Tree nuts are the edible meat contained within an inedible shell, which obviously grow on trees. Peanuts are a legume rather than a tree nut, and grow underground. Seeds are unrelated to nuts, and are the part of a fruit, flower or vegetable which germinates and produces another plant.
The nutritional value of nuts and seeds is considerable as they are loaded with protein, healthy fats, minerals, and fiber. Nut and seed butters are a relatively inexpensive, convenient, versatile, and palatable way to consume nuts and seeds.
Most commercial peanut butters are loaded with sodium, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated fats. The natural peanut butters are typically only peanuts and salt. The shelf life of nuts is indefinite. Nut butters will last for a month or two room temperature, and six months to a year if refrigerated. .
John Harvey Kellogg, MD, well known for Kellogg cereals, produced peanut butter in 1895. Peanut butter was introduced to the broader public since the 1904 St. Lois World Fair. Peanut butter became a convenient source of portable protein during World Wars I and II, and are still included in MREs.
Since the widespread (Ha Ha) use of peanut butter, and more awareness of nut allergies, and a general desire for a wide variety of food choices, many other nit butters such as almond, cashew, and macadamia are available, as well as seed butters such as sunflower and pumpkin.
Homemade Peanut Butter Ingredients
1) Tree Nuts, Peanuts and Seeds
To make nut butters, you need one ingredient: Nuts. Or peanuts. Or seeds. Use roasted rather than raw nuts for best flavor, and maximum nutrient availability.
OK, you may need two ingredients if using a blender instead of a food processor. You may need to add a little oil to get the blending started. You can use the matching oil; e.g., peanut, almond, etc., or Avocado oil.
Avocado oil is very heart-healthy oil, with a mild, creamy nutty taste, and makes a good addition to any nut butter. It will enhance rather than compete with or clash with the taste. It is packed with even more heart healthy oils, and vitamin E.
All right, you may want a third optional ingredient: salt. Sea salt is made from evaporated sea water. Kosher salt is mined salt without the addition of potassium iodide. Iodine has been added to salt since the 1900’s to prevent goiter in people who lived far inland.
Kosher salt does not contain iodide. The taste is cleaner, and the crystals are larger. Sea salt also does not contain added iodine, and also has a smoother, cleaner taste, not that medicinal twang that accompanies iodized salt. There is conflicting information, but sea salt may contain less sodium than table salt, and may contain at least trace amounts of other minerals, depending on the brand. Another benefit is you don’t need to use as much as a little goes a long way.
You may prefer to add some flavorings to your nut butter. Good options are:
- Cocoa powder
- Maple syrup
Nut butters are versatile. They can be used in a variety of ways:
- Chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie. Blend frozen bananas with milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, honey, and peanut butter
- Peanut butter or almond butter with apples. Combine peanut butter or almond butter, unsalted butter, thin sliced apple, maple syrup, and cinnamon for a sandwich, or Peanut butter spread on apple rings.
- PB with bananas. Peanut butter bananas, and honey on crackers or bread.
- PB on dark chocolate. A square of dark chocolate smeared with Peanut butter or roll Peanut butter into a ball with chocolate chips.
- Almond butter stirred into oatmeal.
- Peanut Butter & Jelly (of course). For best results, use a top quality whole grain or oat bread. Try raspberry or blue berry jam instead of the usual strawberry. Instead of jam, slice strawberries thin and place them on the bread.
Storage & Shelf life
I keep nut butters in sealed plastic containers at room temperature. They will last longer if refrigerated, though I typically consume them so fast that shelf life is not a problem. They can also be stored in squeeze tubes for portability.
How to make basic nut butter
The method is the same: Grind nuts in a blender or food processor until the oils are released and the crushed nuts turn into a paste. You need:
- A blender or food processor
- A wooden spoon for scraping the sides of the blender
- The ingredients listed above, namely:
- Peanuts, seeds, or tree nuts
- A dash of kosher salt, or sea salt if desired
- A small amount of oil to get it started if you are using a blender.
- Add one cup of tree nuts, peanuts of seeds into a blender.
- Blend in high until the contents are pulverized. Stir tbs. of oil if needed, and a dash of salt if desired
- Keep blending. You will have to blend or about five or 10 minutes to turn the contents from a powder to a paste, as the oils are released. You will probably need to scrape the side of the blender with a wooden spoon
You now have basic nut butter.
Six Delicious Butters
1) Chocolate Peanut Butter
This nut butter combines two ingredients which have a famous affinity for each other. Try milk chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips for different flavors. This is very good spread on coarse white bread with butter, or on strawberries. . Peanuts are high in copper, manganese, and vitamin B3, as well as protein and heart healthy fats.
- Dry roasted peanuts
- Chocolate chips
- Peanut or avocado oil
Place peanuts and chocolate chips in the blender. Blend until smooth and an even color scraping the sides of the blender and adding oil as needed.
2) Maple Peanut Butter
The addition of maple syrup adds a sweet, slightly smoky flavor to this nut butter. Use real maple syrup, not that awful High-fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring crap that is called “pancake syrup”.
- 2 cups Dry roasted peanuts
- 2 tbs. Maple syrup
- Peanut or avocado oil
Place peanuts in the blender and blend until smooth, scraping and adding oil as needed. Stir in the maple syrup after you have blended the peanuts, or the mix will thicken too much too blend.
3) Honey-Roasted Peanut Butter
- 2 cups of Honey roasted peanuts
- Peanut oil
- Honey (optional).
Pour the peanuts into the blender and blend, adding peanut oil as needed. If you like this a little sweeter, stir in honey after blending.
above: almond butter
4) Maple Almond Butter
This earthy, smoky, sweet nut butter is a very good spread on apples, or stirred into oatmeal. . Almonds are an especially nutrient dense nut. A one ounce serving contains six Gms of protein, 3.5 Gms of fiber, 200 mg of potassium, and 75 mg of calcium among other nutrients.
- 2 cups almonds
- Almond oil
- 2 tbs. Maple syrup
Place almonds in blender and blend until smooth. Add almond oil or avocado oil if needed. Scrape the almond butter out of the blender. Stir in maple syrup. If you add the maple syrup to the blender, the mix will thicken too much to blend.
above: almond butter
5) Sunflower & Pumpkin Seed butter
This is a good choice for people with peanut and tree nut allergies. Blended pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds will turn in a rather unappealing green paste, but it tastes so good, and is so good for you. Pumpkin seeds are a superfood; they are loaded with antioxidants, protein, magnesium, zinc, Phosphorus and copper. Sunflower seeds are also very healthy, and packed with Vitamins B1 and E, and copper.
- 1 cups Sunflower seeds
- 1 cup Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower, pumpkin seed, and or avocado oil
- Dash of Kosher salt or sea salt.
Pour the sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds into the blender. Blend and scrape the sides of the blender, adding oil as needed.
6) Mixed Nut & Seed butter
Use any combination of peanuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds. The procedure is the same; run them through a blender with a little oil if needed, and a pinch of salt if desired.
The more skills you have, the better. Being able to produce your own nut butter is one more small step to becoming self-sufficient. This is also a fun activity for kids to assist with. As I have noted in other articles, competence in the kitchen is an essential skill. Peanut butter is a beloved American food. Keep American culture and traditions alive through cuisine.