The tiniest rumblings of a peanut butter shortage — even a sporadic one — would send waves of panic through our house.
We are peanut butter people: crunchy, creamy, natural; by the spoonful, on toast, in sauces, with apples, over ice cream, the star of desserts or teamed up with bananas in oatmeal. It's at home in both sweet and savory dishes, providing a depth and saltiness that makes nearly everything better.
It's also incredibly easy — and inexpensive — to make.
The ingredient list is short: unsalted dry-roasted peanuts. The equipment list is just as short: a food processor or high-powered blender. Anything else is entirely optional.
But is it worth the time and effort? Definitely. The benefits of making your own peanut butter are many:
You're in control. Putting the ingredients in your own hands allows you to use your sweetener of choice — or leave it out altogether. Honey works well, but maple syrup, sugar or sugar substitute work, too. Control the saltiness level by adding or subtracting to taste.
It's a blank canvas. Not only can you keep ingredients out, you can also add them. Want crunchy peanut butter? Grind an extra handful of peanuts and stir them in. Sprinkle in cinnamon. Add vanilla. Treat yourself and make chocolate peanut butter (unsweetened cocoa powder or dark chocolate chips both work; adjust the sweetener amounts accordingly).
It's versatile. The texture will be very different from a jar of store-bought peanut butter — it's a lot runnier. If you'll use it in sauces or to drizzle over anything, go ahead and keep on the counter. If you prefer a more solid peanut butter (or you don't go through it very fast), keep it in the refrigerator. A lidded jar is an ideal storage vessel.
It's economical. I bought a 16-ounce jar of dry-roasted peanuts on sale for $2.99, which yielded nearly 2 cups of peanut butter. Make a double batch right away. It's tempting and delicious by the spoonful — and might not last long.
Go nuts: I used unsalted dry-roasted peanuts to better control the sodium. If your tastes run salty, go ahead and use regular dry-roasted peanuts. If you want to go all out, roast the peanuts, too. Raw, in-the-shell peanuts are readily available and have the added bonus of making your house smell great. Once you've mastered peanut butter, go ahead and experiment with cashews and almonds.
It won't take long before you're a peanut butter connoisseur. And what to do with your newfound talent? The holidays are just around the corner.
Homemade Peanut Butter
Makes 1 cup.
Note: Making peanut butter is simple, and the result is delicious. Use the sweetener of choice: honey, sugar, maple syrup — or none at all. From Nicole Hvidsten.
• 2 c. unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
• 1 tbsp. honey, or more to taste, optional (see Note)
• 3⁄4 tsp. kosher or sea salt, or more to taste, optional
Place peanuts in the bowl of a food processor. Run continuously for 3 to 5 minutes. (The peanuts will go from crumbs to ball form and then to creamy peanut butter. If it seems gritty, keep processing.) Scrape down the sides of bowl. Add honey and salt, if using. Process until just combined, about 20 seconds. Taste, and add additional sweetener or salt to taste.
Store in a covered container. Keep it at room temperature if you go through it quickly, or in the refrigerator if you like firmer peanut butter or aren't a frequent peanut butter eater.