While peanuts in general deserve about a hundred individual posts, I thought it best to start with my favorite peanut application, peanut butter. Peanut butter is one of my all time favorite snacks! Not only is it cheap, but it’s sooo easy to make at home, not to mention the taste!! Besides, peanut butter can be used in a whole lot of different ways from sandwiches, cookies, and cakes to soups and sauces. Peanut butter is one of the things you should always have hanging around the kitchen…and if you’re going to have it, might as well make it yourself!
First, let’s clear this up: Peanuts aren’t really nuts at all Yup, peanuts are legumes! Which means that they are basically a bean. Don’t believe me. They grow on the ground, and, well take a look at their natural container. That shell is really a pod, kind of like a bean. Mind blown, right? They have a really high fat content, which gives them a similar texture as a tree nut such as a pecan or walnut, and can be used the same way as you would use any nut…roast it, salt it, eat it… but they are in fact a bean. With this recipe, in fact, you could even substitute tree nuts for peanuts if you had an allergy, or a diet that restricted legumes.
Peanut butter made at home is great for a lot of reasons. Sure you could buy it, but making your own is fun and more importantly puts you in control of the ingredients and what you’re eating. A lot of popular brands of peanut butter use artificial flavorings, tons of sugar, and hydrogenated fats (aka trans fats) to maintain shelf life and keep their Franken-butters stable. Home made peanut butter, on the other hand, is all natural, and definitely tastes more wholesome. Go ahead and taste both home made and store bought back to back. You would never notice how artificial the store bought stuff tastes without the real thing right next to it. I’ve always found the comparison amazing, it’s like a Matrix moment, when you taste the difference! Making peanut butter at home is a great activity to do with kids or loved ones. As there aren’t a whole lot of steps involved, this could be a bonding activity that produces quick results. Also, this is a great recipe to get kids interested in cooking. I remember when I was a kid, I saw peanut butter being made on the Mr. Rodgers Show (OMG, I just realized that I’m old…google the show lol) and I thought it looked like a lot of fun, I didn’t even realize I could make peanut butter…I thought it was grocery store magic! Any way, the point is that a lot of people, myself include, take for granted a lot things that can be done with TLC right at home…tender love and care, not the R&B band…alright, enough early 90’s references. Time to make some peanut butter!
Home made Peanut Butter:
2 cups raw, shelled peanuts
1 tablespoon honey
1 stick melted butter or oil
1/3 cup vegetable oil, or enough to smooth out peanut butter
1 tsp salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. You can shell your peanuts while the oven is preheating, but no one will blame you for buying shelled peanuts. Once the oven is hot, place peanuts on a cookie sheet or sheet tray and roast in the oven. Check after about 10 minutes. You can get a deeper flavor by roasting for longer and getting a deep brown color, but you can also stop once you see a light gold color. Totally up to your preference. Experiment with roasting times and see what you like best, just don’t cook them to the point of being dark brown or black because the flavor will taste burned. Once the peanuts are cooled. transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse until they form a loose crumble, it should look a little like soil. Reserve a 1/4 cup or so to add back in later if you like crunchy peanut butter. Add the honey and salt and pulse until it is incorporated fully. Now pulse in the butter. The reason why this recipe uses butter AND oil is because the butter adds flavor while the oil helps keep the peanut butter smooth. Once the butter is fully incorporated, drizzle in the oil a little at a time. You will start to see the peanut butter smooth out. When you see it looking like peanut butter…it’s peanut butter! You may not use all the oil, or you may use a little more. It all depends on the type of peanuts you use (some naturally contain more oil than others, therefore less oil is needed to smooth). Once the peanut butter is at your desired consistency, remove as much of it as you can from the blender or food processor…I know, it will be sticky. Use a spatula to fold back in the reserved crumbled peanuts, or enjoy as it. I promise, this will be the best peanut butter you have ever tasted, and is something you just can’t get in a store.
This recipe makes about a pint. You can double or triple the recipe as needed, but I would recommend making it in single batches once the peanuts are roasted to keep the blender or food processor from working too hard. You can keep this in the refrigerator for well over a month, but it will solidify slightly due to the butter, and will need to come to room temperature before it can be used as a spread. I keep mine out at room temperature. Though it slightly decreases the shelf life, a pint of peanut butter never lasts long enough in my house any way!