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Homemade Almond Butter

February 7, 2013

I’ve posted about making almond butter before, but here’s a more comprehensive explanation.  I started making my own almond butter about six months ago when I just kind of got tired of peanut butter on my toasted bagel.  You can get almond butter from the grocery store, but it’s crazy expensive – maybe half again the cost of peanut butter – and if you get any kind of organic version to avoid additives you’re probably looking at double what a jar of peanut butter would be.  Besides, it’s ridiculously easy to make your own if you have a food processor.

You can also do this with other nuts if you like – I made almond, cashew, and peanut butters that I gave as gifts for Christmas this year.

Your best bet is to start with unsalted nuts so you can add in just the amount of salt you want at the end and you don’t run the risk of it being too salty.  For my Christmas gifts, I ordered roasted, unsalted peanuts and cashew pieces from a wholesale place called Nutsite that had a really reasonable price for the cashews.  I got pieces since I was going to grind them up anyway, so that made the price even better than buying whole cashews!  While these nuts were billed as roasted, they seem to me to be only lightly roasted and when I want to make more butters with them, I’ll probably start by roasting them a little more on my own.

IMG_2076Start by roasting your nuts (don’t take that the wrong way!).  Lay the nuts on a sheet pan in a single layer and roast at 300 degrees in your oven for 10 minutes.  Stir the nuts around a bit and roast for another 10 minutes.  Keep doing this until the nuts are as toasted as you like.  I usually go 30-40 minutes, depending on the amount of nuts on the pan.  More nuts will take longer to roast.  We’ve become totally addicted to snacking on these plain, toasted almonds so I tend to roast more than I need to make butter.  Allow them to cool completely before you make them into almond butter.  If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the nuts whispering – they crackle and hiss and snap a little bit as they cool on the pan!

For the almond butter, take 2 cups of the toasted almonds, put them in the bowl of your food processor, and just start whizzing them around!  Really, that’s all there is to it!  You’ll be able to see as the nuts are ground finer and finer as they go.  You’ll probably have to stop every so often and scrape down the sides of the bowl, since the nut bits tend to build up around the side just from the action of the blade.

IMG_2090At first, it will seem like you’re just getting really finely ground nuts but after you let it go for a while (maybe 2 minutes with breaks for scraping) you’ll see that the stuff in the bowl is starting to clump up as the oil starts to be released from the nuts.

Keep grinding, and very soon this will start to look more and more like a paste.  Keep grinding, even after you think it’s ready!  The first time I made this, my butter came out really dry and thick and I think it’s because I stopped grinding too soon.  So let it go for 30 seconds or so after you think it’s done, just to make it that much smoother.

IMG_2093Ultimately, this is what you end up with – it’s smooth and creamy, but not commercially-processed smooth.  There is a little “tooth” to this butter, just a little gritty crunch that lets you know it’s homemade.  If you like a crunchy nut butter, you can reserve half a cup or so of nuts when you first start grinding them and then mix the bits back in at the end.

This butter will be pretty soft and loose from the heat of the food processor, so it will tighten up a bit and get thicker when it cools

IMG_2095Finally, add in the seasoning.  I like just a little salt and a little sweet in my almond butter.  For a batch of this size, I add in half a teaspoon of Kosher style flake salt.  The type of salt you use matters in how much you add – if you have a coarser salt, add more; finer salt, add less.  I also put in about a tablespoon of something sweet.  Usually I use honey, but our jug has totally crystallized and I didn’t feel like heating it up today so I used maple syrup this time.  There is a little maple flavor to the finished butter, but it’s not overwhelming – just enough to give it a little sweetness.

Starting with 2 cups of nuts will give you a little more than a cup of butter when you’re all finished.  Store in a glass jar.  I recommend keeping this in the fridge since it doesn’t have any preservatives to keep it from going fuzzy.  This will also make the butter really thick, so you may want to let it sit out for a bit before using to make it more spreadable.

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