The Basics: Nut Butter Tutorial

July 6, 2013 § 5 Comments

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So I’ve decided to have an ongoing series called The Basics, with all of the regular food I make every week – things like fermented foods, nut butters, mylks and the previously posted dairy-free yoghurt.

I’m aware there are a million brilliant tutorials on these already, but over the course of learning how to make each of these I have found my own screaming-child-needs-attention-while-I’m-trying-to-make-food shortcuts approach so I’m going to share these with you. And I’m vain and want a place to admire all my hard work.

This week it’s nut butter, which seems easy but with which I’ve had my fair share of failures. So, to keep this post short and sweet, here are my main tips:

+ Make sure your food processor or blender is COMPLETELY dry, or the mixture can seize and won’t butter up properly.

+ If you want to soak your nuts and seeds first to ‘activate’ them and shut off the enzyme inhibitors, again, make sure you dry them completely in your dehydrator. If using this method you will need to add a little oil when you are processing them in the blender or food processor, preferably one from the same nut/seed. Be aware, if you use something like olive oil, the butter will taste like olive oil. Macadamia oil is my fave.

+ I prefer to roast my nuts instead – this is because currently I don’t have a dehydrator and because it makes the processing part SO much faster (cooking releases the oils). Plus I prefer the flavour. Just 5-10 minutes in a medium oven (around 180degC) should do it – check regularly so they don’t burn. I do this with almonds and hazelnuts, but not the other oily nuts.

+ Almonds make a great base, but it’s fun to play around with different nuts and seeds – I especially love adding walnuts and hemp seeds for the omega-3 factor and Brazil nuts for the selenium. Cashews and macadamias make a very rich, creamy butter, and hazelnuts lend a nutella quality.

+ You will need at least 2 cups of nuts if making in a food processor, and 3 if using a Vitamix or similar.

+ I make my nut butter in a Magimix 3200 food processor. I’ve made it in my Vitamix before but I hate the way you can’t get all the butter out from under the blades, and I quite like the process of the, erm, processor. It takes time, and you have to stop and scrape the sides and give it a couple of rests, but it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes if using raw nuts, and only 5-7 minutes if using roasted ones.  In saying that, length of time will depend on your processor – what you’re wanting is RUNNY butter, with a glossy sheen. So when it starts getting smooth, keep going. Only when it runs smoothly off a spoon like thin pancake batter is it ready. My Magimix is a workhorse and I love it – if you are worried your processor or blender might not be up to the task, please don’t blow it up on account of this post!

+ It will be loud for the first minute or so (I put a double hand mitt over the top to dull some of the sound for this part so the kids don’t cry) but should quieten down fairly quickly. I often get everything set up when my daughter is napping, then turn it on once she’s awake. Poor thing gets woken enough by her brother.

+ If you can, store your nuts and seeds in the freezer. I currently keep mine in the fridge but will soon be setting a freezer up in our basement. They go rancid easily (same goes for whole grains).

+Don’t add the salt until the end, as it may also cause the butter to seize.

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My Favourite Nut Butter (vegan, gluten free, soy free, sugar free)
2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup raw shelled walnuts
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup Brazil nuts
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 180degC. Place almonds on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, checking regularly to ensure they don’t burn. Remove as soon as they start to brown slightly and you can smell them. Combine with all other ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides. Once runny, add salt to taste – I sometimes leave it out, or will do half a jar without for the kids and half with heaps for me, because I LOVE IT. Scoop into a clean jar and store in the fridge. Should keep well for a couple of weeks or longer. Use it on everything. I put mine on toast, pancakes, muesli, in desserts and treats, salad dressings, in/on Nice Cream, eat it straight from the jar….

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The Basics: Vegan Nut Cheese Tutorial

February 25, 2013 § 3 Comments

Say Cheese! Kind of....

Vegan Almond Cheese (vegan, gluten free, raw if blanching almonds is considered so?)
2 cups raw whole almonds, soaked in water overnight
1 cup water
1 tsp (dairy-free if vegan) probiotic powder (if using capsules, break open – I used 4 or 5)
1 tsp salt
2 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast

extras: pink peppercorns, dried dill, garlic powder, sea salt

Drain soaked almonds, then plunge into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds. Drain again and when cool enough pop the skins off (hence why I prefer time saving macadamias, but they’re too expensive to buy shelled, and take waaaay too long to shell individually at home).
Put blanched almonds in Vitamix or similar with water and probiotics and blend until smooth.
Line a sieve with cheesecloth and sit it over a bowl. Pour mixture onto cloth, then cover with more cloth and weigh down with some heavy jars (fill jars with water for extra weight). This is to squeeze the excess moisture out.
Leave on benchtop for 12-24 hours to culture. When it starts smelling like soiled baby nappies you’re ready to add the flavours! Test for your preferred level of cultured-ness though (I like mine tangy).
Pop firmed up cheese into a bowl, and add salt and nutritional yeast and mix well with a fork to combine. This is your basic ‘feta’. You can either serve like this or mould some into rounds and cover in crushed peppercorns and salt, or add dill and garlic powder, then pop in dehydrator for about 6 hours each side until it forms a rind.
Serve with crackers! In a salad! Or straight from the fridge like I do….
Will keep in fridge for about a week.

There are plenty of variations of this online if you google raw vegan cheese – can use cashews or macadamias, I’m even looking into walnut blue cheese. Plus you can use miso or rejuvelac as the kick starter for the fermentation process too. Have some fun with it!

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