Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegan MoFo Day 8: Make Your Own Adventure in Nut Butters

Nut butter can be expensive. Especially the raw kind. Unless you live near a Trader Joe's or your grocery store has a wider selection than the standard peanut butter you might not even see such awesome choices as almond, brazil nut or cashew butters. My grocery stores have such offerings in the "healthy" food section-ringing up at $8 to $12 dollars a jar. Ouch!

We are lucky to have a lovely local food co-op that allows members to make bulk purchases as needed. This makes purchasing organic, raw nuts very affordable for our family. Last month we found on sale and purchased a 25 pound case of organic almonds for nut milks, butters and raw desserts, a 25 pound case of walnuts for the same purposes, and the month before that a 25 pound case of cashews for, you guessed it, nut milk, butters and raw desserts. Cashews also lend themselves to making raw cheeses and pates. So much fun! The other night, Husband and I realized we were nearly out of tahini-and having just picked up a 5 pound bag of sesame seeds, I decided to embark on a tasty nut butter adventure of the mediterranean type. Step 1-Get out your food processor.
Just don't do whatever the Warning is telling you not to do. Pick up spiny sea urchins? Throw Ninja Stars? You decide.
Step 1 can also involve a Vita Mix or Blendtec blender. But I tend to make a large batch at once and the food processor is my chosen implement of destruction.

Step 2-Pick your nuts/seeds. As we mentioned, Sesame is on the menu today. Don't like raw butters? Roast your sesame seeds first in an oven on low heat for a couple of minutes.
Yep, Sesame Seeds. Says so right there.
Step 3-Add to food processor bowl. Guesstimate about how much you want to put in there. There's no right or wrong answer.
This will work.
Step 4-Turn it on!
Spin baby spin.
Now we play the waiting game. I find that sesame seeds, cashews, and walnuts turn into butter fairly quickly. Raw almonds will take the longest, at upwards of twenty minutes. Yep, twenty. Just when you think you are wasting your time and the food processor starts to overheat, bingo-you hit the sweet spot of creamy nut butter.

Luckily, it's not hard to tell when you've reached it.
This is not it. Keep going.
I sort of timed how long this batch took to make. And by sort of, I mean not really. And by timed, I mean I took pictures of the wall, floor, ceiling, entire kitchen complete with Husband not paying attention (I can't really believe I'm going to post it, the mess makes me cringe), the kiddo as she runs in and out of the room, the baby as she watches me in the swing, and some more shots of the food processor spinning. Outtakes, you know.

But don't tell your husband you took this photo, just post it on the blog. He loves surprises.
Back to the nut butter. 3? 5? minutes later, I stopped the machine, scraped the sides and turned it back on. And watched.
Entertaining for a short while.
Let's discuss the Almost-There-But-Not-Really issue. At some point you will see the butter forming a large ball and the standard reaction is "Ding! Butter done!"

No. It is not.
Scrape down the sides and keep going. Just a few more moments, I promise. It could be 30 seconds, it could be 2 minutes, but the ball will disappear and then the real creaminess will shine through with all the natural nut oils helping things along.
In the meantime, pour all those tiny seeds into a giant container. Don't spill them. You'll think you swept them all up but in fact will be finding them years later, trust me on that one.
After the ball disappears, check the machine periodically, as is comfortable for you. I don't really think this sort of thing can be over processed, so go ahead and stare at the wall for awhile do something productive for a moment.
Fin: Creamy, delicious nut butter.

I know there's not much difference between the last picture and this one, despite this one having a strange color cast (I fail at fixing in Photoshop) but when you are actively doing this in the field, you will be able to tell the difference by touching and tasting. Also if you try to spread it on something, the texture will be evident. Practice! Do not be disappointed by small set backs! This is the advice I have for you.

Step, um, I forget. Pour your butter into a glass mason jar, recycled other-kind-of-jar, plastic tub, whatever floats your boat. Label and enjoy. No matter what direction your adventure takes, the results are just as tasty. Now if you'll excuse me, there are some almonds that need to be pulverized in the refrigerator. Huzzah!


Dawn said...

I've made sunflower butter a couple times, but I always forget I could make my own nut butter. That's great!

Sarah said...

Thanks for proving with pictures it can be done! I usually get frustrated and quit.

Mandee said...

I really loved reading this, your blog is entertaining!

I would love to make my own tahini, I will give it a go one day!

chrisasaurus said...

Well at least I have a shirt on this time... wouldn't want to scare anyone!

rach said...

Dawn, sunflower sounds great. I must try it soon!
No probs Sarah! I got frustrated with it before as well.
Mandee, you are sweet!

Of course you do hun, it's a family blog after all!

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I have made my own butter before and always underestimate the time it takes to get them super creamy.

windycityvegan said...

Holy cats, it *just now* dawned on me that I can make my own tahini. I have made nut butters in the past, but seeing your big ol' bag of sesame seeds is what it took to make the light bulb go on.

Love the blog, and love that I'm not the only one with an affinity for canning supplies!

rach said...

Today I timed making almond butter: 36 minutes to creaminess! Oy vey.

Islaborg said...

Thank you for posting this! I have always been frustrated when it comes to making homemade nut butters, I thought my food processor wasn't strong enough but you inspired me to give it another try tonight and I successfully made peanut butter and tahini, I am SO thrilled.

I also included your post in my weekly mofo roundup. :)