With peanut butter and peanut butter paste product recalls due to salmonella in the news, making your own peanut butter at home seems a much safer alternative. It's not that difficult if you have a food processor and it's a great way to control the sugar/salt content. You don't have to limit yourself to peanuts - almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds and any combination of these make delicious and nutritious nut butters. By making these butters yourself from whole nuts you can be assured that the final product does not contain any of the undesirable but allowable "ingredients" (ie: insect parts, rodent hair) found in commercial nut butters. Plus, you can't get it any fresher than when you make it yourself
Nuts should be a part of your diet as they are rich in energy, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids. They lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, and help to prevent coronary artery disease. The fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect that helps lower your risk of strokes, high blood pressure and some types of cancers and offers some benefit for rheumatoid arthritis. Nuts are also said to help you to lose weight because they keep your hunger satisfied longer, are high in fiber, and the fats can raise your metabolism when burning the calories from them. Keep in mind that they are high in calories so you should stick to portion sizes!
When you buy your nuts in bulk it is even more economical to make your own nut butter at home. I purchase my natural almonds at Costco for $10/1.36 Kg. A 500 g (2 cup) jar of almond butter retails for around $10 so that's better than half the cost. Whenever possible you should use organic nuts but this is not always feasible because of availability and cost. I use nuts in my cereals and raw foods as well so I go through a lot of nuts and find it too expensive to buy them organic. I soak my nuts for 8-12 hours to remove the enzyme inhibitors and dehydrate them for storage. The soaking makes the nut more digestible and they taste better.
Nut butters are wonderful to spread on bread, toasted or plain, to dip celery or apple slices in, or to use in recipes calling for peanut butter. Mmmm....can't you just imagine hazelnut butter chocolate chip cookies! With the addition of cocoa and a little coconut palm sugar you could even make your own hazelnut-chocolate spread. Now you want to make some nut butter don't you!
How to Make Nut Butter at Home
For 1 1/2 cups of nut butter use 2 cups of nuts. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet with sides and roast in your oven at 350 for 5-8 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
Place slighly cooled nuts in your food processor fitted with the s-blade and process till it looks like crumbs. If you are using coconut sugar and/or salt add to processor now.
Continue to process until it becomes smooth. You need to have a bit of patience with this as it takes some time for the oils to release and the nuts to become creamy but it will happen! I would say it takes a good 5 minutes.
For the pictured nut butter I used 1 cup of natural almonds, 1 cup of hazelnuts and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. I do not like to add sugar, but if that's your thing I would suggest using a tablespoon or less. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about a month. One tablespoon of this nut butter is 84 calories and has 1.5 g of fiber and 2.5 g of protein.
I hope you will give this a try!