sometimes a little extra salt can make all the difference in turning a good nut butter into a great nut butter.). Transfer to a resealable container and refrigerate. Some nut butters will thicken substantially upon cooling so bring to room temperature if you need a spreadable consistency. Store the peanut butter in a glass jar or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.Variations
- Chunky: Pulse an additional 1 cup of peanuts into the finished peanut butter for a chunkier texture.
- Honey: Pulse 2 teaspoons of honey into the finished peanut butter until evenly disbursed.
- Cinnamon-Raisin: Pulse ½ cup raisins + 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar into the finished peanut butter until evenly distributed.
- Maple: Pulse 2 tablespoons of maple syrup into the finished peanut butter until thoroughly combined. Grade B or C is stronger flavored than Grade A.
- Chocolate Nut Butter: Combine toasted almonds with 1 1/4 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips. Grind the nuts then add the chips.
- Cashew Ginger Nut Butter: Process the cashews until smooth. add the 1/2 cup chopped candied ginger and process 1 minute. Taste for 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger and salt.
If your nuts are raw:
- 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- 2. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a clean rimmed baking sheet and lightly toast for 5 to 8 minutes. You should be able to smell a delicious nutty flavor when they’re ready. (The softer the nut, the less time you’ll need. Pecans and walnuts cook quickest, almonds and hazelnuts take longest.)
- 3. Remove the nuts from the oven and immediately dump them in your food processor along with the salt.
Cashew: The favorite nut of Indian cuisine. The smooth butter forms after about 2 minutes of processing. It is ideal for sandwiches. Try it with avocado and other vegetables in a pita, or substitute it for tahini when you make hummus.
Almond: Roasted whole almonds have skins that will fleck the butter. When the almonds start to come away from the sides of the food processor, the butter is ready. Slivered, toasted almonds take about 3 1/2 minutes to form a butter, but roasted whole almonds have additional oil and will be ready in just 2 1/2 minutes. This mild, sweet butter is adaptable in sweet and savory dishes. Try almond butter on a sandwich with apples and brie or Gouda cheese.
Macadamia: Hands down, this is a favorite nut butter―you will lick the spoon. Because of macadamias’ high fat content, the nuts grind into a butter too thin for spreading on bread in just 2 minutes. Chill to thicken it. Its buttery flavor is great for desserts.
Hazelnut: This grainy, thick butter with brown specks is fruity and naturally sweet. Processing it takes about 2 1/2 minutes. Bags of chopped nuts have few skins, so don’t worry about removing them. If nuts are whole, toast them in a 400° oven for 5 minutes or until they start to look shiny and the skins begin to loosen. Rub them in a dishtowel to remove skins. Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of chocolate syrup and hazelnut butter for a delicious spread that’s great on toasted honey wheat bread with bananas or on apple wedges.
Pecan: With a rich, hearty flavor that stands up well, pecan butter is great over meats. Pecans process into butter in about a minute. The loose paste spreads easily, but skins give it a slightly bitter aftertaste, so it’s best for recipes.
Peanut: Use plain roasted peanuts, rather than dry-roasted peanuts, which are seasoned with paprika, garlic, and onion powder. This smooth nut butter has distinctive fresh peanut flavor and the nuts take about 2 minutes to process. It is lighter in color than commercial peanut butters and is grainier than commercial hydrogenated brands.
Pistachio: The favorite nut of Greek and Middle Eastern cuisine. A very dry, crumbly butter, it’s best combined with something else, like softened cream cheese. Cream cheese―pistachio spread is nice on French bread. It takes about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes to grind into butter. It tends to clump during processing.
Walnut: Like pecan butter, this soft, oily butter is ready in about a minute. It, too, has a bitter aftertaste from the skins, making it good for recipes but not on sandwiches. Walnut halves are expensive, so look for pieces.