Ready for your weekend project? Here it is:
Make your own peanut butter.
Yes, it is true: you can make your own peanut butter. Or any kind of nut butter for that matter.
Why would you make your own nut butter?
1. Usually, the cost is same or less than store-bought natural nut butters.
2. You know that oil that rises to the top in the store-bought nut butters? That oil you have to stir in, which inevitably splashes over the sides and makes an oily mess? That oil that is almost impossible to stir all the way to the bottom of the jar so that the stuff at the top ends up too oily and the stuff at the bottom is like cement? The reason that happens is because the store-bought natural nut butters are OLD. If you make it yourself, you will eat it long before any oil separation has a chance to happen. You’ll have perfect texture all the way to the bottom of the jar.
3. Some stores have in-store roasters where they roast the nuts for you and you can grind it yourself right there. In my experience, the nuts are over roasted and the butter ends up tasting burnt. Or the grinder doesn’t grind it fine enough, or something. (Not to mention the higher price of a pound of this peanut butter compared to a pound of raw nuts.) If you have a store where you can do this and it turns out perfect, great! I haven’t found one yet.
4. You can control the amount of salt, oil, or other ingredients you want to add.
5. It is fun, and if you have kids, they will probably think this is really fun, too.
For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to stick with how to make peanut butter. But, the same basic principles apply to making any kind of nut butter you want (almond, cashew, etc.)
1 lb raw blanched peanuts (In my neck of the woods, I can get these at Whole Foods, Vitamin Cottage, Sunflower Market, Trader Joes, etc.)
1 tsp. coconut oil (or whatever oil you want to use)
1 tsp. salt
Preheat your oven to 350°.
A word about ovens: they vary. 350º on my oven may not be the same on yours. According to the Cook’s Illustrated book The Science of Good Cooking, it is common for ovens to get “off” over time and need to be calibrated. Testing the oven temperatures of 15 of their test cooks’ home ovens, they found that when they preheated their ovens to 350º for 30 minutes, the actual oven temperatures ended up ranging from 300º to 390º after preheating.
For those of us who are not test kitchen cooks (and here I’m assuming that is pretty much all of us), calibrating our ovens is something none of us will be bothering with. So, just note that in the times I list here for how to roast your peanuts and at what temperature, you may not get the same results as my ancient GE electric oven. Some trial and error is necessary and inevitable in learning how to work with your own equipment.
What to do:
- Put your pound of peanuts on a baking sheet.
- If there are a lot of skins still on them, remove the skins that peel off easily and toss them.
- If you are using a liquid oil, go ahead and put the 1 tsp of oil on the nuts and mix thoroughly. If you are using an oil that is solid at room temperature (like coconut), wait to add the oil until after the nuts have gotten hot in the oven.
- Spread the nuts on the baking sheet so they form a single layer.
- Put the baking sheet with nuts into the preheated oven for about 3 to 5 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t forget, and remove the nuts and stir them thoroughly immediately after the timer rings. Then keep doing this for roughly 3 minute intervals. Here are the time intervals I use, which work great for my oven: 5 minutes (I use coconut oil, so after this first 5 min, I mix in the oil so it will melt), 4 min, 3 min, 3 min, 3 min, 2 1/2 min – stirring the nuts thoroughly between each interval. (Using the timer means you don’t have to stand there and stare at the oven. Go check Facebook or email or clean the leftovers out of your fridge. You can multitask this, just as long as you get to that oven and stir the nuts as soon as the timer rings. 30 seconds can mean the difference between perfect peanut butter and burnt peanut butter.)
You want your nuts to be a pretty golden brown. If some are looking really dark in the centers and others are not very brown at all, you probably didn’t stir often enough or thoroughly enough, and you may need to reduce the time between stirs. If they are all too dark, perhaps lower the temp of your oven next time. If your nuts are still too pale, increase the time between stirs or perhaps raise the temp of your oven a little next time.
- Put the baking sheet of nuts out to cool. As they cool, the nuts will appear darker. I usually take my peanuts out of the oven just before they actually look fully done, because they will look darker later. The shine of the hot oil is deceptive, I think.
- When they are cooled a bit, put them in a food processor with the 1 tsp. of salt.
- Process the nuts and salt for about 3 min (in my food processor that is about all it takes, yours may take more or less time.)
At first the nuts will just look like grainy stuff flying around in the processor.
Then it will turn to a grainy paste.
Then it will begin to ball together in a lump that will go in circles.
And finally, it will settle into something that looks like peanut butter!
- Put your beautiful peanut butter in a jar and refrigerate. It will thicken in the refrigerator as it gets cold.
If you want chunky peanut butter, you can leave some roasted nuts aside (don’t process them with the rest). After you’ve removed the creamy peanut butter from your food processor, put the extra nuts you set aside into the food processor and pulse them until they are the size you want and stir them by hand into your jar of peanut butter.
Share and enjoy!!!
Have fun with your weekend project!
(P.S. I’ve tried making peanut butter from pre-roasted and salted peanuts from the store. Yarg! I don’t know why they taste so good in nut-form, but they make icky peanut butter.)