D.I.Y. Peanut butter

I stared at the gaping space on the shelf where our favorite peanut butter usually was. I should have seen it coming, but like all such calamities, I didn’t understand the signs until it was too late….

It started small, as these things usually do, just a small gap on the grocery store shelf. The crunchy peanut butter was missing. No biggy. We weren’t completely out; if we were frugal, we would last another week with what we had at home. A few days of peanut-butterless existence wouldn’t be the end of the world.

The next week, when I returned to the grocery store, still no crunchy peanut butter. I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, “Well, I’ll try the smooth.”

But the third week rolled around, and the full enormity of the disaster finally forced itself on me… like a cavernous hole on the grocery store shelf. No crunchy peanut butter. No smooth peanut butter. I stared at that vacant real estate. How could I go home without peanut butter? There would be bitter recriminations, riots, chaos.

Then the proverbial light bulb turned on. Why not make my own peanut butter? The stuff I usually get has just the one ingredient: organic roasted peanuts. How hard could it be? At $2.99 a pound for bulk organic roasted peanuts, it would be worth trying. I helped myself to a couple of scoops of peanuts, and brought them home.

A couple of days later, we got to the bottom of the jar of the store-bought P.B. I screwed up my courage, pulled out the food processor, tossed in the nuts, and started pulsing. The nuts were quickly pulverized. Once they were mealy crumbs, they stayed that way, but undeterred, I pushed everything down, and kept pushing the ‘Pulse’ button on the food processor. Finally, the peanuts transformed into familiar gooey peanut-buttery goodness. I reached in, took a tentative taste. Still grainy, but not bad, so I ran the processor some more, until the P.B. gathered itself up in a rough ball and rode around on the blades. I tasted again. My D.I.Y. P.B. had a delicate flavor, and a satisfying, slightly grainy, mouthfeel. The store-bought P.B. had a more robust peanut flavor, a darker color, and was smoother, but I thought my P.B. was pretty good for an improvised effort. The DD and DS both liked my D.I.Y. P.B. better that the store-bought, and told me not to bother getting the store-bought anymore. Armageddon averted!

The next day, we had an unexpected (mostly vegetarian) guest who stayed for lunch. I scoured the pantry and fridge to pull together a meal, and put together a salad, a loaf of brown soda bread, and cheese, hummus, and that D.I.Y. P.B., thinking the kids and I could stick to the P.B. and cheese, and our guest would enjoy the hummus, but he dug into that P.B. and kept on digging! He loved it!

O.K. Now I felt encouraged. This week, still no P.B. on the grocery store shelf. I bought another bag of peanuts, and this time, I tried adding peanuts into the work bowl of the food processor in two stages to see if I could make crunchy P.B.

It’s good peanut butter. It’s cheaper than store-bought. And it takes about 5 minutes to make. Sounds like a win-win-win to me!

I’m sharing the recipe, even though I plan to keep playing with it (stay tuned for updates). Many peanut butters have added salt and honey or sugar, not to mention oil, but since my favorite store-brand doesn’t have any added ingredients, there ought to be a way to get the same results at home. Will roasting the peanuts a little more boost the peanut flavor and deepen the color? Even longer processing? My grocery store only stocks one species of peanut, but do different peanut species make better or worse peanut butters? What do you think? Do you prefer P.B. with just peanuts, or with added salt, sweetener, and/or oil?

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