NZ Forest Native Birds

Home-Made Peanut Butter

Fed up with the mushy gunge that passes for peanut butter these days? When emulsified peanut butter first came onto the market I thought it was pretty ghastly, but it seems to be even worse now. For a start, it tastes as though it would be lucky to contain 50% peanuts. (Oh, I do exaggerate don’t I?) I hate to think what the rest of the ingredients might be. In the end I started paying extra for peanut butter that was made on the premises of the shop where I bought it.

Unfortunately, it was very expensive (the last lot I bought cost me $4.60, or a little less than US$2.30, for 600g, which makes it about NZ$7.66 a kg) and the shop has now closed. For years I’ve been promising myself to try making my own, and this closure galvanised me into action. I bought a 500g pack of Budget brand blanched peanuts for $2.20 (though the previous time I bought them they were $1.89) and set about turning them into peanut butter.

First I roasted them, in three one-cup lots, as for Honey Roasted Peanuts (without the honey, of course). I then processed them in my food processor, with a little salt, until they looked the right consistency, although the end result was definitely darker in colour than the bought product. My husband said it tasted better than the stuff I bought for $4.60, although he also remarked on its dry consistency.

I understand Spanish peanuts are the best for peanut butter because of their high oil content. However, other types are perfectly suitable as long as you add extra peanut oil. Other vegetable oils aren’t suitable because they don’t taste right. On my next shopping day I bought a 500ml bottle of peanut oil for $3.37. Not cheap, but I calculated that if I added 1 tablespoon per cup of peanuts I could make twelve 500g packs of peanut butter with 500ml of oil, bringing the cost of my 500g of peanut butter (now weighing a little more) to $2.48, still cheaper than around $3.83.

So, if you are still reading, here’s my recipe:

500g (1 lb.) raw, shelled and skinned (blanched) peanuts
3 TB peanut oil (add more if you need to; I often do)
1 tsp salt (optional)
Using a 1-litre heat-proof glass jug, roast peanuts in 1-cup lots in microwave on 650 watts for 6 minutes, stirring or shaking at least twice. Or try roasting them in one lot, though I’m not sure how long this will take as I no longer have a microwave; it celebrated its 21st birthday several years ago by breaking down. The peanuts can also be roasted in an ordinary oven. Try 10 minutes at about 200°C. If they aren't quite brown, switch off the oven and leave for another five minutes. How long it takes depends on what type of oven you have. Leave to cool, though they don’t have to be cold; just cool enough not to damage your food processor.

Put nuts, oil and salt in food processor and process on high until the mixture is the consistency you want. If you like your peanut butter extra crunchy, try processing 1 cup of nuts on its own for a shorter time and stir it into the rest of the mixture by hand.

If you find your peanut butter is still too dry, add more oil. If you think it's too soft, add less oil next time.

For smooth peanut butter (which I don’t really like) you might have to roast the peanuts for a shorter time. But, on the other hand, the blade in your food processor might be sharper than mine. J

Important: Good peanut butter needs to be stirred before every use. To encourage everyone in the family to do this, put it in a wide and relatively shallow container rather than a tall narrow one.

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