The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to make peanut butter

Making your own peanut butter is pretty simple --- the hardest part is shelling the nuts.  Except for the three and a half months it takes for the nuts to mature in the ground, a cup of peanut butter takes an hour to an hour and a half to make.

Grow the Peanuts
Peanuts pulled out of the ground.The hardest part of growing peanuts is choosing the right variety for your area.  We decided to grow Early Spanish peanuts, one of the few varieties which can be grown outside the Deep South.  This variety needs only about 100 days to mature, unlike other varieties which take another month or so. 

In general, peanuts need relatively soft soil so that they can push their fertilized flowers into the soil to develop into nuts below ground. 
We had good luck growing our peanuts in raised beds.  To make one cup of peanut butter, plant a bed about three feet wide by eight feet long.

Plant the peanuts after your frost-free date has passed, then leave them alone.  Before the fall frost, pull the whole plants out of the ground and lay them out to dry.  Fresh peanuts contain a mild toxin, so don't eat any until they've had a few days to cure.

Shell the Peanuts
Roast peanutsNow comes the annoying part --- shelling the nuts.  After shelling until my fingers were sore, I started using a nutcracker and had much better results.  If anyone comes up with a quicker way to shell their peanuts, let me know!  This is the step that prevents me from growing dozens of beds of the plants.

Roast the Peanuts
Now that your peanuts are shelled out, lay them one nut deep on a baking tray and bake at 350 F for about 10 minutes, shaking the tray halfway through to turn the nuts.  The nuts will make popping noises a bit like popcorn and your cat will want to jump into the oven to figure out what the noise is.  Don't let him in!

Grind the Peanuts
Now it's time to make peanut butter!  Pour all of your nuts into a food processor, add a little oil if you want, and turn it on.  First the nuts will turn into a peanut meal --- don't do what I did and give up and put in some oil at this stage.  I don't think it was necessary (and would love to hear from someone who managed to make the peanut butter without oil.)

Peanut butterKeep processing and the meal will turn into a rough paste and then into a finer paste.  I found it useful to rotate the processor from left to right as it ground the nuts.  Once the peanut butter has formed, add a bit of salt if you want (but only a tiny bit!)  Some people may want to add brown sugar at this stage as well.

Time to eat!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Great recipe, worked very well and was easy to follow. Thank you
Comment by Anonymous Mon Nov 2 11:34:26 2009
I'm glad to hear it worked for you! Thanks for giving it a shot.
Comment by anna Mon Nov 2 19:36:04 2009
I find that a blender is better than a food processor. Important! Use only 1 1/2 cups of nuts for each batch. You will have to stop it from time to time to work the mixture from the edges to the center, but as it processes and gets warm it will blend and liquify. If the nuts are fresh you will not need any oil. I now use 1 cup of peanuts and 1/2 cup of cashews for a flavor treat. My problem is finding salt free shelled peanuts. I will start shelling and roasting mine now.
Comment by Anonymous Fri Apr 11 17:13:35 2014
Using an old manual meat mincer (grinder) makes perfect peanut butter in a very short time.
Comment by Anonymous Wed Nov 9 13:07:35 2016

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