Going beyond peanut butter, nut butters have become more widely available and made with more varieties of nuts than before. While the definition of a “natural” nut butter is not regulated, it generally refers to nut butters that contain only nuts (and perhaps salt and oil) with no stabilizers, which creates a spread that separates (oil rises to the top) and must be stirred before use.
Make the most out of these protein-packed spreads:
Separation anxiety. An opened jar of natural nut butter can be stored in a cool, dry place. To minimize separation, whirl nut butter in a stand mixer and then refrigerate it. Or place the jar upside down in a small bowl or plastic container (to prevent leaking), so the oil slowly seeps through the nut paste.
Upgrade frosting. For baked goods such as cupcakes, quick breads or muffins, cut out extra sugar by using creamy nut butter instead of frosting. Heat nut butter in the microwave for 10 seconds, whisk in a few teaspoons of milk, then frost baked goods.
Go savory. Use nut butters in sauces for stir-fry, pasta and roasted vegetable dishes. For a simple sauce, blend together 1?3 cup peanut butter, 2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons orange juice and a dash of red pepper flakes.
Use every last spoonful. Before recycling the jar, reuse it to make overnight oats. The oats will sop up remaining bits of nut butter stuck in places of the jar that utensils can’t reach.
Grind it at home. Use a high-speed blender or food processor to make your own nut butter. Here’s a basic formula (which yields approximately 1½ cups):
2 cups raw unsalted nuts + ¾ teaspoon salt* + 2 to 4 teaspoons oil
*If you’re using salted nuts, omit the ¾ teaspoon salt.
Flavor it. Use a mixer to blend these flavor-enhancing ingredients with 1 cup of your favorite nut butter:
• Mocha Nut Butter: Add 1 teaspoon instant coffee + 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa + 1 teaspoon sugar
• Honey Nut Butter: Add 2 teaspoons honey
• Cinnamon Nut Butter: Add 2 teaspoons cinnamon + 1 teaspoon sugar
• Spicy Nut Butter: Add 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
Refrigerate homemade nut butter for up to six months.
DIY Nut Butter Hacks
Toast those nuts: Roasting or toasting nuts before processing adds extra flavor and starts to release nuts’ natural oils, which makes the grinding process easier.
Keep it fresh: Avoid using shelled nuts that are older than four months; they will have less flavor, are harder to grind and run the risk of going rancid.
Go skinless: Opt for nuts without skins, such as blanched almonds and raw peanuts; ground-up skins become gritty and may create an unpleasant mouthfeel.
Make it chunky: Coarsely chop an additional ½ cup nuts. Once the nut butter is at the consistency you like, add in extra nuts and process for 10 seconds until they’re just mixed in.