Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Peanut Butter: A love story. Also a How-To and Troubleshooting Guide.

Oh, peanut butter.  How I love thee.

In college I would buy tubs of peanut butter and eat it by the spoonful.  When I was pregnant I would eat a PJ&J sandwich every night before bed.  Every.  Night.  Each time I donate blood I look forward to the Nutter Butter cookies in the "donor recovery" area.  (I'm not strong enough to buy them and have them in my house...for fear they would all be eaten in one day.)  It's one of the (very) few things that I won't buy generic.  And once we became a family of five, we started going through a two-pound tub of peanut butter every week.  Every.  Week. 

It's nuts.

About a year ago when peanut prices suddenly spiked, our habit was costing over $10/week (over $500/year for those slow at math).  Cheaper than a Starbucks habit, but still alarming when you see a 20% price increase in your favorite vice. 

And so I started to explore other options.  No, I didn't consider curbing the habit.  In the spirit of a true addict, I simply looked for a way to make my habit more affordable.

Enter Pinterest and a random link for instructions on making your own peanut butter.  Ding, ding, ding!!  We have a winner.  Make my own?!  How awesome is that?!  I learned how to save a little money and make a peanut butter that is just a tad healthier than what you typically find on the shelf at the grocery store.  No added oils, no added sugar, just plain old nuts. 

"How?" you might ask. 

Well, let me tell you.  Grab a pen and take some notes. 
Step One: Put nuts in food processor
Step Two: Turn on.

Seriously.  It's easy, people.  Are you kicking yourself that you've never tried this before?  You should be.  And the results are so delicious, and completely customizable to your taste and texture preferences.  Keep reading for my handy nut butter tutorial and trouble-shooting guide...

1.  If you still have it, read the instruction manual for your food processor.  It will probably include instructions on the max capacity for doing nut butter in your machine.  If you are not the type to save instruction manuals and file them away for future reference, then you can just safely assume that the capacity for nut butter is going to be LESS than you would typically put in your food processor.  My 8-cup model recommends 4-cups max for nut butter. 

2.  Put the peanuts in your food processor and let them go for about 5-7 minutes. 

2-3 Minutes:

 7 Minutes:

3.  Store in an airtight container.  We have been eating homemade nut butters for about a year and have never kept them in the fridge.  We're all still alive, so I'm going to say cupboard storage is probably just fine.

What if my peanut butter is too runny?
Store it in the fridge. Or, next time don't process as long. 

I like my peanut butter to be sweet.  Can I add sugar?
In my experience sugar, even in small quantities, gave my peanut butter a gritty texture.  I recommend a small amount (1-2 Tablespoons) of agave nectar or honey if you're a sucker for the sweet.  Add this at the end once your butter looks "done."  Note that even a small amount of sweetener will alter the texture of your nut butter, making it a little more firm and sticky. 

What if my kids won't eat it?
Put it in a Skippy jar.

What kind of nuts do I use?
I prefer the roasted, salted nuts. If you're a true, tree-hugger-health-nut, you can use the plain nuts but the results are not nearly as tasty, IMHO.

What about almond butter?  Is that just as easy?
Yes.  And no.  You can use the basic instructions here to make almond butter, but since almonds are much harder, they will be in the food processor for a LOT longer (15-20 minutes) before they turn to butter.  Add another 3-5 minutes if you toss in sweetener at the end.  Almonds also tend to bind up in the machine more than peanuts, so you will need to watch carefully and stop the machine to break up the clumps when they form. 

Is almond butter better than peanut butter?
The texture and taste of almond butter is different.  Your kids may not eat it.  Even if you hide it in a Skippy jar. The health value of peanuts vs. almonds is up for debate.  Google it and decide for yourself. 

How do I get my picky eater kid to eat almond butter?
Mix almonds and peanuts together.  My typical batch of nut butter is about 1 C. Almonds, 3 C. peanuts.  I tried half peanuts/half almonds but the kids turned up their noses.  I put in the almonds first and process them for about 3-5 minutes, then add the peanuts and process until smooth.  Important Note:  You must call this creation "Peanut Butter."  Any deviation from that name or mention of almonds may cause your picky eater to shun your nut butter. 

Does it separate on the shelf?  Do I need to stir it first?
No and no. I have no idea why the "natural" peanut butter you see in the store always has that icky layer of oil on top.  When you make your own peanut butter it all stays together and doesn't require any stirring. 

Is this really a healthy choice?
I'm not here to debate the nutritional merits (or lack thereof) of my peanut butter habit.  I'm simply here to share the nut butter love. 

No comments:

Post a Comment