Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Homemade Nut Butter

In the midst of all of the recalls of peanut, peanut paste and peanut butter containing products (click here for a full list of recalled items and destroy or return all listed items), a friend of mine made some home made nut butter. I’m a great fan of from-scratch cooking, but don’t always have the time to make everything I’d like. This nut butter, however, from Nourishing Traditions, was so easy and delicious that I may never buy prepared nut butter again!

First, soak 2 cups of nuts. Soaking nuts makes them easier to digest and changes their flavor in an interesting way. Soaked nuts can also be used to make pates and smoothies. I soaked 1 c. almonds and 1 c. cashews overnight. Drain and rinse.

Second, roast or dry the nuts. I don’t like the idea of “cooking” nuts because of the effects on the oils contained in them, but you can slow roast them in a low oven for 10-12 hours or put them in a dehydrator to minimize the oxidation. After the drying, the nuts are a delicious snack – if you don’t make the nut butter right away, you’ll be surprised how quickly these nuts disappear as a quick snack.

Third, grind the nuts to a coarse or fine powder depending on your preference for a chunky or smooth nut butter. If you want chunky, I recommend that you grind ½ finely and ½ more coarsely. You can grind the nuts in a coffee grinder, food processor or dry blender. After grinding, combine in food processor with approx 1/3 c. coconut oil, ¼ tsp. sea salt and 1-2 Tbsp. honey. Process until well blended. Store covered in a cool, dry cupboard – enjoy at room temperature in sandwiches, on apples, as a dessert topping or by itself.

Coconut oil is also a great oil for cooking, even at higher temperatures due to its saturated nature. I have used it for stir fries, Indian food, single veggies and especially in baking (just make sure to get it to liquid form before adding!). It gives a slightly sweet flavor to the food and carries spice well. As with any fat or oil, don’t overdo it.