Mother Earth News Blogs > Real Food

Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

Nuts for Peanut Butter

peanut butter jar
It's amazing how much peanut butter we consume in our house. Between two small children and one adult peanut butter fanatic, we go through it pretty quickly. The store brands of natural peanut butter are expensive and the commercial kinds aren't exactly great because they are loaded with fun things like stabilizers and partially hydrogenated oils. Many stores also have the "u-grind" peanut butter dispenser in their bulk or natural food sections, but they tend to result in a rather flavorless (albeit nutty) spread.

So, how about making it yourself so you can make a more flavorful blend? Since peanuts are fairly inexpensive per pound, you will find that if you eat a lot of peanut butter, you will save money by making it yourself at home. Better yet, try growing your own peanuts, shelling and roasting them to make your own. It doesn't get any more inexpensive than that. Well, except for your own cost of labor, but we just won't include that, will we?

Spanish peanuts work better for making peanut butter as they have a higher percentage of oil. But if you can't find them, just increase the amount of peanut oil you use to make it more spreadable. You can even add honey for a smoother consistency and a sweeter spread. 

Heck, if you are feeling adventurous, mix in melted dark chocolate (1/8 to 1/4 cup) for a superdecadent treat!


2 cups roasted shelled peanuts

1 to 2 tbsp peanut oil

1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted nuts)

2 tsp honey (optional) 


peanuts in processorPlace peanuts in a food processor with the oil (adjust as necessary if you are not using Spanish peanuts). A good rule of thumb if you are not using a high fat peanut is to use approximately 2 tablespoons of peanut oil for every cup of peanuts you use. Process the nuts and oil until the desired consistency is reached, adding in additional peanut oil or honey if it is not creamy enough to your liking.

If you prefer a chunkier blend, add in an additional 1/2 cup of chopped nuts at the end.

Make sure you store this in the fridge in an airtight container - it should last about two months. But I guarantee you, it won't make it that long.

deanna duke_1
11/12/2008 1:45:53 PM

Paul - I hope it works out for you! KM - There are many arguments to be made regarding the choice of organic peanuts. I do not know about the crop rotation with cotton, but it appears that quite a bit of the organic peanut crop is actually grown in the Southwest due to drier conditions and less problems with weeds than in the South. The issue with non-organic crops (of any kind) are generally the potential health risks of ingesting pesticides, the oftentimes lower nutritional value of non-organics and the damage to the environment due to non-organic farming practices (lowered soil fertility, affected native species, etc.). However, if you can't afford organic peanuts over conventionally grown ones, well it's better to spend your money on nutritional foods. So, if buying organic peanuts forces you to scrimp on other healthy foods and replace them with something not so healthy, then that is something to consider. Paula - I would advise buying pre-shelled, roasted peanuts in bulk. Unless you can find a significant cost savings in buying them in shell and roasting them yourself, shelling several cups of peanuts does take a while.

11/8/2008 9:13:52 AM

I also have a question about buying the peanuts for this. Do you buy the peanuts already shelled or in the shell. If they are shelled, do they come bagged or canned? Where's the best place to look for them in bulk?

keely massie
11/8/2008 7:22:19 AM

Thanks for the peanut butter info. I have been meaning to do this for... a long time now! Question: In trying to prioritize budget-wise, I was wondering if you know about the relative importance of choosing organic peanuts? I seem to remember hearing that peanuts are often crop-rotated with cotton, one of the most sprayed crops- do you know anything more about that? I need to stretch my food dollars, and I live in a state that produces lots of peanuts, so would like to know what to consider to make an informed decision.

paul gardener
11/7/2008 2:28:27 PM

D~ That's awsome! I've made peanut butter before but never realized that I could make it with our food processor. I'm all over this one. I have one kid that I swear if he gets cut would bleed PB. Thanks again. P~