At 6:30 this morning my husband was taking a shower. Bleary after a bout of insomnia last night, I staggered into the kitchen to pack him a lunch before driving him to work. The empty peanut butter jar from yesterday was sitting on the counter waiting to get washed of its last oily dregs, reminding me to fumble through the depths of the pantry for another jar.
But it wasn’t there. Making a peanut butter-filled cake, peanut butter-filled cookies, and a whole lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches had cleared out the small hoard of jars in the cupboard. This was a not a fact I was quite prepared to face at 6:30am, and when my towel-clad husband emerged from his shower he was greeted with a grumpy wife and the information that he would have to fend for himself at lunchtime.
The morning commute was foggy, but the drive, the sun, and two cups of coffee cleared the haze both meteorological and metaphorical. We did not have any peanut butter, but we definitely had five pounds of organic raw peanuts. Always up for a culinary adventure (or as my husband would say, trashing the kitchen), I decided to put my food processor to use.
Two cups of raw peanuts in a single layer on a pan get toasted at 350F for about 10 minutes. “Never leave nuts in the oven unattended as they burn very quickly,” says the Voice of Experience.
Due to a combination of paranoia (see above quotation) and poor timing (I was making breakfast at the same time) my peanuts are very lightly toasted. They should be just golden brown as they will continue to cook on the pan once removed from the oven.
Now the fun part! On the excellent advice of Alton Brown I let the peanuts cool, then rubbed them between my hands to loosen the skin. After two handfuls I got really smart and did this over the tray. It was early.
Once I had gotten to most of the nuts, I scooped them into my salad spinner and used the awesome powers of centrifugal force to spin the skins away. I still had to pick through them a bit to find renegades, but it was much faster than hand-sifting all of them.
If I had a large food processor this might have been faster, but I have this 3-cup version — great for what I normally need, but not quite enough oomph for 2 cups of peanuts. It may also be the loudest food processor known to man so whirring anything longer than 30 seconds is borderline painful. If you have a larger capacity processor, go to town. If not, I recommend making nut butters in small batches.
In the food processor bowl I combined 1 cup of toasted, skinned peanuts, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon honey, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (we were out of peanut oil). After pulsing a few times to break up the peanuts, I let it process for about 2 ear-splitting minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl every 30-45 seconds. I reserved about 1/4 cup of peanuts and repeated the process with the rest. The last 1/4 cup I chopped and stirred in for crunch.
Ta da! Peanut butter!
After stirring it all up I wished I had reserved more of the peanuts for crunch as it was a bit spare, but it sure tastes like peanut butter.
The organic peanut butter I usually buy runs about $5 per 16 ounce jar (I stocked up when it was on sale for $4). Two cups of peanuts is about 13 ounces, so I ended up with slightly less than a full jar when I was done. The peanuts were just under $2/pound for a grand total of about $1.60 worth in this recipe. Add about 5 cents of honey, a few pennies of salt and oil, we’ll round it up to $1.75 — and I’d say that’s not a bad deal.
Homemade Peanut Butter
Yields about 1.5 cups of peanut butter
Note: The darker you roast your peanuts, the more intense the flavor. We prefer a bit lighter roast, but you may not. Using a darker pan will make the peanuts toast faster, so times are approximate. As mentioned above, I had to process mine in batches because I have a small-capacity food processor. If you have a 12-cup bowl it will probably work in one go.
2 cups (about 13 ounces) raw peanuts
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons peanut or neutral-flavored oil
1.) Preheat oven to 350F. Spread peanuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Peanuts are done when they are just golden brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and let cool.
2.) When peanuts are cool enough to handle, rub them between your hands to loosen the skins. Place peanuts in a salad spinner to separate skins from peanuts.
3.) If crunchy peanut butter is desired, reserve 1/4-1/2 cup of the peanuts. In the bowl of a food processor, combine peanuts, honey, and salt. If the capacity of your food processor is small, work in 2 or 3 batches. Pulse a few times to break up the peanuts, then drizzle in some oil. Process until smooth. If making crunchy peanut butter, chop reserved peanuts and stir in.
4.) Store refrigerated in an air-tight jar (an old peanut jar works really well) for up to a month.
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