From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering
With peanut allergies on the rise, there is now a variety of other nut butters available, but some are quite expensive. I was told to stop eating peanut butter (due to inflammation) at the same time a girlfriend said she made homemade nut butter.
Far too many of the nut butters available are made from hydrogenated oils, which means they include transfats or they use soy oil. When you make your own, you can control the amount of sugar, choose a quality oil and make what your family will like and eat. Please don't use canola oil, agave nectar or fake sugars unless you really have no choice. Far too many recipes claim to be healthy yet quote the same quantity of agave nectar as honey, maple syrup or even corn syrup. They've been told that agave nectar has a lower glycemic index (yes it does) and to use it instead. What they don't say is that agave is 50% sweeter than honey etc., so you should use less, despite what the recipe says.
This recipe will be smoother and creamier, depending on whether you use an immersion blender, large blender, food processor or Vitamix. It's easier to start with a nut flour. Make a small quantity to start with and see what oils and sweeteners you like. I enjoy using coconut oil, but it does make nut butter firm at room temp and harder from the fridge. Olive oil (regular, not extra virgin) also firms up in fridge. You can also use the nut oil that matches the nut you use. La Tourangelle Roasted Almond Oil is a good choice. Many specialty stores sell food grade nut oils for salads, etc. Almond extract with almonds intensifies the flavor of almond butter – it tastes like almond paste. I also have a gluten-free hazelnut extract. I like maple syrup for sweetness and flavor and we always have at least a quart of maple syrup in the fridge. Only make a small quantity at a time as it can smell fermented if not refrigerated. If you want it runnier, add some water rather than extra oil or sugar. So far, the oil has not separated out like “natural” jars of nut butter you can find in the market.
- 1 cup (4 oz., 112 g) almond flour or almond meal. Almond meal has the skin on, so it’s more fiber but a darker colored butter. I buy Trader Joe's almond meal and Bob's Red Mill sells almond flour and hazelnut meal. You can buy roasted unsalted sealed bags of cashew, sunflower seeds, etc. Roasting does add to the flavor.
- 2-3 Tbsp. (30-45 ml) maple syrup or honey, depending on your family’s sweet factor. Also when you spread almond butter on bagel etc., it doesn't taste as sweet.
- 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) nut oil, coconut oil or olive oil. I haven't tried avocado oil and won't use canola or soy oil.
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) gluten-free almond extract (optional, but gives it more flavor)
- I just put everything in my food processor and let it work, scraping down sides, until it's the consistency I like. Will your kids like it? It depends how passionate they are about any certain brand of nut butter. I certainly like it and like knowing it's fresher and healthier than many commercial brands. I haven't tried baking with it yet.