Kitchen DIY: Homemade Roasted Peanut Butter
It might seem like it — today’s post notwithstanding — but I don’t make everything from scratch.
I do, however, believe in eating foods as close to nature as possible, meaning those prepared with little or no unnecessarily added salt, sugar, oil/fat, preservatives or artificial flavors. Don’t get me wrong; there are certainly many times and places where packaged and processed foods can and do play a role in our kitchen. In general, experimenting with homemade versions of basic (and some not-so-basic) staples is something I simply enjoy doing. And even better, I feel good about providing these to my family.
One such food: nut butter.
Most households have a jar of some kind of nut or seed butter in the refrigerator or pantry at all times, and most are probably the regular creamy version from popular name brands. Over the years I’ve progressed from major brands’ regular versions, to major brands’ “natural” versions, to the ground-in-store versions, and finally to my 100% homemade versions.
Why do I do this?
Well, we know that nuts and seeds are a phenomenal source of protein and healthy fats. Fiber, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants add to the benefits list. When turned into butters, the nuts and seeds become a creamy, spreadable and healthy treat. A topping for toast, fruit or veg, an add-in to smoothies, yogurt and porridge, a base for spicy sauces and unique sandwich spreads, a delicious pre-bed snack from a spoon.
Most store-bought butters, however, come with a long list of less-than-desirable ingredients to increase shelf life, “improve taste,” and help with spread-ability, including refined sugar, salt, a slew of preservatives, and partially hydrogenated oils — the unhealthy trans fats. A once nutritious food becomes the opposite, and so needlessly!
This DIY recipe is healthier than store-bought, less expensive (especially if you purchase nuts [or seeds] in bulk), and puts you in charge of the textures and flavors.
Oh, and there’s only ONE ingredient: nuts. Peanuts here, though any nut or seed will work. Basically, have food processor and a few minutes, will butter!
And just to re-emphasize the fact, there’s nothing wrong with pre-made products, as long as you know what to look for. So if you do purchase store-bought nut and seed butters, stick to “natural” versions made with little or no added salt, sugar or preservatives, and no hydrogenated oils. You may also want to experiment with different types of butters, like almond, cashew, sunflower and soy nut butter, especially if there are allergies in the home.
But why wouldn’t you make your own. Look at that creaminess, and so simple and wholesome! You can definitely feel good about sharing this with your family and friends. Or just yourself.
What’s in it for me?
Peanut butter, like all nut and seed butters, is fairly calorie-dense with about 190 calories per 2-Tbsp serving (the size of a ping pong ball). The good news is that it’s also nutrient-dense, providing significant contributions to your daily intake of copper, manganese, folate and other B vitamins, vitamin E and fiber. There is a significant amount of fat per serving (16 grams), but it’s predominantly the healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that improve blood lipid levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. And ounce for ounce, peanuts have a higher protein content than any other nut – one serving provides a whopping 7 grams.
Peanuts also contain cholesterol-lowering sterols, and the amino acid arginine to inhibit blood clotting and relax blood vessels – all of which further reduce risk of heart disease. Research suggests that a potent antioxidant phytochemical found in peanuts, resveratrol (of red wine fame), may also help prevent colorectal cancers.
Slathered on an apple, tucked into a celery boat with raisin riders, thickly spread onto grainy bread, swirled into hot porridge, whirled into a breakfast or post-workout smoothie, licked off a spoon (or your finger, if your family loves you a lot) straight from the jar… the ways I love to consume homemade peanut butter — any nut or seed butter for that matter — are many. Try it for yourself this weekend and see!
Tell me… What’s your preferred (pea)nut butter-to-mouth method?
- 1 lb (16 oz) raw, unsalted shelled peanuts (see HGN Notes)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread peanuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking tray lined with foil. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, stirring or shaking the pan one or two times during the cooking to ensure even browning.
- Remove the tray from the oven when the peanuts are a deep golden color and smell peanutty. (Keep a close eye on them toward the end, as golden can turn into black very quickly.) Let the peanuts cool down for a few minutes on the tray.
- Transfer the cooled, roasted nuts into the bowl of a food processor using the foil. Let the processor run until the nuts go from a sandy, crumbly texture to a thick paste, about 2 minutes. Turn machine off, scrape down the sides and continue to process until mixture is creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
- Pour and scrape the peanut butter into an airtight container. Set it aside with the lid off for a few minutes to allow it to completely cool before sealing. The peanut butter will keep 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
My recipe calls for roasting the nuts first, but you can keep them raw if you prefer. Keep in mind that raw nuts will take a little longer to process; the freshly roasted peanuts break down into nut butter faster when added to the food processor while still warm.
+ After roasting the nuts I am more than pleased with the flavor of this peanut butter without the addition of salt or sweetener, but if you feel yours needs it: 1/4 tsp kosher salt, and/or 2 tsp honey or maple syrup should be plenty. Add when you stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl.
+ Spice it up with 2 tsp cinnamon, cardamom or a chai spice blend.
+ Go smoky with 1 tsp smoked paprika, or fiery with 1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on your level of heat tolerance).
+ Blend in 1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme, mid-way through the processing.
+ Fan of chunky? Process in an additional 1/2 to 1 cup of peanuts at the very end.
+ Experiment with different types of nuts and seeds, like almond, cashew, pecan, hazelnut, pepita, sunflower... whatever you like! Keep in mind, though, that harder nuts like almond and hazelnut will take longer to process than softer nuts and seeds.
+ Create a healthier take on Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread) by adding cocoa powder. Start with 4 Tbsp and taste; if you need more, add up to another 1 to 2 Tbsp. Hazelnut butter is great for this, but go ahead and try any nut or seed you like!
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