By Buffy-Ellen Gill from Be Good Organics.
Did you see our “5 with…” interview with Buffy? You can read it here.
Buffy always uses certified organic, local and fairly traded ingredients wherever possible.
This recipe is really so easy, super quick to make, will save your pennies (nut and seed butters can get a tad expensive if you’re a monster consumer like us), and most importantly tastes incredible. I’m going to share with you three different ways to make it, my top tips and tricks for the perfect silky consistency, as well as some of my favourite flavour blends.
My two favourite ways of making nut butter are by either lightly roasting your nuts, or if you have time, soaking and dehydrating (drying) them before blending. Soaking and dehydrating is the best way to eat nuts and seeds, as it removes any difficult to digest nutrients such as phytic acid, as well as initiates the sprouting process. This changes the nut/seed from a dormant entity to a living growing food, and the nutrient profile in terms of vitamins, minerals and particularly protein greatly increases. Think of it like watering a seed to plant a tree – the seed is completely dormant and stagnant until you add water, upon which the transformation of that seed into a fully fledged tree begins.
After soaking your nuts/seeds you can often use them straight away in recipes – particularly my Creamy Cashew Aioli, Cashew Nut Cheese, Coconut Cashew Chia Cream and Homemade Nut Milk do this. These are easy as all you need to do is put the nuts/seed in a bowl, fill it up with double the amount of water, and leave on the bench overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse, then add to your recipe or put in a container in the fridge for up to two days.
If you however want to use your nuts in a recipe that calls for dry nuts (such as nut butter), you need to remove the added moisture from your nuts/seeds before starting. The easiest way to do this is to use a dehydrator, which gently heats the nuts at a low temperature for 24-48 hours (kind of like an oven). I use an Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator (this one here), and it’s amazing. So if you’re planning to soak and dehydrate your nuts on a regular basis, its definitely worth getting and is really energy efficient.
Alternatively you can dry nuts and seed in your oven, simple spread in a single layer on a oven tray (or mesh tray is even better as it allows the air to dry them from underneath). Then put in the oven at 45-50°C with the oven door slightly ajar for ~24 hours until crispy. The dehydrator is of course much more economical in terms of power usage as it’s made for this purpose, but the oven still works fine if you want to try it out a few times before committing to a new appliance. I often spend an hour each month soaking a whole bunch of different nuts and seeds overnight, and then the next day dehydrate the whole lot at the same time and pop into jars. We then have soaked, activated and dehydrated nuts and seeds available to make nut butter, sprinkle over salads or fruit, add to muesli, or mix with dried fruit for a scroggin mix. Once you get into the habit it’s actually quite therapeutic, and definitely rewarding when you arrive home starving and hello there are ready made crunchy dehydrated nuts in the cupboard!
If you don’t want to dehydrate though or just don’t have the time, roasting is the next best option. Like soaking, roasting also helps to reduce some of the protective nutrients on the outside of the nut, which can inhibit digestion and absorption. You just want to make sure you only lightly roast and at a low temperature, to minimise any oxidation of the nuts/seeds valuable omega essential fatty acids. I recommend 12 minutes at 150°C on fan bake as a good guideline.
Now for the Nut Butter – Tips & Tricks
Blend it up: Once you’ve got your dried dehydrated or roasted nuts, from there its just a simple matter of blending in your food processor or blender until the nuts release their natural oils and turn into a silky butter. Depending on the strength of your machine this may take anywhere from 3 minutes (my Vitamix and Thermomix only take this long), or up to 15 minutes in an older food processor.
Give it a rest: If it’s taking longer than 5 minutes, I suggest only running your machine for 5 minutes at a time, then giving it a 20 minute break in between to cool down, otherwise it may overheat (and burn out!).
Add a dash of oil: The other trick is to add a little bit of oil (a mild tasting oil like chia seed oil or sunflower oil works best), to help bring out the natural oils in the nuts. If you’ve got a super zippy processor/blender you won’t need this (ie I don’t for mine).
Try roasting: The other trick to make nut/seed butters work in an older machine is to opt for the roasted version, and pour the nuts in while they’re still warm from the oven – this will also help release the natural oils easier.
Minimum 2 cups: Don’t use less than 2 cups of nuts and seeds, as any less and you want get the critical mass and weight to release the oils. In fact, if you’re working with an older machine, I would optimally use 3 or even 4 cups of nuts to help them fall back down on the blades.
No liquids other than oil!: Whatever you do don’t add anything water based like a liquid sweetener, as it will cause your nuts to turn into a sticky paste instead of a creamy butter!
Onto blends, my all-rounder favourite is this “ABCs” butter – a blend of equal amounts of almonds, brazil nuts, cashews and sunflower seeds. I’m not so fussed on seed butters on their own (but if you’re going to make them for allergy reasons, I highly recommend going for the roasted option as the flavour is that much better). However they are a lot more affordable than nuts and do have amazing nutrient profiles, so I like to sneak a few seeds into my favourite nut blends, to get both the nutrient and cost-saving benefits whilst still retaining the core nut butter flavours. Other blends I love include:
- Pecan & Cashew (1/2 and 1/2)
- Almond & Sunflower (2/3 and 1/3)
- 100% Almond (dehydrated and roasted are both lovely)
- Roasted Peanut (roast rather than dehydrate for optimal flavour)
- Cashew & Coconut (1c cashews + 2c desiccated coconut)
How to Use
Now that you’ve made your nut/seed butter, oh how to use?! Here are some of my favourite ideas:
- Spread on toast with sliced banana and cinnamon
- Drizzle over fruit salad (like in the pictures here – I love combining this with coconut yoghurt too – sounds odd but tastes amazing!)
- Spoon into medjool dates or dried apricots then rol in desiccated coconut and pop in the freezer for a quick sweet treat
- Use to make an easy satay sauce
- Add to a smoothie for extra protein, vitamin E, healthy omega fats and to balance your blood sugar levels
- Blend 2-3 tablespoons with 1 cup water for a quick and easy nut milk
- Add to homemade cookies instead of butter and eggs (my favourite recipe coming soon!)
So, choose your method – dehydrator-dried, oven-dried or roasted; pick your blend (I highly recommend trying my “ABCs” butter first); then all that’s left to do is decide how you’re going to devour it! I really hope you’ll try this one and find out how easy and satisfying it is to make your own Homemade Nut Butter. Oh and before I forget, we now stock all of my favourite organic nuts and seed in bulk 3kg bags, which is definitely the most affordable way to buy them – to find them in the store just click on the individual links in the recipe below, or go herefor the full range.
I’d love to see your jars of nutty seedy goodness on Instagram, so tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics with your lovely creations.
Enjoy your nut butter creating, and just remember to make/save enough for next week!
- Dehydrator-Dried: Soak your nuts and seeds overnight in filtered water. In the morning rinse and drain well in a colander to get as much water out as you can. Spread in a single layer on dehydrator sheets, then put in the dehydrator for 24-36 hours. You can read my top tips for using your dehydrator here. Smaller nuts and seeds may take only 24 hours, while larger nuts like brazils can take up to 36 hours. They’ll also dry faster in warmer climates, slower in colder ones. Once dry and crunchy, remove and let cool, then pour into sealed glass jars and store in the cupboard in a cool place until you’re ready to use.
- Oven-Dried: Soak, rinse and drain as above, but pour your nut and seed blend onto an oven tray in a single layer, using a mesh tray if possible to allow the warm air to dry the nuts from underneath as well. Place in the oven for 24-36 hours at 45/50°C on fan bake with the oven door slightly ajar (put a wooden spoon in there if you need to keep it open). Then continue as above to store if not using straight away.
- Oven-Roasted: Pour your nuts and seeds on an oven tray in a single layer, and roast for 12 minutes at 150°C on fan bake, shaking them once during roasting to make sure they brown up nice and evenly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before blending.
- Nut Butter: Take your nut/seed blend (dehydrater-dried, oven-dried, or oven-roasted) and place in a good quality food processor or blender (if you have a blender with a tamper, if not don’t try blender). Remember if you’ve got an older or less powerful machine, use your nuts and seeds when they’re still slightly warm.
- Blend for 3-15 minutes, stopping at 5 minute intervals if your machine needs it to cool down. At the end add salt for flavour and optional oil to help the natural nut/seed oils release if needed.
- The nut butter will go through four distinct stages as seen in the photos above – whole, crumbly chunks, a grainy paste, then finally a smooth butter. Don’t stop at stage 3, keep going until you get to stage 4! Scrape down the sides as needed to get all the butter blended together.
- Once it’s creamy, pour into a glass jar and keep sealed in the fridge for up to four weeks. Ours only lasts a week though (Tony loves that nut butter on toast!), so I always make a double batch. I’ll often make one batch dehydrated and one batch roasted, so we get two jars with only one blender/processor wash up required.
Source: Buffy Ellen, Be Good Organics