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A Treat From Outer Space

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I hate to admit it, but for a very long time I thought that peanut butter was a special substance discovered by NASA and extracted from deep within the outer space. Ashamed as I am about it, I’ve spent my life enjoying the stuff smeared between layers of jam and bread, without ever giving a second thought to how it was actually produced. I mean, knowing that it contains 99% peanuts and 1% salt is enough, right? Goes to show you what you miss as a result of a complete lack of curiosity (or feeble brain activity, or both).

Thank heavens for blogs! And especially for My New Roots, the internet home of the radiant Sarah Britton, self-made vegetarian chef and lovely food blogger. Thanks to her, I recently found out (and tested) exactly how nut butter was made.

Now, when you’re told how to reconstruct the equivalent of the culinary Big Bang in your kitchen, you’re probably going to try it out, right? Right. So I bought some hazel and pecan nuts. I toasted them at 130°C in the oven for 20 minutes, until the hazelnuts became brown. I then let the nuts cool, rubbed the skins off the hazelnuts, and tossed them and the pecans into a blender. And then turned it on.

What followed was one of those magical moments that can only happen in the kitchen (or an alchemist’s laboratory), where you watch substances as they change their nature before your very eyes. As the blades continued spinning dizzyingly, I stared wide-eyed as the nuts first turned into crumbs, then started clumping, and finally – as the blades reached their oils and those exploded in all directions – into a luscious, creamy butter.

It would have been perfect just like that, but out of sheer decadence, I added a teaspoon of sugar to one batch and a teaspoon of sugar and cocoa to another batch. (I’m still deciding which is better, all the while wondering what other spices I could use – cinnamon, cardamom, cloves?)

You really don’t need a recipe to make your own nut butter, but if you pop over to My New Roots, you’ll find a heap of useful information on just exactly how and why homemade nut butter is the best kind there is. And of course, if you aren’t already, you should totally make it yourself! Three, two, one, take off!


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