Cook’s Illustrated magazine recently convened a peanut butter tasting panel, and discovered that hardly anyone liked “natural” peanut butter products! Most natural versions lacked the ideal sweet-salty balance people craved, plus the dense, gritty texture of the various natural and organic brands couldn’t stand up to the conventional favorites’ texture in baked goods and other recipes. But I wondered whether you could go one step further and get great results by roasting your own peanuts at home, and then following a recipe more closely aligned with those of the conventional winners (using natural ingredients, of course). Turns out you can!
Below is a recipe for homemade peanut butter — 100 percent natural! — that factors in the conventional peanut butter flavors that wowed the Cook’s Illustrated judges, but also boasts the natural goodness of freshly roasted peanuts. The judges’ top picks had a few things in common: slightly higher sugar and salt content, as well as the addition of some oil, which improves mouthfeel. One standout also included a touch of molasses to boost the peanuts’ dark, roasted flavor. If the result is seriously soul-satisfying homemade peanut butter, I see no reason why a completely natural, homemade version shouldn’t also include these elements.
1 pound raw peanuts in the shells
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp honey
1 tsp molasses
1 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
Roast peanuts according to the instructions in Easy Roasted Peanuts in the Shell Recipe. Opt for a longer roast if you want a robust, dark-roast-flavored peanut butter. Allow the peanuts to cool slightly before shelling and skinning them by rubbing them between your fingers. (A dry salad spinner can help make quick work of spinning off the skins . Spin about a cup of peanuts at a time.) Add the peanuts, salt, honey and molasses to a food processor and process for a couple of minutes, scraping the sides down every now and then. Continue to process as you slowly add the oil in a stream, until the mixture is fully blended and smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should last 2 to 3 months.
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