Peanut, or in fact any nut butter is so incredibly simple to make, it’s a joke. It’s one of those things that when you discover how it all works, you feel like letting out a Machiavellian cackle, akin to some kind of heinous villain plotting to take over the world, due to it’s fiendishly simplicity. The main ingredient of any nut butter is nuts, something I’m sure you could have guessed. However, there are no other requisite ingredients, nothing else is required to make this work. And the process? You simply blitz it all up in a food processor and you’re done.
It’s also utterly non specific regarding quantity or type of nut. They all work the same and can be whizzed up into a smooth and creamy or rough and chunky peanut butter. You could make almond butter, hazelnut butter, mixed nut butter, or add spices, seeds, chocolate, salt. The possibilities are truly endless.
I find it quite exciting watching these simple transformations take place. That might make me sound a bit simple, but seeing these nuts go from their solid, whole state as tasty, crunchy snacks, through to a rich, mouth coating nut paste is quite magical, and the lack of input required only heightens this. It’s like a spectator sport, you could get a few friends round, chuck a couple of packets of nuts in the food processor and I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone was transfixed by the process. They’d also probably be in awe of the end product, because this process generates heat, so the butter that comes out at the end is warm, ‘hot off the press’ so to speak, not to mention great tasting.
There are several, optional steps to consider when making a nut butter, none of which are necessary, but they can all alter the taste, look or nutritional value of the end product in some way. I’ve given an outline of the different stages below, so that you can understand what they all achieve.
There are a lot of claims regarding the benefits of eating organic food and the virtues of their upbringing, so go ahead and use organic if you want, it might even taste better and be better for you. However, organic or non-organic nuts will both work exactly the same.
OK, I lied, this is one stage which you have to do. Or just buy pre-shelled nuts.
Again, there are nutritional benefits to soaking nuts, but this adds yet another stage into the whole process and you start wondering why you don’t just buy some nut butter from the shop. If you have time or are interested in getting the most out of your nuts, then soak them, which basically involves storing them in water for a few hours or overnight, then dehydrating them afterwards in a warm oven on a very low temperature.
If you de-skin your nuts you will end up with a lighter looking butter, if you leave the skins on it will be flecked and/or a darker butter. Nut skins have nutrients in them, so there is a benefit to leaving them on, plus peeling them is a very laborious job, no matter how ‘easy’ some of the methods you might see online are. I skinned the 500g of peanuts in this recipe and it took 40 minutes to peel them all, not to mention being very tiresome.
You can roast your nuts to give a richer, warmer, almost sweeter flavour. I recommend 10-15 minutes at Gas Mark 5, 375ºF, 191ºC, 171ºC fan, although watch them carefully as nuts burn easily.
Once you complete some, all or none of the above stages, you can go ahead and make your nut butter, which is a walk in the park compared to soaking, skinning and roasting them. I’ve created a comprehensive visual guide to nut butter which you can find below, to show how it looks through the various stages. When you’ve finished and you’ve got a food processor full of rich, warm, smooth, fresh nut butter, be ready with a large spoon to dive in and check it for seasoning. Then, very importantly, check it for sweetness. Check it for texture, making sure it’s smooth enough, then check it for flavour, in case you need any additional flavours, then check it for…
Peanut or any nut butter
By Gavin Wren
Fills 2 x 227g/8oz jars
Uses a food processor
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil, any type is fine, I used coconut oil.
1) Shell your nuts
2) Soak your nuts
3) Skin your nuts
4) Roast your nuts
Once you have completed some, all, or none of the optional steps, place your nuts in a food processor. Pulse it a few times to break the nuts down to a rough texture, then run for a minute at a time, stopping to scrape the nut mixture down the sides of the bowl. The whole process will take several minutes and depend on the speed, power and blade quality of your processor. You can refer to the guide above to see the textures it goes through to achieve the final, super smooth nut butter. If you want crunchy nut butter, add a handful of roughly chopped nuts at the end and stir them through your smooth butter.