I can’t believe it’s nut butter- tasting notes on nut spread

Peanut butter was one of the first store cupboard standards I ever made from scratch and remains one of my most repeated creations. Of all the DIY food projects you could undertake  making peanut butter must be the easiest. It basically boils down to two steps:

  1. Roast nuts
  2. Blend nuts

Yep that’s it. You can obviously add honey, salt, chilli etc. but it is essentially a one ingredient wonder. It’s so easy that I always have jar at the ready for an afternoon snackerel.

Despite being a fervent devotee of peanut spread I have been slow to expand my blended nut horizons. Google and the bloggersphere indicate that you can butter any nut if you have the volition but, as per golden rule number 5, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I have therefore decided to investigate nut butters for myself (and you, my esteemed readers).

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Obligatory blender shot

Tasting notes

Nut butters are widely consumed on toast, crackers, or even rivita by those who consider joy in life to be optional. I like to cut out the middle man and devour my PB straight from the jar with a spoon. Some regard this the mark of a philistine  but I prefer the term connoisseur. The haters can say what they like, I will be sampling my nut butters neat, like a fine single malt.

1. Classic peanut butter

Peanut butter has a long and rich history. It was first used as cure for toothache by the Aztecs and gained a popular following after its inclusion in the 1916 edition of ‘How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it For Human Consumption’. A riveting read.

The taste: That’s it! the intense, earthy, creamy flavour which reaches right back to the the back of your tounge and the texture which coats the roof of your mouth. It tastes like all good peanut butter should. However I wouldn’t say it is necessarily better than the higher end supermarket brands I’ve tried (and I have sampled many).

The verdict: 8/10 Yes it does taste amazing, but so do many supermarket versions. Basically it isn’t extraordinary.

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2. Caramelised cashew butter

Caramelised: the sophisticated way of saying I forgot to set an oven timer. In an attempt to remedy my error I spent 10 mins scraping the charcoal off my cashews and added a little sesame oil to deconstipate the texture and make the earthy burnt flavour seem intentional.

The taste: Alas, I have neither salvaged the taste, nor thinned the butter. You practically need a pickaxe to get it out of the jar.

The verdict: 3/10. I do apologise to all the lovely cashew butters out there, my poor cookery skills are giving you all a bad name.

3. Walnut Butter

I spent the first half of my summer hunting walnut trees, they are an elusive species. I must admit I’m a bit obsessed. Technically a walnut is the seed of a drupe and is therefore not a true botanical nut. Drupe butter doesn’t have quite the same ring.

The taste: I am already running out of interesting ways to say ‘Yum, this tastes nutty’.

The verdict: Yum, this tastes nutty, 8/10

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Holler to the good people of SESI refill for helping me to fuel my nut habit in a more sustainable way.

4. Hazelnut butter

I ran out of time to mak this.

The taste: Rumoured to be great.

The verdict: Average by default 5/10

 

 

5. Pistachio butter

This unusually aromatic nut was apparently well known to our old friend Pliny the Elder, who appears to be featuring rather prominently on this blog. I chucked some ground cardamon into this batch for good measure.

The taste: Looks like a cowpat, tastes like pistachios.

The verdict: I don’t think the buttering process has enhanced the taste experience, 5/10.

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6. Pecan butter

Did you know pecan trees are prone to leaf blotch? Is the word blotch ever applied to a positive thing? I added a soupçon honey to this batch to enhance the toasty, buttery goodness. Om nom nom.

The taste: What wizardry is this?! It is somehow so much more than its constituent parts. I’m thinking about doing away with the spoon all together and just pouring this straight into my mouth.

The verdict: 9/10. Pecan’t get enough of it.

7. Almond nut butter

Another drupe apparently, they get everywhere! Almonds are native to the Middle East, India and North Africa. I like to think of them as the hipsters of the nut world. If they were people they would sport top nots, wear crop tops and grow ironic facial hair.

“Out of Africa, there is always something drupe.”
― Pliny the Elder

The taste: If I was marketing this product I would lable it ‘The paste without taste’. Actually I definitely wouldn’t. That would be a sales disaster.

The verdict: 4/10 Let’s be generous and say the flavour is ‘subtle’.

End Credits

A special thanks to my two of my new favourite friends/enablers for joining my paste tasting party. I encorporated a number of their comments in my write up and flagrantly ignored the ones I didn’t agree with.

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Two discerning ladies

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the tips! I have actually, rather incredibly, bought myself one of those food processors now, and just need to use it (you should put in an affiliate link, if you can identify a supplier you’re happy to support!). How do you tend to roast the nuts, and for how long? Though I guess there’ll be a fairly forgiving range of temperatures and methods/ lengths of cooking. Might try the pecan butter one day.
    That bread website looks very informative too, though I will save a proper perusal of it for when I can muster the energy to read past such phrases as ‘for those who can’t mill their own einkorn at home….’. Kudos to you for having been able to do so!

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  2. Mary Crosse says:

    I’ve somehow stumbled across this blog and it looks great! Do you have any tips for what food processor to use for making nut butters? I’ve been meaning to get one for ages but keep procrastinating over the features it should have, so any tips would be useful (extra grist for the procrastination mill). Also, the bread you had a picture of in another post looked amazing, would be great to hear about how you made it!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, I’m glad you found the blog! My advice with the food processor is definitely to invest atraight away in a really decent one, around the £40-£50 mark. If you don’t start out with substantial blades and a powerful motor then the machine will get knackered very quickly. I speak from experience here as I went through three of those little combination machines before upgrading. I currently use a Kenwood FP120 Compact which I can thorougly recommend. I hope that helps!

      Breadwise I use the recipes on https://www.theperfectloaf.com/ They are pretty involved but provide excellent results (and the photography on the blog is mouthwatering). Top tip for breadmaking is definitely to use a dutch oven/crock pot which seals in the steam, especially useful if, like me, your oven isn’t great.

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      1. Mary Crosse says:

        Thanks for the tips! I have actually, rather incredibly, bought one of those food processors now (you should put in an affiliate link, if you can find a supplier that you would like to support – I personally was quite glad to have been able to dodge Amazon in this case!). One day I might even make the pecan butter. How did you end up roasting them before blending them? And what amount of pecans would you say a sensible amount to blend is? Guess that depends how much of it you want to eat though!
        That website looks really informative too, but I’ll have to wait till I have enough energy to properly get to grips with their instructions – kudos to you that you’ve managed this feat!

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      2. Ooo, I’ve never put in an affiliate link before, that feels very official!
        I absolutely recommend the pecan butter and would argue that it is even better when you use 1:3 ratio of pecans and hazelnuts (this helps with the consistency and adds to the flavour). I roasted the pecans for about 15 minutes, giving them a good shake halfway through. I seriously encourage you to set a timer as I have lost soooo many trays of nuts to forgetfulness. I reckon 200g of nuts gives you a small-medium jar of butter which is the batch size I tend to aim for. Definitely let me know if you give it a go.
        I like to use the bread website for guidelines rather than rules. I tend to round his amounts to the nearest 5g and have absolutely no idea waht einkorn is!

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