Nuthin’ but Nut Butter
For twenty-three years, I ate a lot of peanut butter. Decades of alternating sugary cereal with toasted bread, layered with creamy, peanutty goodness. Not just any peanut butter though, but the stuff made by everybody’s favourite macaroni and cheese company. Blissfully unaware, I thought I was eating real peanut butter.
Then one day in 2009, a health-nut friend of mine posted the following status on Facebook: “Just had some fresh roasted, organic peanut butter. Do people really still eat the big brand stuff? Gross.”
The statement hit me like a shockwave, after all, what’s wrong with big brand peanut butter?
Well, nothing is wrong as long as a person is okay with added oils, sugar, salt and the occasional food stabilizer. Apart from that, there is also the taste; while to each their own, the difference between a high quality, fresh roasted “just peanuts” peanut butter and a big brand is night and day. The former actually tastes like fresh roasted peanuts.
Upon this realization, I left my old ways in the dust and didn’t look back. However, within just a year of my switch, I had another realization: if the only ingredient in natural peanut butter is peanuts, then why don’t I just make my own?
To my satisfaction, making homemade peanut butter turned out to be quite tasty and actually, it came with a few side benefits:
– It’s inexpensive. About $3 for 500g
– It’s always fresh
– Full control over the ingredients. For example, if you like salty peanut butter but don’t want the other additives, feel free to just add salt; chunkiness can be controlled to personal preference; roasted flavour can be amplified by roasting the peanuts yourself, etc.
It’s worth noting that with full control comes the serious potential for creativity. Over the years, I’ve experimented with a number of concoctions, including peanut butter and honey combined, adding cocoa and stevia, as well as a personal favourite of folding raisins into the batch once the blending is finished. I have even tried a curried peanut butter recipe, but that little experiment ended up in the trash bin.
The best part though, is that do-it-yourself peanut-buttering has pushed me into the realm of other nut butters. Truthfully, it’s been a while since I’ve eaten straight-up peanut butter, what with the likes of almond-Brazil nut butter and fresh macadamia spread taking up residence in my refrigerator. If you’re into it, I highly suggest trying the combination of macadamia nut butter and pineapple jelly on top of toast or pancakes. It’s a heaping of Hawaiian heaven.
While I’ve tried and enjoyed a wide variety of nut butters, not all nuts readily convert to tasty spreads. Hazelnuts and walnuts, unadulterated, are kind of bitter. Combined they are merciless to no end. Pumpkin seeds blend well and taste oh-so-fresh but their cousin, the sunflower seed is a different story. The more sunflower seeds are processed, the more they gum up into a cement-like boulder of death. Additional oil is needed to smooth things out. Brazil nuts? They’re awesome and one of my favourites, but believe me when I suggest to avoid it at all costs, accidentally eating rancid Brazil nuts. Those suckers taste like the harshest type of metallic awfulness imaginable.
As a parting thought, I would like to say that overall, making homemade nut butters is fantastic. It’s super simple to do and when a guest is presented with a delightful pecan-raisin spread for breakfast (sweetened, it tastes like pecan pie or a raisin tart), you come across like some sort of kitchen ninja or wizard of delectable delights.
To help out and start you off on your own nut butter path, I’ve included the simplest recipe of all: One Step Peanut Butter.
– Four cups dry roasted peanuts
– Dump peanuts into food processor and blend for a few minutes or until desired consistency
– If you wish, add salt to taste. Refrigerating the peanut butter will help it last up to a month.