DIY Peanut (and Other Nut) Butters
Now that there are more and more peanut butter options on grocery store shelves, I'm guessing quite a few families have debated between purchasing the conventional versions, with their familiar silky consistency, and the "natural" offerings. While the ingredient list may make the latter option attractive, this choice often requires that, once you get it home, someone takes on the aerobic task of trying to stir in the separated oil floating at the top of the jar. I usually end up volunteering, and am rewarded for this good deed by sloshing oil all over myself and/or the counter. I have tried the tricks without much luck. No-stir options are also available, though the house brand sold at my grocery store contains palm oil, which may give consumers pause due to its environmental impact.
That all said, with so many options out there in addition to the simplicity of DIY-ing it at home, I wasn't convinced that a full post on homemade nut butters was really all that necessary. But then there was yet another wide-scale recall of commercial brands and it seemed like even if the "recipe" for making your own is little more than "place ingredients in food processor and run till smooth," it was worth the reminder about how easy it is to whip up. Plus, when you DIY, you gain control the type of nuts and oil, type and amount of sweeteners, and the salt content of each jar.
Though the recipe included here is for straight peanut butter, a true advantage to making your own nut butters—beyond health and safety—is the opportunity for variation (and you may see more cost savings in this area as well as you climb up into cashews and almonds). Mix and match the nuts to suit your tastes. Some, like macadamia, have an oil content high enough that you won't even need to add any extra when turning them into butters.
A word on oils: In my experience, using a small amount of coconut oil and then transferring the finished product to the refrigerator immediately results in a butter that holds together without getting oily on top or dry on the bottom. I like its texture as well, because it spreads smoothly when totally cold, but isn't runny on the knife. Though the oil is not completely neutral, I don't find that it overwhelms the taste of the nuts.
My grocery sells dry roasted peanuts for 18¢ an ounce. The house brand conventional creamy peanut butter is only 11¢ per ounce, but their "natural" organic no-stir version is about 18¢. The most expensive, "just peanuts, so you'll have to stir it, ma'am" option is 36¢. Finding a better deal on nuts and/or really fantastic tasting ones may be a big consideration when DIY-ing your own spread.
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About the author: Molly Sheridan feels about mason jars the way most women feel about shoes. A music journalist by day, she traces her love of weekend DIY kitchen projects back to the science experiments she ran with her dad as a kid. She is the author of Wonderland Kitchen and tweetledees @WonderlandK.