Nut butter can be easily made in the home, but nearly all the prepared nut foods on sale require expensive machinery and a steam plant to produce, hence can not be made in the home.
Peanuts and almonds are the nuts most suitable for making nut butter. The other varieties are difficult to blanch and do not make good butter. The best variety of peanuts for making nut butter is the Spanish shelled. They are the most easily blanched. Removing the skins from the nuts after they are shelled is called blanching. Peanuts can not be blanched unless they have been thoroughly heated.
To properly cook peanuts is the essential thing to produce a healthful, palatable nut butter. This can be accomplished if care is exercised. There are three ways of cooking them: namely, baking or roasting, boiling, and steaming. The baking process is the easiest way, but care should be used not to scorch them. Scorched or burnt peanuts are unfit to use in any form.
Put a layer of peanuts about one-half inch deep in a dripping-pan and place on perforated shelf in a moderate oven. Allow them to bake slowly for about one hour. Cook them until they are a light brown or straw color. Shake the pan or stir the peanuts every few minutes. When the kernels begin to crack and pop they brown very quickly and should be watched closely.
A splendid way to cook them is to fill a tight-covered dish about two-thirds full, place in the oven, and shake occasionally. When cooked this way, they are not so liable to burn, and they retain their flavor better. When they have cooked sufficiently, spread out at once. When they have become quite cool, blanch as follows: This can be done by rubbing them in the hands, or what is better, a coarse bag, or take a piece of cloth and fold the ends together, forming a bag. Another good device is a screen made of coarse wire. Rub them until the skins are loose. The chaff can be removed by using a fan or by pouring them from one dish to another where the wind is blowing. Look them over carefully, removing defective nuts and foreign substances.
The next step is to grind them. The most practical family mill we know of for grinding nuts, etc., is the Quaker City Mill (see cut and description of same in this book).
Always grind freshly cooked nuts, as they do not make good butter when left a day or two after being cooked.
Thoroughly heat the nuts in an oven, but do not let them brown. Allow them to cool, then blanch as described in process No. 1. Boil them from three to four hours, until they are tender. Drain, spread out on tins, and thoroughly dry them; then grind them through the mill.
Heat and blanch the same as for No. 2. Grind them through a meat chopper or the nut butter mill loosely adjusted. Then cook them in a steam cooker about four hours. When tender, drain, spread on tins, and thoroughly dry them. Then run them through the mill tightly adjusted.
Prepare nuts as described in process No. 1. Sprinkle salt on the kernels when grinding. It is much more preferable to grind the salt in with the nuts than to mix it in the butter.
Almond butter is more diffcult to make than peanut butter, on account of the difficulty in removing the skins. Dry heat does not loosen the skins as it does the peanut. To blanch almonds, soak them in boiling water from two to five minutes; then the skins become loose and can be pinched off by pressing on the nut with the thumb and finger; the skins will crack and the kernel pop out. Dry them in a slow oven until they become thoroughly dry and crisp, taking care not to burn them. Then grind them through a loosely adjusted mill. Place on tins or on a cloth stretched over the stove until perfectly dry. Then grind then in the nut butter mill tightly adjusted.
This makes excellent butter if the almonds are first-class and sweet.
Remove the brown, woody skins with a sharp knife and put the nuts through the mill. They may have to be broken up before they can be ground. This butter is very good, but somewhat expensive. It is cheaper to buy the nuts already shelled.
Heat the peanuts sufficiently to remove the skins, but do not brown them. Blanch and look over. Boil or steam them until tender, taking care to have them quite dry when done. Drain off all the water possible and put them through a colander. Put on tins suspended over the stove, or in a slow oven, with the door open, taking care not to brown them. When prefectly dry and hard, grind through the mill loosely adjusted. If it is not fine enough, spread out to dry some more, pass through the mill again more tightly adjusted, but if the mill is too tight, it will grind it into butter. A good plan is to rub it through a flour sieve.
Put one-half the amount of butter required for the meal into a bowl and dilute with an equal quantity of water, adding a little of the water at a time, beating it thoroughly with a fork until it is smooth and light. Enough water should be used to make it the proper consistency to spread nicely. An egg beater or wire potato masher is an excellent utensil for mixing. A little salt can be added if desired. Nut butter when mixed-with water does not keep but a few hours.
Cook the peanuts until they just begin to turn brown. Then make into butter, ground as fine as possible. Emulsify with water until it is the consistency of milk. Then put in double boiler and cook until it has become as thick as ordinary cream. A little salt can be added if desired. Serve it hot or cold as preferred. It can be made into milk by adding a little water.