03 September 2013

Nut and Seed Butters (GF, Raw)

Backstory:  For years, I got value brand peanut butter.  I prefer smooth peanut butter and the value brand is chunky, but it's so inexpensive and tastes fine, so my frugal side won out.  Then one day, the value brand changed its ingredients and it was too runny and way too sweet.  Bummer.  On the up-side, that's when I decided to just start making my own nut butters and realised it cost less than the value brand (and it didn't have to be chunky!), even if I used fancier nuts or seeds, like sunflower and pumpkin! 

Not quite enough oil.
Most of my recipes are made with simple ingredients and don't require fancy tools or anything, but for this, you will need a good food processor (I've heard rumour some people use fancy blenders, but I don't want you showing up at my house and shaking your broken Vitamix in my face) or, like me, a lousy food processor and swanky masticating juicer.

Enough oil and ready for jarring.
Basically, you dump all your nuts or seeds into a food processor and let it run, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally, for 10-20 minutes, depending on the nut, and eventually, they turn, magically, from ground and broken up nuts, into a delicious nutty spread.  Actually, they start to clump up into little balls and can look a bit greasy as the oils are released -- check the consistency as you go.  Add oil (a little at a time so you don't over-do it -- you can skip this, but some butters are too dry to spread without a little help from our friend, oil) at the end and salt and sweeteners and whatever other stuff you so choose.  I don't like adding salt and sweeteners to my nut butters, so I just leave it at that.  Anyway, scoop that shizzle into a jar and you're all-set.

Whoa-whoa-whoa!  Back that shiitake up!  10-20 minutes, you say?!!  Yes, 10-20 minutes.  (I read it just takes about 2 minutes for macadamia nuts, but I haven't tried them.  YET!)  This is where the quality of your food processor comes into play.  My food processor is a piece of shiitake and started smelling funny after about 5 minutes and my nuts still looked like chunks.  I had to either turn it off and let it cool down or come up with a different plan.

My masticating juicer is a real piece of work.  I had no idea when I bought it -- I got it because it was a great price for a masticating juicer -- but afterward,  I found all these youtube videos showing all the crazy stuff you can make with it, including soymilk!  Anyway, it has a grinding cone, so I ran the food-processed nuts through the juicer several times and suddenly, the texture changed from powdery to clumpy.  I ran it through a couple more times and then transferred it back to my food processor to add the oil and continue as if my food processor weren't a cheap piece of shiitake.

Some notes:  
Brazil Nuts Going Through the Juicer.  We're ready to jar!
Sunflower Seeds Going Through the Juicer.  They look
like this when they are ready to go back to the food processor.
  • Store raw nut butters in your refrigerator -- they are more likely, especially seed butters, to go rancid, although this has never happened to me.   
  • The amount of oil you need and the processing time can really vary.  For example, brazils have a high oil content and you don't need to add oil to them at the end.  They also turn to nut butter really fast and I can actually make this nut butter in my food processor without needing the juicer (although it's faster in the juicer).  Sunflower seed butter needs a ton of oil and takes a bit of time to convert.
  • You can roast your nuts or have them raw -- I have them raw because I'm too lazy/impatient to roast them and I like the taste of raw nut butters.  Some people suggest soaking nuts overnight and then dehydrating them first because it makes them easier to digest, but I don't soak my nuts before eating them and, again, I'm lazy and impatient, so I don't soak and dehydrate my nuts before making them into nut butter.
  • If you want chunky nut butter, add some more nuts and let them process into chunks for a minute or two when your nut butter is almost done.
  • If, after jarring, you find your nut butter is too runny, the excess oil will usually rise to the top of the jar and you can pour it out and use it to fry onions in one of my other recipes.  If it's too dry, add a tsp or so of oil at a time and stir it in with a knife.
SBJammy Sammies.
Bonus Day at Boscov's!  Carob NOTella:  Leftover nut butter?  Not quite enough to fill a jar?  Add some carob powder (or cocoa powder, or cacao powder), a splash of non-dairy milk, and the sweetener of your choice.  Process until smooth, pausing every so often to scrape down the sides and to check taste and consistency.

Remember my One Potato Lentil Soup friend? Her daughter has a nut and sesame seed allergy.  But since she doesn't have a sunflower seed allergy, I'm sending her a jar of my Sunflower 'nut' butter.


  1. I really like this post, it's full of so many useful and straightforward tips and it's made me feel that I could definitely make my own nut butters at home now (which is good because I eat a lot of it!), although I've never even heard of a masticating juicer before - where do you get one from?

    1. Masticating juicers are the ones that juice wheatgrass. I got mine from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Matstone-6-1-Juicer-Burgundy/dp/B000OTQ3QW

      The upside is that the leftover pulp from juicing is really dry because it juices so efficiently and the juicer is really very versatile. The downside is the price and that you have to chop everything into chunks first.

      Also, blitz nuts in a food processor (or coffee grinder) first because they are so hard and dry, put the processed nuts in slowly the first time, and grind them without the grinder cover on (trust me on all this -- I broke a part once, the first time I made peanut butter).

      I have a value immersion blender (£4.76 at ASDA!!) and a value slow-cooker. The juicer is my only kitchen splurge, but it's so nice.

    2. Thanks for the tips :) I'll be checking them out.

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