Saturday, January 17, 2009

Makin' Butter and Such

Yesterday, I made two things from scratch that we would normally buy from the store, so I was feeling pretty independent.

Peanut butter, and buttery spread; two easy-to-make things at home. Also cheaper to make at home, too.

First, I made peanut butter. I had never done it before, but I had wanted to for a long time, so I was quite excited. In my opinion, peanut butter ranks right up there with chocolate, and though I love the taste, I feel just about as guilty eating peanut butter as I do when eating chocolate. All those hydrogenated oils! I'm always thinking to myself "if it weren't for the oils, I wouldn't feel bad about eating peanut butter!"

So, making peanut butter out of pure peanuts excited me. ...Well, I guess if you count the peanut oil and salt that was on the peanuts, it wasn't pure peanuts. But it made the butter taste better.

Also, with all the media full of news about peanut butter making folks sick, it sure makes me feel better to know that what we're eating didn't come from a factory, but instead our own kitchen!

A friend told us that all it takes to make peanut butter is a food processor, so I stuck the peanuts in the processor with the largest blade, and turned the machine on.

What a noise! I thought the peanuts would crack the plastic container they were flying around in, but they didn't. Gradually, they broke up into fine sawdust-like pieces.

But sawdust isn't butter. I put the lid back and turned the machine on again. After a few more minutes of processing, a sudden change took place. All of the sudden the natural oil the peanuts contained burst loose, and we had peanut butter! Yeah! It was a little lumpy, so I continued processing it, and it turned into lovely spread. ...Afterward, I wished I had left it a little thicker, 'cause I like chunky peanut butter, but others in the family like smooth, so oh well.

I put the peanut butter in a container, and because I wasn't sure if it could be stored in the cupboard like the store-bought stuff, I put it in the fridge.

On to the next project; buttery spread! I had made this several times before. It's so easy. It's NOT margarine, (did I mention I hate hydrogenated oils?), but it's cheaper than pure butter, and it much easier to spread. (Don't you hate having that slice of bread crumble in your hands as you try to spread solid butter on it?)

The ratio is simple: take whatever amount of butter you have, and divide it in half. Then use that measurement to tell you how much oil and water to use. For example, if you have 1 cup of butter, you would add 1/2 cup oil, (non hydrogenated!) and 1/2 cup water.

That's it. Whip the butter until soft, add the oil and water, and beat them in. (Watch out - it's messy!). Once they are incorporated, you have a product that is the consistency of margarine, tastes like regular butter, and makes your butter go twice as far! Lovely!


Ruth Ann said...

YAY! I love to be industrious. I personally don't like making peanut butter, cause of the mess...but we have done it and it is good. We buy the big cans of peanuts from Sam's Club (warehouse store). And, we've never refrigerated it. It has always been kept in the cabinet here - and we're in *hot* Florida. It's fine even in the summer. Just thought you might like to know.

Also, we use that butter spread all the time! It is SO nice. I was buying butter the other day at Sam's Club, the kind that isn't cut into quarters, and somebody asked me about it/what I did with it. So I told her how we mix it up. It's SO easy, and like you said - it's a nice soft spread that goes on easily. We mix up 2 lbs. of butter at a time with 2 cups oil and 2 cups milk (sometimes we'll use dry milk). I don't think I've tried water...I've heard of it before, but I wonder what it *does* to it, like how different it would be since we've always used milk. But, that is a lot of fun! We've found the longer you whip it the lighter and fluffier it gets - how fun!

Haha...this is a long comment - but I enjoyed hearing about your experimentations and such. It's fun to try new things and learn to do things on your own.

Jennifer said...

I love the idea of making your own butter spread-I haven't heard this one before. We don't eat tons of PB but a small batch would be perfect. PLUS I can reuse my old pb jars for both spreads! Thanks for the awesome idea!

Amber said...

Jenifer, you're very welcome for the idea! I hope you get a chance to try it!

~ Thanks for the encouragement, Ruth Ann! And the tip about refrigeration. I had so much fun yesterday, and I can't wait to eat some of the peanut butter (aside from the sample licks I took.) :)

A funny thing about that spread; most of my siblings don't care about eating margarine, but I don't like eating those oils, so I've been making up small batches of the spread for personal use, or to share with Mom. The past couple weeks, however, my siblings started sampling "my" butter, and when it started disappearing faster than the margarine, I decided to make a family-size batch! :)

Now I've written a "long" comment too. :)

Jenny P. said...

On the buttery spread -- if you have a special brunch one day, add honey to the butter when you add the oil and water. It makes a wonderful flavor!

I've also mixed butter with herbs and garlic for Italian dinners. It's so yummy.

Amber said...

Jenny P. ~ I've thought about doing that. Glad to know it works! Thanks.