There’s just something about nut butter that sticks around.
Growing up, I was definitely a peanut butter gal. I vaguely recall peanut butter and honey sandwiches in preschool. And peanut butter and jelly was what Mom packed for me on field trips or whenever we ran out of ham and cheese (my other staple). But I even ate just plain bread with peanut butter slathered inside, unsticking my tongue from the roof of my mouth with the most un-obnoxious suction sound I could muster. Peanut butter between Ritz crackers. Or graham crackers. In college, I ate peanut butter by the spoonful with my Rice Krispies cereal. Always store-bought. And if you must know, I was loyal to the brand that begins with J and rhymes with cliff.
Before swim practice, I sometimes bought a pack of peanuts from a vending machine, and was delighted the day a friend showed me how to stuff a bunch of peanuts in my mouth at once and chew them without swallowing to make peanut butter.
And that’s pretty much how you make nut butter.
If you prefer the kind that hasn’t been regurgitated, a food processor is the way to go.
We’re out of peanuts, so today I made almond butter using Alana Chernila‘s recipe in her book, The Homemade Pantry. I roasted some almonds (1 pound) in the oven (350F for 15 minutes) to bring out their nuttiness. After they had cooled, I whizzed them up in the food processor with a little bit of honey (a spoonful) and salt (half teaspoon). When it looked like almond meal, I drizzled in a little oil (3.5 tablespoons). It looked like bread crumbs. and then play-doh. And then. THEN.
When did the transition happen – the transition when you discover that the foods of your childhood are suddenly overly sweet, annoyingly packaged, or disappointingly manipulated to call forth some nostalgic emotion because it just doesn’t taste quite the same? The transition when homemade, even the simplest homemade items, are suddenly far superior and satisfying?
It’s said that as we age, our taste buds die, which explains why kids often can’t tolerate the taste of extremely bitter foods – because they’re tasting it like listening to music with the volume at 100 when 30 would be plenty sufficient. Is there something about loss of taste buds or otherwise aging that makes the homemade more appealing?
It’s also said that children smile on average 400 times per day. Adults on average smile less than 20 times each day. Making your own nut butter and savoring it with your tastebuds (dying though they may be) will definitely make you smile. Maybe even more than 20 times in one day.
Who knew making nut butter was so simple?? I knew. And yet I only just now got around to doing it. If you haven’t started making your own, don’t wait as long as I did. You’ll be done in less than half an hour. You can alter the basic recipe to include a mix of nuts and spices, chocolate, even fruit of your choosing. (Check out this local guy’s inspiring flavors). That’s what I’ll be doing for the next couple months while we continue to hibernate through the tail end of winter.
P.S. Alana recommends storing your homemade nut butters in the fridge for up to 1 month. If it hasn’t disappeared before then.