Peanuts are not really nuts, they are legumes. However, they resemble a nut in that they have a lot of fat and some protein in them. Nuts, because of their high-fat content, are not good candidates for long term storage. All nuts and peanuts should be stored in the freezer which slows the fat from going rancid. Roasting peanuts brings out their oil and gives them an even shorter shelf life than raw peanuts. I love to eat raw peanuts but I may be in the minority since most people like to eat peanuts roasted with a bit of salt. Really, I think the most popular way to eat peanuts is in the form of peanut butter.
Traditional peanut butter is a popular food storage item but it’s not the healthiest choice. In order for traditional peanut butter to not separate and remain creamy, hydrogenated oil is added (that’s the bad oil). Natural peanut butter has peanuts and maybe some salt. That’s it. It separates at room temperature and has to be stirred when first opened. To read more about the difference between traditional peanut butter and natural peanut butter click here.
After the first big peanut butter salmonella scare a few years ago, I was concerned. But I didn’t take matters into my own hands then because I had already switched to natural peanut butter and the worry was over traditional peanut butter. Well, after the many outbreaks that have occurred over the last year, I am outraged! And I was worried! I got a call from Costco telling me to bring back my two pack of natural peanut butter, one jar of which was already gone. Enough is enough! Luckily, peanut butter is not that hard to make. The only thing that had really stopped me before from making it, is that there is no price break when making your own. Is a matter of fact, I find it a bit more expensive. That’s ok, I’ll pay the extra and do the extra work to know my family is safe.
In order to keep the price down, I wanted to look for the cheapest peanuts I could find. Turns out I have a great Indian market near me with a large selection of nuts for a good price. When looking for peanuts you have a few choices: you can buy the raw peanuts with the skins still on, you can buy semi-raw peanuts that have been blanched and the skins have been removed or you can get roasted peanuts. I wanted to have control over the contamination issue so I wanted to roast my own peanuts. Besides, I have made peanut butter from roasted peanuts that I have bought before but the taste is just not really good – too much salt, or maybe too much oil (sometimes they add extra oil when roasting and sometimes they even fry the peanuts). The blanched nuts cost more than the raw nuts so you have to decide if it’s worth the extra effort to remove the skins if you’re making peanut butter. I think it is. I have a secret weapon! More on that later.
Here’s how I make peanut butter.
I bought peanuts on sale. Turns out the skin is actually a membrane for the peanut and helps it reproduce. Read more about peanut skins here.
Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Don’t put too many on a tray – you want them in a single layer.
Turn them once or twice.
After the peanuts have cooled, gently remove the skins by rolling the nuts between your hands. There are a number of ways you can crunch the skins off. I find the rolling method to work the fastest.
When you are done you will still have bits of the skins on your tray or in your bowl.
My secret weapon! Don’t laugh, it works. Ok, you can laugh, it’s kinda funny.
You might want to use the blow drier outside. It gets a little messy with skins flying everywhere. But the job gets done and the skins are completely removed from the pan.
I don’t have chickens or other farm animals but I hear the skins make a great feed for livestock. They are actually really good for humans too but I’m thinking they wouldn’t make smooth peanut butter.
You’ll need a food processor and about 3 tablespoons of salt to one pan of peanuts to make the peanut butter.
The food processor starts out a bit loud but just let it go.
It takes a while.
Soon the oil in the nuts will start to come out and you’ll have big lumps.
Then a pasty butter.
Finally, it will start to smooth out.
After 15 to 20 minutes in the food processor (some models might be faster, I have an old one), you’ll get creamy warm peanut butter.
It should pour easily into a Mason jar.
You can store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. It does firm up in the refrigerator and I’ve done some research as to whether you can store it at room temperature. (Disclaimer: I am not an expert.) Peanuts have a really bad smell and taste when they go rancid so the likelihood of you actually eating it before you smell that it’s gone bad are slim. If you eat peanut butter daily then it’s probably OK to store it at room temperature. I usually just let it set out a few minutes before I spread it on bread or spoon it in my mouth.