I wrote on my healthy living site, Food Blogger on a Diet, about how much I’ve come back to eat (and let myself enjoy) nut butters recently. I probably have some every day, and now I make my own!
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Peanut butter was pretty difficult to find when I first moved to Italy; even in Rome where there are a few “international food stores” (like Castroni), portions were small, expensive, and often brands I didn’t recognize.
Now it’s easier to find peanut butter, and even some bigger / normal grocery stores will carry a jar. I find that Skippy peanut butter is most common; I think that’s because the brand, while an American brand, is very popular in the Philippines and so it gets imported for them. But there are ingredients on the label I don’t recognize, so I don’t buy it.
I often stick jars of all-natural peanut butter, sunflower seed butter, or almond butter in my luggage when I come back to Italy from a trip to the US or UK. But as my trip schedule can be unpredictable, more recently I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own.
My cupboard is full of nuts and seeds – they make great toppings for yogurt, oatmeal, and salads; they make a great go-to snack while traveling or just in the afternoon. I started stocking up on raw, unsalted nuts when I realized some of my (used-to-be-favorite) nut brands include flavor enhancers like yeast extract to flavor them (read about why I think flavor enhancers should be avoided in my How to Make Chicken Stock & avoid MSG post). If you buy nuts, make sure the label says, NUTS and nothing else. A little salt is ok, but you might even enjoy it more if you salt them yourself – at least you can control the amount that way.
Raw, unsalted nuts mean I have a great raw material to cook with, to make into something else, and for normal snacking. Now when I snack on almonds, I don’t eat the whole bag. :)
So when my beloved almond butter was running low and there was no stocking-up trip on the near horizon, I decided to just do it myself. It’s so easy, it’s almost ridiculous to write up a recipe. The most important thing you need is patience – they will turn into butter! Try it yourself and let me know any variations you take on the recipe.
Homemade Almond Butter
Note: I’ve tried it both ways, and I absolutely encourage you to use roasted (pre-roasted, or roasted at home) almonds – it definitely, definitely makes a delicious difference. I also think almonds with the skin on make the best butter.
Unsalted almonds (if already toasted, skip step 1)
A food processor
Pinch salt, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes. Check halfway through and give them a shake / mix them up so they are toasted on both sides. Make sure they don’t burn, so keep an eye on them! Let the almonds cool for 30-60 minutes, until they are cool to the touch.
- In your food processor, put the almonds in, set it to a medium or high setting, and let it do its magic! It will take time (even 10-15 minutes of continuous blending) so if you need to stop it every so often to let it cool down or to scrape the sides of the processor, do so. The almonds will go from powdery dry chunks to chunky clumps, and finally you’ll start to see a sheen as the oil in them starts breaking down. Depending on how chunky or smooth you want your almond butter (I like mine extra chunky) you’ll want to be extra patient.
Here’s mine closer to the end – this is when I added just a bit of salt and tasted it after blending:
And when it was ready, I poured it into a jar that was almost empty and put it in the fridge! I suggest putting it in the fridge unless you’re planning to consume it quickly (within a week). I’ve had mine for about 2 months now and it’s still good; many sites suggest 3 months is max. You can also freeze almond butter, but I never have; so if you have let others know in the comments!
Will you try to make your own almond butter? Do you prefer another nut instead?