Peanut allergies are serious business these days. If your kids have an insatiable love affair with the classic PB&J, a school ban on peanut products can be a seemingly insurmountable lunchtime tragedy. Grocery store alternatives like soy butter, cashew butter and a certain popular chocolate-and-hazelnut spread are available, but they can be expensive and aren’t necessarily as healthy as one might hope. Unless buying natural peanut butters, it may be tough to know what additives might be included or just how much sugar is in there.
Got a food processor? If so, nut butters made from peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts or other nuts are just a few minutes away, and you’ll feel good about what isn’t in there. That’s not to say that a sweet and chocolately hazelnut spread isn’t within reach, but made at home, it may taste even better as you tweak the ingredients to your heart’s desire.
Making nut butters at home isn’t just for peanut-wary parents. Using a variety of nuts and flavorings and adjusting sweeteners (or skipping them altogether) turns lunchtime into something special that parents and kids can be happy about.
Here is a basic recipe to get you started on the road to homemade nut butters. Consider adding cinnamon, chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla or other spices to taste!
Start with 2 cups of selected nuts. Different nuts offer different taste and mouth feel. Peanuts are a good place to start for first timers. Here we are using walnuts.
Process nuts in food processor until finely ground and beginning to break down. Depending on the nut and food processor, this can take several minutes.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of canola oil, a little at a time, and continue to process nuts. Consistency will slowly change, becoming creamy and smooth. Continue to add oil a little at a time until desired texture is reached (some nuts will require more oil than others).
Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons honey. At this stage, any other desired flavorings can be added to taste.
Once desired taste and consistency is reached, spoon nut butter into an airtight container for storage. Oil may separate from the butter while stored (shown here) and may need to be stirred back in. Shelf life of refrigerated nut butter is 6 to 8 weeks.