Raw Nut and Seed Butters
One of the best things you can spread on your toast in the morning is a homemade nut butter. Why ? because nuts are full of healthy omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fats, contain lots of vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytochemicals and are a good source of protein. Making your own nut butter, not only allows you to experiment with nuts other than peanuts, but also means you will be sure about what is in the jar. Over the counter brands can be full of additives, high sugar and high saturated or modified fat.
- Chose good quality, as fresh as possible raw nuts. Good nuts or seeds to choose include walnut, almonds, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds or pecan nuts. Around three cups of nuts or one and a half cups of seeds makes one cup of butter.
- Put the nuts into a food processor and whizz them for 10-15 minutes. Stop every now and then to push the nuts or seeds back down. Initially they will be grainy like sand but with time the oil binds the grains and the contents will become buttery.
- Put in a jar or pot and enjoy.
- Although the above method works well, most recipes and ready made butters are either sweetened, have added salt or include extra oil to make a smoother paste.
- Nuts/seeds can be roasted but need to be cool before processing. Roasting gives a sweeter nutty flavour and generally brings processing times down.
- Nuts/seeds can be soaked or sprouted before processing but need to be cool and dry before processing.
Ingredients : 2 cups peanuts, pinch salt, oil (the oil is optional – peanut oil is ideal but any tasteless oil is ok).
Shelled/unshelled/roasted/dry roasted: If you buy shelled peanuts you need to shell them and remove the red skins. Raw peanuts give a creamy smooth texture that is slightly claggy, roasting makes the taste sweeter and the texture softer, unsalted peanuts are best as salt can be added later and the salted varieties can end up being too salty.
Method : Put the nuts into the blender and chop. In 2-3 minutes the mix starts to clump but it will take 8-10 to become buttery. You will need to keep pushing the mixture down towards the blades. Most peanuts do not contain enough oil to make a really smooth butter so you may need to add around 1tsp of oil towards the end of blending. If the mix is too stiff for the blender, you can mix this with a fork. Add salt, honey or sugar to taste.
Ingredients : 2cups walnuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1tsp walnut oil, little honey or cinnamon to taste.
Raw/Soaked/roasted: If you use raw walnuts you get a very creamy smooth texture that tastes like a shelled walnut. To use soaked walnuts, soak overnight to remove the tannin and then dry carefully, making sure they are cool and dry before processing. Soaked walnuts generally give a more textured butter. To enhance the sweet nutty flavour of the nut you can roast them in a single layer for 8-10mins at 180C and then allow to cool before blitzing.
Method : put the nuts into the bowl of the processor and grind until they become paste-like. Add the salt and then the oil a dribble at a time until the butter binds together. Add honey or cinnamon to taste.
CINNAMON PUMPKIN SEED BUTTER
A plain pumpkin seed butter can be made in a similar way to the above but for a change….
Ingredients : 3 cups raw pumpkin seeds, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
Method : Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix the pumpkin seeds and cinnamon to coat seeds evenly. Put the seeds on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15mins until slightly browning. Allow to cool. Put mix into a processor and blitz. Occasionally scrape sides down and continue until forms a ball and then starts to look like a butter. Add maple syrup to taste and to get desired consistency.
Ingredients : 2cups hazelnuts, 1cup caster sugar, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 2 tbs hazelnut (or other tasteless) oil, 1tsp vanilla extract, pinch of salt
Method : Preheat oven to 180C. Spread hazelnuts in single layer on a baking sheet and roast until dark brown (12-15mins – turning half way through). After roasting shake nuts in the bowl to remove all the brown skins. Once the skins are removed, put nuts into the a food processor and blitz until they form a loose paste. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, oil, vanilla extract and salt and continue blitzing until its smooth.
Although this recipe appears high sugar, its worth noting that the real thing list sugar as it top ingredient and is only 13% hazelnut.
Nut butters will keep for 1-3months in the fridge and can be frozen.