One day, while wandering the aisles of a grocery store, we got unusually excited about the idea of multiple kinds of nut butter. And so – after months of dreams and cravings – we finally did it.
We made butter from pecans, almonds, peanuts, cashew, pistachios, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds (yes, we realize that’s not a nut) and walnuts.
This medley isn’t exhaustive. I’m sure there are all kinds of other nuts that could be made into a creamy spread. Tim isn’t crazy about brazil nuts, so we skipped those. Macadamia nuts could not be procured in time for our experiment, unfortunately. I’m also interested in trying pumpkin seed butter and chestnut butter. Another time…
Peanut butter is the standard, the classic, but it is not the end of the story when it comes to nut butters. Almond and cashew butter are pretty common nowadays and can be found at most grocery stories (but I will say, they’re usually more expensive than peanut butter). Some places – like natural food stores and Wegmans – even have machines that allow you to personally grind your own butters on demand. Sunflower seed butter/sunbutter can be procured pretty easily too. However, things like hazelnut butter or walnut butter are more difficult to come by. Which is ok, because they’re not hard to make.
A word about sunflower seed butter, aka sunbutter: Sunflowers don’t have the some of the allergenic properties sadly bestowed upon tree and groundnuts – peanuts in particular. So, many people use sunflower seed butter as an alternative to nut butters. This is all well and good. However, be aware that there is a difference.
- First, the taste. The taste is very, very, very different. You might like, you might not (we don’t really).
- Secondly, when you bake with sunflower seed butter things go a little crazy. As in, sunflower seed butter cookies will turn green on the inside (and on the inside only). This isn’t the end of the world – you won’t die if you eat one of these cookies (I can vouch for that). It’s just the chlorogenic acid, which is totally natural and not something to freak out about.
- And three, a small percent of people who have nut allergies are allergic to sunflower seeds too.
Making Nut Butter
Making nut butter is not difficult. It’s simple really.
We purchased all of our nuts in bulk, so we could get as much as we wanted or as little.
You can either roast your nuts or leave them raw.
You can use coconut oil, peanut oil, walnut oil, canola oil, or ghee (clarified butter). We suggest starting with just a little oil and adding more as you go. More oil will give you a creamier end result.
We recommend sea salt. And start with a little – add more as you go.
In the belly of a food processor, process all of the above. You do not need to measure anything. Eyeball it. Trust yourself. Continue to process the nuts, scraping down the bowl from time to time. Add oil and salt to taste.
And then you have options:
Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, chili powder, cayenne…Experiment. Trust your own tastebuds.
We put cinnamon and nutmeg in the cashew butter and sunflower seed butter, cinnamon in the pecan butter and cinnamon and clove in the walnut butter.
Honey, molasses and maple syrup are our favorite options, but sugar or sucanat could also be used.
This provides a nice, rich undertone. We added it to our pistachio butter, sunflower seed butter and cashew butter.
Continue to process until everything it’s creamy. We suggest storing it in mason jar, in the fridge, or at the very least out of direct sunlight. We suggest licking the bowl and spoon when you are done. No waste.
The varieties we made:
Un-toasted nuts yielded a chunky (but not unpleasant) end result. It was spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and sweetened with honey. This was Tim’s favorite and my second favorite.
Our least favorite. It had similar texture to the walnut butter: it stayed on a spoon rather nicely. We added cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and honey but were over all unimpressed. Even roasting the seeds didn’t improve the flavor much.
Our hazelnuts were roasted, briefly. Thick when cooled, a bit goopy at room temperature and would separate. No spices or sweeteners were added; just nuts, coconut oil and salt. Tim wasn’t crazy about this one, leading me to believe you really have to like hazelnuts to enjoy this butter. (Also, hazelnut butter is one half of Nutella, in case you were wondering.)
The raw, green nuts produce a green-brown paste. Again, no spices here, but we did add honey and vanilla. The pistachio was Tim’s second favorite.
The fat in cashews yielded a creamier blend than the walnut or sunflower seed butter. We added a little cinnamon to ours, but have previously made it with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and honey.
Chunky Peanut Butter
Our peanuts got toasted a smidge too long. Personally, I didn’t mind. No spices or sweeteners were added. A good bit of salt was used. Once the base had been created, we went back and added more whole nuts for crunch, but you could leave it smooth too.
We toasted our almonds and added honey to the blend. This was the runniest of the butters we made but next time that can be amended by not adding as much oil. And keeping it in the fridge will keep it thick. This was my personal favorite.
We call this the “dessert butter.” We toasted the pecans and then processed them with molasses (later realizing that maple syrup would have been a lovely combination) and cinnamon. The texture is thick and rather heavy.
Mixed Nut Butter
Yep. It can be done and it’s not a bad idea either. We’ve done walnut/cashew/pecan and cashew/almond. But I’d like to try walnut/pistachio.
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