Mara Abbott’s nut butter

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The fun thing about making nut butters is that they are endlessly versatile. You can hone your favourite recipe or go for the “kitchen sink” approach and just toss in whatever you have on hand.

The essential thing to have to make nut-buttering enjoyable is a food processor. When I say a food processor, I mean a FOOD PROCESSOR. A regular blender will be tough but possible. I even find that high powered blenders, such as Vitamix, aren’t as good as the food processor because they have a more narrow base. The broad base allows you to not have to stop and scrape nut bits down from the sides every ten seconds – maybe only every minute or two instead! A nut butter making mission in Girona with Ella editor Jessi Braverman was thwarted because it appears that the food processor is not as ubiquitous in Spain as elsewhere. That being said, it is in my opinion totally worth it to go to whatever lengths necessary to secure one. If necessary, you can even resort to amazon.com.

Quick aside: I found my food processor for free on the side of the road a few years ago. I suspect someone was cleaning out old wedding gifts they had never used or something. In any case, I was mid-ride and knew that it wouldn’t be there if I went home and came back again with a backpack or appropriate carrying sack, so I took it apart and stashed the pieces in the straps of my bibs and rode home with extreme care. So with a bit of luck, you can even get one for free!

Ingredients

  • Nuts
  • Mix-ins of choice

Get creative. You can include anything! Almonds, peanuts, cashews, coconut, walnuts, sea salt, maple syrup, honey, cinnamon – all fair game!

Preparation

  1. Place selected nuts/seeds in the food processor. Warn any roommates that you are about to make a lot of noise. Turn it on.
  2. As the nuts turn to powder, the food processor will kick them up against the sides of the container. When you see that the blade is not catching much in the bottom anymore, use a spatula to scrape off the sides of the container and then begin blending again.
  3. Continue steps one and two for 5-15 minutes. I like to do this when I am cleaning my kitchen or something anyhow, so I can periodically check in and scrape rather than just staring at whirling nut powder for a quarter hour.
  4. You can really stop whenever you are happy with the consistency. It starts to get really good when you can feel the container starting to actually heat up. Go a little longer than you think that you have to and it will get more liquidy and creamy than you can imagine!
  5. Now is when you add in mix-ins and blend a little more. If you want chunky nut butter, you would chop some extra nuts separately and stir them in here as well.

Tips:

  • The size of your food processor will dictate the amount of butter you want to make in one batch. If you overfill it, it will take forever to make, and if you under-fill it, you will have to clean up the nut butter mess with a pretty small takeaway, so you can experiment with your own machine and find a happy medium.
  • The second consideration is how hard the nuts you are processing are. Almonds are REALLY hard, and pure raw almond butter will take about 15 minutes of noise to make. If you cut the almonds with a few handfuls of cashews and coconut, it will go much more quickly.
  • I prefer raw nuts, but roasted nuts are also an option, and they will blend up much faster than their raw counterparts. If you choose to roast your nuts first, make sure that they are ENTIRELY cool before you try to blend them.
  • As a science lesson, what you are doing when you blend up nuts is breaking down the molecular barrier and releasing the oils. Since we all know that “oil and water don’t mix” make sure that absolutely no water gets into your mixture. If you are using non-oil based mix-ins (such as honey, maple syrup or dates to sweeten your butter) make sure that you add them at the very end, after the butter is already established. Otherwise you will end up with wet crumbles instead.

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