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Omaha Magazine

How to: Make Your Own Nut Butters

Nov 01, 2021 11:01AM ● By Patrick McGee
nut, honey, and nut butter on concrete slab

Photo via IStock    

Do-it-yourselfers looking to make edible holiday gifts this season should consider recipes for nut butter. It’s delicious, savory and sometimes sweet, and serves as a great alternative to traditional holiday treats, such as fudge or frosted sugar cookies, that are often gifted.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Linda Young, who’s also a registered dietician and medical nutrition therapist, said nuts are nutritious (in varying degrees) and, therefore, nut butters can be, too. 

“They’re an excellent source of healthy fats,” she said, adding they have a lot of nutrient density and calories. Nevertheless, “you need to check the label to know what else is in [store-bought nut butters]. Nut butters with added sugars, fats, and salt naturally aren’t as healthy as the plain nuts they’re made from.” A look at the nutrition facts on any commercial peanut butter jar will confirm this.

Those who make homemade batches of nut butter can control precisely what’s in them, dial back the empty calories and additives, and increase their health benefits. One can purchase nuts in bulk at grocery stores or, if preferred, obtain organic nuts from health food stores. Because most nuts are not grown locally, they must be dried and shipped, so ordering direct online is another option.

Internet sites provide several recipes for almond, cashew, and pecan butters. The site lifemadesweeter.com provides basic recipes with simple, universal directions: oven-roast the nuts, chop and cream them in a blender or food processor, and add salt to taste. Roasting and processing the nuts releases the oils, softens them, and allows them to be blended to the preferred texture. Total prep time is about 30 minutes. Cooks can add any number of tasty ingredients to jazz them up, including maple syrup, chia seeds, flax seeds, turmeric, cayenne pepper, coconut, coconut oil, freeze-dried strawberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or pumpkin pie spice. Other options include honey, sea salt, cocoa beans, vanilla beans, and raisins.

Ambitiouskitchen.com shares 10 savory and sweet nut butter recipes with enough variety to appeal to more adventurous palates. Recipes include salted vanilla honey peanut butter, salted dark chocolate pecan butter, vanilla cinnamon raisin almond butter, salted dark chocolate almond butter, vanilla bean almond and honey almond butter, chai-spiced almond hazelnut butter, vanilla bean coconut butter, cocoa nib almond cashew butter, sea salt and vanilla cashew butter, and salted maple pecan butter.

The USDA says peanut butters have a shelf life of two to three months, though added ingredients may cause them to expire a bit sooner. As such, most nut butters can be packed into gift baskets for relatives and friends to enjoy for most, if not all, winter.

While everyone else’s friends and relatives are exchanging gift cards or empty-calorie cookies this holiday season, why not gift a unique, healthy treat you’ve handcrafted yourself? Generous nut-butter makers will find themselves much appreciated by those on the receiving end of that creamy goodness.