Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First foray into homemade nut butters!

So I've been wanting to get into nut butters for a while because nuts/seeds (more importantly, raw) are a great way to consume your daily fat needs, since they are a good source of omegas, high in nutrients (unlike processed oils) and still contain fiber (again, unlike oils).*  Also, who doesn't love some nut butter?  And they are useful for creating dressings and sauces as well.  I made a great asian peanut sauce the other day to put over brown rice and veggies (even though yes I know peanuts are technically a legume not a nut), and made an even greater salad dressing recently that uses homemade raw cashew butter.  So here are my initial attempts at cashew butter (this was actually my second attempt cause I forgot pictures with the first).

So I took 2 cups of raw cashews - pieces to be exact because they are cheaper than whole raw cashews - and dumped them in my food processor.  I had a rough guideline to go by from this tutorial over on Kristen's Raw blog (which I really enjoy reading).  Basically it involves running the food processor for 5-7 minutes, scraping down sides as needed and adding a bit of oil for better blending if needed. So I turned on the food processor and started processing!  I had to scrape down the sides a lot once it started to get sticky, but I kept going for around 5 minutes and had pretty awesome raw cashew butter in the end.  Here are some pics so you can see the different stages it took.

Cashew meal - just after the cashew pieces became fully ground up.

Starting to get sticky as you can see from the sides.  This is where I started having to scrape down the sides of the bowl in order for it to keep mixing.

This was shortly after I added 2 Tbsp of olive oil to help it continue mixing.  I guess the oils just weren't extruding enough on their own to really get it to finish blending.  So I did 1 Tbsp per cup of cashews.

This was near the 5 minute mark when it finally started to get creamy instead of just sticky (like the above picture). 

And here is the final product!

Some notes:  
-The 2 cups of cashew pieces made around 1.5 cups of butter.  
-I think if my food processor had been higher quality with a stronger motor, I might not have had to add the extra olive oil, since some recipes don't indicate you need to use extra oil.  But 2 Tbsp per 2 cups of nuts doesn't bother me too much.  
-While it was obviously very stiff and sticky, the texture itself was pretty smooth - smooth enough I felt good about feeding it to Charlie (who still has to eat smooth purees due to his dysphagia)
-The butter does become warm after being processed for that long - does that mean it is no longer raw?  Nope.  I checked the temp at the end, which didn't get above 100 degrees, and from what I've read, so long as your food is under 115 degrees it is still considered raw (for all the people who were wanting raw nut butter specifically).

So there is my first attempt a a nut butter!  :)  I'm pretty excited about it actually.  Next on my list will probably be raw almond butter and not-raw peanut butter.

*It is fairly easy to over eat on nuts and nut butters, so while raw nuts and butters are a great way to consume healthy fats (as opposed to more unhealthy fatty foods), don't think you can just eat spoon after spoon of nut butter with no consequences - especially if you are trying to lose weight!

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