Say the words “nut butter” and most people think of peanut butter, the most common nut butter around. But there really are as many nut butters as there are kinds of nuts. Nut butters are another way to consume your favorite nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, cashews and pistachios—and still get a powerful punch of protein, healthful fats, minerals and phytonutrients.
Natural-food stores offer a variety of choices, from peanut, almond and pecan butters to blends of cashews or cashews/walnuts—either freshly ground or commercially prepared. But you also can easily make your own nut butters at home using a food processor. The result is economical, very fresh and especially delicious. Dana Jacobi, who has created nut butter recipes for her cookbooks, including The Essential Best Foods Cookbook (Rodale), explains how to do it…
For peanut, walnut and almond butters, heat the oven to 350°F.
Spread two cups of raw nuts on a baking sheet, and toast the nuts for about eight minutes. Stir after five minutes.
In a food processor, whirl the hot nuts and one-half teaspoon of sea salt for four to five minutes, stopping after each minute to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula. The nuts will progress from finely chopped to a fluffy powder to a dry caked mass and, finally, to creamy nut butter.
Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. Fresh nut butters keep for up to six days. Two cups of nuts make about one cup of nut butter.
For cashew butter, combine one-and-a-half cups of raw cashews with one-half cup of Brazil nuts. The Brazil nuts add body to the cashews, which, on their own, are overly soft and oily. Prepare as above.
For pistachio butter, toast shelled raw pistachios as above. Rub the hot nuts in a dishtowel to remove as much skin as possible. Then add the nuts to the food processor bowl—and prepare as above.