The first Whole Foods came to the Pittsburgh market in 2002, a few years after I moved to the area, so I remember the locals’ reaction. It was the first store of its kind in Pittsburgh, and it was quite the attraction for some time. And the one thing everyone marveled over was the nut butter grinder. “You can make your own ‘homemade’ peanut butter!” Amazing.
As a runner and plant-based eater, nuts are on my daily menu. They’re a great source of healthy fats and a good source of protein, and they’re calorie dense to replenish what I burn through exercise. Plus I use them as a stand-in for cheese atop salads and pastas, since they lend a similar richness (and saltiness, if you use salted varieties). Nut butters are also a delicious—never mind easy—dip for veggies like raw carrots and celery, which helps me fit even more vegetables into my day.
So, peanut butter is a staple in my house, and because I eat so much of it, I want to make sure it’s as natural as possible. Most store-bought peanut butters are enhanced with added sugars and oils, which aren’t cool with me. Sure, I can buy natural peanut butter, but it’s expensive and I hate having to stir in the separated oils. Or I could go down to Whole Foods and use the nut butter grinder, but I’m sure that’s just as expensive, and never mind the hassle of getting there from Beaver County.
So instead, I make my own peanut butter at home. It’s simple and foolproof, takes less than five minutes, and, best of all, you can control everything you put into it. I usually just use peanuts and salt, but sometimes I’ll add a tiny bit of blackstrap molasses for a kiss of sweetness and a touch of extra iron and calcium.
Homemade Peanut Butter
Place peanuts in your food processor (or high-speed blender, like Vitamix or Blendtec, if you have one) and process until smooth. This can take about 5 minutes, and you may need to stop it now and then and stir or redistribute the nuts until they reach a smoother consistency. When it reaches your desired consistency, add the salt and molasses (if using) and process until just combined. Transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator to prevent separation.