Good peanut butter should have only peanuts & maybe some salt. Although there are a few niche brands that fit the bill, you have to hunt them down. Years ago, I saw Alton Brown make peanut butter and realised how easy it was to make with a good food processor. The same process can be followed for cashews and almonds or a mix of whatever nuts you have on hand.
The key to making peanut butter is roasting the peanuts. Don’t bother making it with ready roasted peanuts; it’s better to buy a good jar of the stuff instead. My mother would roast the nuts and then use a large flat plate to shake off the thin skins. However, Alton Brown’s method works well and is probably less messy. Roast a big batch of peanuts and store the extras for adding to oriental salads, stir-fries or munch on as a snack.
Type of peanuts
Something crucial that I learnt from my mother about peanuts – the variety you use makes a big difference to the end result. For applications where you don’t want the nuts to turn to an oily mush, the lighter and larger pink peanuts are more suited. However, when you want the oily mush, aka peanut butter, the smaller red skinned variety is the one to look for. If you can find only the pink ones, use them, but you might have to add more oil to get a good consistency.
Homemade Peanut Butter
The nuts can be roasted in advance and stored. When you make the butter, the food processor needs to be working for about 10-12 minutes, so best to make it when you are in the kitchen doing other things, so that you can keep an eye on it.
To Roast Peanuts:
Preheat the oven to 175C (160C fan).
Spread out the peanuts on a large baking tray, ensuring they are in one single layer. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring them halfway through cooking to ensure they roast evenly.
They are done when you can skin peels of easily when rubbed. Once done, take out and let them cool a little.
Remove the skin by rubbing the peanuts together in your hands held over a salad spinner, allowing the peanuts and skins to fall into the bowl. Once the skin has been loosened from the peanuts, spin the salad spinner until the skin has been separated from the peanuts.
To make the peanut butter:
Place the peanuts, into the bowl of a food processor. Process on low-medium speed for about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Place the lid back on and continue to process for another 8-10 minutes, with a few breaks so that the machine doesn’t get overworked. Once the peanuts start looking like a shiny paste, albeit a bit rough, add 1 tablespoon of oil and the salt. Process and then add the honey if using. The honey will make the butter seize a little, so add the second tablespoon of oil if needed.
Place the peanut butter in an airtight container and store in at cool room temperature, or in the refrigerator (it will harden) for up to 2 months.