Making my own All Natural Nut Butters at home is an activity that I truly enjoy.
Call me weird, but I find it super relaxing. Sometimes, I’ll whip up a batch just because… you know. Some people will grab a good book, others will run themselves a warm bath or go for a nice, long walk. Some will do crossword puzzles, draw, paint or watch the tube for a wee while.
I, will make Nut Butters.
Maybe it’s because to me, this is what is closest to baking, only when making Nut Butters, I get to keep the fruit of my labor for months, whereas when baking, the goods pretty much have to be consumed in a matter of days, which really isn’t ideal when you have no one to share said goods with. Eating an entire cheesecake to one self over the course of a week, or a dozen sweet potato brownies, or a full loaf of banana bread before it goes bad, isn’t the healthiest thing to do!
There’s always the option to freeze them for later, in most cases, but truth is my freezer if getting quite full already with some of my past creations.
So Nut Butters, I make. Lots of ‘em, too much of ‘em. Some, like this one, using only a single variety of nuts (or seeds), some using a delicious combination of different nuts and seeds and some even including other tasty additions.
My Nut Butters all have one thing in common, though. I absolutely hate the idea of adding oil to them. Most recipes will have you add some kind of oil to your nuts right from the start, which, I have to admit, really helps in kick-starting the process and have your nuts quickly turn into butter.
But, the thing is, I find it changes the final consistency of the Nut Butter. I like mine to be as thick as can be, and the addition of oil tends to make the final product somewhat loose and runny. Sorry, NOT a fan.
All nuts will turn to butter if you give them time, even without the addition of oil. You just need to be patient, that’s all. But you’ll be rewarded with a product that, in my humble opinion, is far superior, if not in taste, at least in texture!
Oh, and about this particular Seed Butter? If you’ve never tried Toasted Sunflower Seed Butter before, by all means, make a batch right now. The flavor is plain out of this world yummy. It’s nutty, smokey, bold and simply delicious. It’s like shoving a handful of salted toasted sunflowers in your mouth, but to the tenth power.
Start with a bunch of beautiful RAW sunflower seeds, organic if you can!
Lay the seeds in a thin, flat and even layer onto a large baking sheet
Bake them in a 350F oven, moving them around frequently, until they get slightly golden and the house is filled with the most delicious and intoxicating nutty aroma, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Be careful not to overdo this. Sunflower seeds are very delicate and will burn very easily, which will make them taste nasty. You want the seeds to keep a fairly light golden coloration.
Let the seeds cool slightly, then transfer them to the bowl of your food processor. Don’t let them get too cold, however. The oils will get released a lot faster and easier if the seeds are still nice and warm.
Start processing the seeds. In total, it should take about 25 to 30 minutes to get from seed to butter. After the initial 2 minutes, this is what you should be looking at. Yeah. I know what you’re thinking. That looks exactly like COARSE SAND.
Nothing really appetizing so far!
Let’s give our seeds a couple more minutes on the spin cycle. Aaaah! Much better: now we have what looks like WET coarse sand.
Pffft. Still not even close to resembling something that I’d want to eat… let’s keep going.
Another couples of minutes later, the seeds will want to clump up and start looking like… CEMENT.
Great! Now you’ll be thinking: this is going nowhere. I’ve just ruined a whole bunch of sunflower seeds. GAH!
Start the motor once again. Now this is probably the point where you’re gonna start wanting to add all sorts of things to this bowl. You’re gonna start thinking that there is no way this is ever going to happen. You’ll be reviewing the content of your cupboards in your mind, wondering what you have in there that you could possibly add to this big mass of cement to help it relax and become nice and smooth for you.
By all means, resist the urge.
Just keep going. Yeah, I know. This looks like sand and rocks. Probably something that belongs in the yard more than it does in the pantry. But trust. The magic WILL happen.
I’m warning you, though. You’re probably gonna have to stop that motor fairly often. The blade will tend to dig and spin right underneath the mass, which isn’t really efficient at breaking it down. So you’re gonna have to help it and manually destroy that lump from time to time so it gets in the blade’s path.
Keep spinning and breaking and spinning and breaking…
See? I told you. The seeds are FINALLY starting to release some of their oil. HA! Now we’re getting somewhere!
Getting somewhere, perhaps, but not out of the woods just yet. At this point, the mass is mostly going to just go round and round and round the bowl. S.L.O.W.L.Y.
So again, every couple of turns (it will take a good minute for this big solid clump of nut butter to make a full revolution around bowl) you’ll want to stop the motor, break that big blob down and get it going again.
For the better part of the next 8 to 10 minutes, this is what you will be staring at. A mass of nut butter that’s very slowly spinning in circles. I say you should enjoy the process, though, for it is very fascinating. As the mass spins around that bowl, the butter releases more and more oil, and becomes more and more relaxed.
You’ll probably become so enthralled with looking at it go that you’ll most likely find yourself holding your breath at some point, waiting for that culminating moment where the ball finally collapses to the bottom of the bowl in the most delicious way.
And eventually… it happens! Oh yeah! The butter completely relaxes and abandons the fight. It surrenders to the power of the blade and accepts to stay nicely in its path, at the bottom of the bowl.
Phew, you can start breathing again!
From this point on, you won’t have to stop the motor as often. Just let it run for a good 5 to 10 minutes, stopping a couple of times just to scrape the sides a little bit. Oh, and don’t be alarmed if you notice that your nut butter is getting very hot. It’s totally normal. With all the friction that’s going on, it does become almost as hot as if you’d actually been cooking it…
If, on the other hand, the motor of your food processor appears to be heating up, that’s not a good thing. You might want to give it a little bit of a rest from time to time if you feel that the task at hand is too much for it to handle.
When your Sunflower Seed Butter is creamy enough for you and has reached the desired consistency, throw in the salt and vanilla extract and then get it going for one final minute, just to make sure that everything is well incorporated.
Transfer your finished Sunflower Seed butter to an airtight glass jar.
Sprinkle a few sunflower seeds on top, just to make it even prettier.
Now try to keep your hands (and fingers and spoons and whatever other “dippable” contraption) off, at least until the next day. I find fresh nut butter always taste better after resting for a few days.
And if you want some right away, you can always lick that bowl clean!
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