I like to keep a bag of peanuts in my car. I am one of those people who can go from being not at all hungry, to slightly dizzy with the need to eat. On days when I find myself running endless errands, knowing that I have something filling and restorative within reach stops me from zipping through drive-throughs or dashing into Wawa for a bag of chips.
Last week, as I gathered supplies and ingredients for our holiday trek to Virginia, I picked up a new bag at Trader Joe’s last week (a three+ hour drive in holiday traffic demands a fresh supply of car snacks). It was during the height of the pre-Thanksgiving frenzy and in my hurry to get in and out of a packed store as quickly as possible, I grabbed a package of roasted and unsalted peanuts. As it turns out, it was a grim mistake, because as good and satisfying as a lightly salted peanut can be, an unsalted one is bland and decidedly unpleasant.
Not wanting to waste the majority of a one-pound bag of roasted peanuts, I brought them up from the car when we unloaded, with the intention of making peanut butter (conveniently, I had just finished a jar). Then, the thing that happens so often in life occurred. The peanuts sat on top of the washing machine, exactly where Scott put them last week during our post-trip unpacking, until earlier today.
Finally, entirely tired of looking at them, I made peanut butter this morning. And like so many other long-avoided tasks, it took a fraction of the time I anticipated and was better than I remembered homemade peanut butter to be.
A pound of nuts yields approximately two cups of butter, so once I had a consistency I was happy with, I pulled out about a cup (slightly less than, it turns out) of the butter to keep it plain, and then added cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves to the balance. As much as I love plain peanut butter, it’s also fun to have some that tastes fleetingly of pumpkin pie.
I know that some of you have had issues with some of my nut butter recipes in the past. The secret to getting a good consistency is oil. I know that most of us are loath to add more oil to nuts (because they contain so much of it naturally), but truly, these butters need a little extra lubrication. And the amount varies depending on your nuts.
This batch took just two tablespoons of peanut oil to develop the right texture. However, I’ve had some similarly scaled batches of almond and sunflower butters that needed as much as 1/3 cup. Because the age and moisture content of nuts varies, there’s no one-size-fits-all amount of oil I can instruct you to add. You have to use your eyes, nose, and best judgment. And if you feel like your food processor motor is in danger, please stop and give it the chance to cool down.