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Experiment Making Homemade Peanut Butter

Joan Young By Joan Young on
Badge: Editor | Level: 34 | Food & Drink Expertise:
nut butter cutter

This story begins with one of those strange episodes of a complete lack of observation that we occasionally fall into. After using a hand-operated food grinder that had been my mother’s, for years, I noticed that the finest cutting wheel had words stamped on it: “nut butter cutter.” It took me 62 years to read that label? OK, I’ve only been reading for 60 of them...

Well! The planets must have been aligned, because I also had on hand a bag of peanuts that really needed to be used, as they were getting a little stale.

Let me also say that I’m a peanut butter hound. If it weren’t spiritually unsound, I’d say, “A day without peanut butter is a day without joy.” Yes, I love it that much. It’s my main source of protein. I don’t like the name brands, because they add too much sugar. I have found one store label that is affordable, is extra-crunchy, and isn’t as sweet as many brands. This love for peanut butter with lower sugar has led me down many a thought-trail towards making my own. And now, I discover that I’ve had the equipment all my life. Literally!

So, I set up the grinder, and ran the peanuts through it. I’ve labeled this as an experiment, because I certainly didn’t approach this project with my usual, logical care. I simply dove in, and made adjustments as I went along. What I discovered right away is that grinding up peanuts takes an extra muscle. I’m no weakling, but this project called for an extra measure of elbow grease. That’s fine. I was just surprised.

After feeding a couple of handfuls through the grinder I had a little dry pile of shavings in the dish. Frankly, it looked a lot like a dish full of maggots. OK, sorry... bad image... but it did! I tasted it, it tasted just like peanut butter, but it certainly wasn’t spreadable.

Off I went to the computer, to the internet, where I discovered that I was going to have to add extra oil to make the texture correct. Of course, the suggestion was for peanut oil. Not having any of that, I went with Smart Balance oil (a blend of canola, olive and soy oils), which I had on hand. I didn’t do any measuring, I just poured a little in and started mixing. I kept adding oil until the whole pile was a good consistency to be able to spread on bread.

From the internet, I also learned that I “should have” taken all the husks off the peanuts before grinding. After the fact, I don’t know why you would need to except, perhaps, for color consistency. I can’t tell that it affects the taste.

Since I like my peanut butter chunky, I changed cutting wheels and ground up a few more peanuts with a coarser grind, and mixed them in.

How do I like the product? It’s a little dry, with a bit more texture than processed peanut butter, but that doesn’t bother me. I suppose if I added more oil, it wouldn’t be as dry.

Would I do this again? Maybe. I want to see how stable this butter is. I also read that you should keep homemade peanut butter in the refrigerator, and I don’t want to do that. I prefer it at room temperature. After one day it certainly hasn’t started to separate from the oil. Perhaps in small batches it wouldn’t need to be refrigerated.

According to Nutrition Data, the values for the two oils are pretty equal, except that the Smart Balance Oil has Omega 3, while straight peanut oil only has Omega 6. For better health, it’s good to have a higher ratio of 3 to 6. So, as long as the taste doesn’t seem affected, I think I’ll stick with adding the Smart Balance Oil.

To compare the calories, I’ll need to start out with some measurements next time. But with no sugar it seems as if it would have to end up lower in calories.

This was a lot of fun, and I’m glad that I finally got around to giving it a whirl... or a grind.