The light, musical crackle of freshly toasted bread, that melt-in-your-mouth creamy texture, the ultimate combination of salty and sweet; your love affair with nut butter probably began with an innocent slice of peanut butter on toast. Here’s how to turn that love affair into a mature, long-lasting relationship with one of nature’s most dynamic little ingredients – nuts.
You’re probably most familiar with peanut butter or hazelnut butter, but nut butters are made from just about all your favorite shelled snacks – from almonds to coconuts. These spreads have as many uses as the varieties they come in and boast abundant nutrients that can reduce risk of cardiovascular and other chronic disease.
The difference between nut butter and nut milk really boils down to the extraction
process. The milk is made without the nut pulp that comes from blending the nuts. In a factory, the nut will be pressed for every drop of delicious, nutty milk and the pulp is discarded. You’ll need around half a kilo of almonds to make two litres of the milk. This is very telling; no wonder almond milk is expensive!
GO NUTS WITH CAUTION
The specific nutrients in nut butters vary depending on the type of nut used. It’s true that nut butters contain a significant amount of fat per serving, but these are the good kind of fats that promote a healthy heart and good cholesterol levels. These fats are champions that work hard to keep our body in good shape; we need them. It’s never too early to start laying the foundation for healthy cholesterol levels and nut butters are an incredible aid. Just one teaspoon a day of the right nut butter – like pistachio or almond butter, for example – promotes heart health by reducing bad cholesterol (LDL).
Nut allergies, especially peanuts, are increasingly common. Fortunately, there are a variety of delicious nut and seed butter alternatives that will keep your allergies at bay. If you’re allergic to peanuts, chances are you won’t tolerate a variety of other nuts, too. It’s best to check in with your doctor to make sure you’re good to go with a nut butter alternative. While nuts and nut butter are considered nutritional powerhouses they’re also highdensity calorie foods. This means it’s best to balance your diet if you regularly enjoy
your nut butters. Many brands contain only the ground-up nuts, but some contain added salt and sugar, not to mention chemical stabilisers and preservatives. That’s why making your own nut butter is not only fulfilling, but gives you the opportunity to manage what goes into the mix. As with anything, the key is moderation. A standard serving of nut butter is around two tablespoons. Try stick to this and no more per day.
MAKE YOUR OWN
The best nut butters are those that contain mostly the plain nut and not much else. Making nut butter is a great way to level up your culinary skills without too much hard graft – though we have to stress that a little patience is required to make your
nut butter a success. The secret to making nutritious nut butter is in the soak. Soaking is a very important step because most nuts, seeds and grains are covered in natural chemicals that protect the plants while they grow. Some of these chemicals are indigestible in the body, so soaking the little things in water before you use them makes them easier to digest and improves their flavour. If you don’t have time for soaking, roast the nuts instead. This also helps break down the natural chemicals that protect the nuts. Roast for 30 minutes at 160 Celsius. Cool before you blend.
DID YOU KNOW?
Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof
of one’s mouth.
LET’S REDEFINE A GENERATION’S DEFINITION OF YUMMY
Different nuts have different soaking needs (anything from two to twelve hours) so be sure to check how much time you’ll need. Once they’re soaked, discard the water and begin dehydrating your nuts; this is simple enough to do in an oven. Spread the nuts into an even layer on a baking tray and place in the oven, heated to around 65 degrees Celsius. Leave the nuts to dry out for around twelve to 24 hours, turning them every few hours until they’re completely crisp and dry.
When you’re done dehydrating, it’s time to blend them. It may take up to 15-20 minutes until the nut mixture is totally creamy – this depends on the strength and size of your blender and how many nuts you are processing. Feel free to add some olive oil to your mixture if you’re not quite getting the creamy texture you’re after. The minute you have the texture you’re after, pour the mixture into a sealable glass container and enjoy to your heart’s desire.
Nut butters are not only a brilliant substitute for real butter and margarine; they also whip up into delicious taste sensations and are full of beneficial nutrients.
- Add a little nut butter to your morning smoothie for an energy
boost. Try Macadamia nut butter, pineapple, and a little shaved
coconut for a delicious summer breakfast.
- Drizzle some warmed walnut butter over grilled apples and
pears for a more-ish dessert or replace the mayonnaise in your
standard sandwich with a little spread of the stuff.
- Another must-try summer dessert; half a banana sliced
lengthwise with a teaspoon of almond butter on each side and
two teaspoons of shredded coconut. Freeze for around an hour
- Use hazelnut butter to thicken a lamb stew or try mixing peanut
butter, fresh grated ginger, and garlic to create the perfect sauce
for chicken or fish.
- Mix in some raw cacao, coconut oil and almond milk to your
hazelnut butter for a mouth-watering chocolate spread for for
the whole family.
Culinary nut butter adventures await you – all you need is a little time
and lots of imagination.
SEED & NUT SOAKING TIME CHEAT SHEET
Almond – 8-12 hours
Brazil – none
Cashew – 2 hours
Flax Seed – 8 hours
Hazelnut – 8 hours
Macadamia – 8 hours
Peanut – 8 hours
Pine Nut – 8 hours
Pistachio – none
Sesame seeds – 8 hours
Sunflower seeds – 2 hours
Walnut – 4 hours