When I first dipped my toe into the vegan world, I bought both almond and cashew nut butters. I found the first had a slightly bitter back note and the latter was too sweet. I tried other brands, but they were all the same. Well I thought: “How hard can it be to make my own?”
The answer, as many of you will know, it’s no effort at all. I now regularly whip up all manner of butters, pastes and spreads. Here’s my recipe, if you can call it that, for my Homemade Almond and Cashew Nut Butter. This amount generally lasts me about a month.
1. Pre-heat oven to 185ºC/350ºF/ 165ºC fan/Gas Mark 4 to gently toast the nuts, helping them release their oils. Around 5-8 minutes should be enough. Note: cashews will brown quicker than almonds.
2. Tip nuts into food processor, add salt and pulse. You’ll need to stop and frequently scrape down the sides of the bowl. The nuts will go through various stages. Be patient, unless of course you’ve got one of those super duper processors/mixers than achieves the correct consistency in mere nano-seconds.
3. Stage 1 is what I’d call finely chopped.
4. Stage 2 is where the mix hugs the side of the bowl.
5. Stage 3 is where it starts to come together.
6. Stage 4 is wet sand.
7. Stage 5 is big clumps – not far to go now.
8. Stage 6 is the desired creamy consistency. Stop now and fill a sterile jar. I find one with a wide-neck is always easier for butters.
I had another situation earlier this week with which you may also be familiar. I fancied some homemade hummus – is there any other sort? Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)? Check. Olive oil? Check. Lemons? Check. Garlic? Check. Tahini paste? Oh no!
Again, don’t let that stop you. As I discovered, it’s super simple to make yourself and tastes way better than store-bought! Tahini paste is simply sesame seeds – I use whole ones – that are toasted and processed with a light-tasting virgin olive oil to make a paste.
As a rule of thumb, I use 1 cup of sesame seeds to 1 tbsp olive oil. But start by toasting the seeds, as per above. Again, they’ll take 5-8 minutes to toast.
The processing is slightly different, although the paste goes through similar stages, you may need to add extra olive oil to obtain the texture you require.
Again, spoon into a wide-necked jar and keep in the fridge for a couple of months, or however long it lasts.
1. Do NOT leave the kitchen while the nuts and/or seeds are toasting. They go from toasted to burnt all too quickly. I typically use a timer.
2. Alternatively, use untoasted nuts and seeds.
3. Nut and seed butters are all about the quality of the base ingredients. Use the freshest products you can find, preferably organic.
4. Always put the finished product into a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge.
5. You can ramp up the flavour in the nut butter by using a different mix of nuts, by adding cinnamon or vanilla, or indeed a couple of tbsp cocoa and a drizzle of maple syrup for a better and more flavourful nutella-type spread.
6. Tahini isn’t just used in hummus, it’s a popular staple in Middle Eastern, Greek, and East Asian cooking. It’s used in Turkish dip Tahin Pekmez – a sort of Turkish peanut butter and jelly – with Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel and in mutabal. My beloved likes it on grilled lamb and shwarma.