Back to Basics: Culinary Fundamentals (how to make nut butters)

It’s been a rough couple of days out here at the lake. Over a foot of snow and it’s still coming down. On Saturday night we had the misfortune of living on the only street that lost power.

Gee, how could that have happened?

No one came out to fix it until about 24 hours later. Priorities people. There are only five or six houses in our neighbourhood that are occupied at this time of the year. I guess cottage country is the lowest on the totem pole, as it were. We made it into a good day though, playing in the snow with the little ones and heading into town (where only 1cm fell) to have breakfast at the in-laws (thanks guys!). It’s a good thing our compact SUV fit under that tree!

We had dinner (cheese, crackers, veggies, winter ale…perfection) by candlelight as we sat in front of our woodstove and read books. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a snowy evening.

What it did make me think of was my Back to Basics series. Lack of power in this day and age, for any length of time is a pain in the behind, a big one. The fridge gone, the stove gone, the heat, the television, music, computer, lights, everything. It really makes you wonder how people got along without it!

Given that I’ve been using an electric food processor and a stand mixer for each post so far, I can’t say that they are truly as basic as they could be, but I hope that my readers would appreciate the ease in which you can make all of these foods. If you happen to have a hand cranked mixer or grinder, than go right ahead. I will continue to stick with my electric ones for now, thank you very much.

Today in our next post of the Culinary Fundamentals Series, I will show you how to make nut butters. An everyday food in our household, they are a lot easier than you think of to make. If you can find dry roasted, pre shelled nuts, all you have to do is grind them and you have nut butters. But let’s take a closer look at the details:

Nut Butters

Hazelnuts
Peanuts
Almonds

Or

Whatever nut you would like

1. Nuts should be dry roasted, shelled and preferably unsalted (this is so you can control the salt).
2. If you cannot find already dry roasted unsalted nuts, then here is a short instruction list:

  • Shell nuts and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • In a preheated 375°F oven, roast for 8-10 minutes. But make sure you watch the nuts after five minutes or so to prevent burning. (This guideline is for any tree nuts and peanuts)
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.

3. Pour nuts into bowl of a food processor and whizz until creamy, scraping down sides as necessary. Depending on the nut you use, you may find it necessary to add oil to make a creamier product. Choose neutral oils for best results, or try nut oils for a complimentary flavour (such as macadamia or walnut).
4. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature or infinitely longer in the refrigerator (Best to refrigerate walnut and pecan butters immediately to prevent rancidity.)
5. Like any nut butters, yours may separate. This is normal. Stir before using to incorporate the oil back into the nuts.


Additions:

Any nut butter can be taken to the next level of flavour and smoothness with the addition of several things, try some of these in yours:

  • vanilla extract
  • salt
  • powdered sugar
  • honey or agave nectar
  • cocoa powder (nutella anyone?)

Delicious recipes to use your nut butters in:

Idle Hand Bars (a sweet and salty take on Nanaimo Bars) on Guilty Kitchen
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies on Guilty Kitchen
Almond Butter Cookies on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef
Almond Soba Noodles on 101 Cookbooks
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups on Pete Bakes!

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