At the clove of the seasons between summer and fall, an unfelt change seems to descend upon our cultural palates. Without thinking, our adoration for the sweet flavors of strawberries, peaches, and blueberries is replaced for a renewed obsession with the heartier harvests of pumpkins, squash, and apples. However, in these seasons of change, there remains one constant that I can always rely on to provide a solid sandwich companion to seasonal preserves. Whether paired with classic grape jelly, summery peach jam, or autumnal apple butter, peanut butter consistently provides a powerful, and delicious, blend of nutty protein and healthy unsaturated fats. And, while peanut butter, when properly preserved, can be found all year long, the seasonal eater will recognize this nutty spread as a true autumn recipe, with October marking the month for the peanut harvest. So, as farmers around the world excavate their fields for this tasty legume, let’s roll up our sleeves and dig in, too!
Digging up Peanuts
While many sources will attribute the invention of peanut butter to the Kellogg company’s patent of “Nut Meal” in the 1800’s, peanut butter’s true origins reach all the way back to their roots in South America. From as early as 3,500 years ago, peanuts have shown up in Incan archeological finds, including references to peanuts being used in the burial of mummified Incan remains. It would seem that the Incas created their own “nut meal” in the form of a ground paste of their local peanut plants. From these “ancient” roots, peanuts and peanut butter spread north through North America, Europe, and Asia, leading to a worldwide peanut crop.
Now, it is true, that the 1800’s did prove to be the inception of the peanut’s popularity in the modernizing Western world. While peanuts were grown before the 1800’s in the United States (particularly in Virginia), they were difficult to harvest, and were used primarily for animal feed, if at all. As agriculture began to industrialize, however, farmers began investing in the machinery necessary to plant and harvest peanuts on a commercial scale. Fast forward to our modern era, where over 29 million tons of peanuts are grown and harvested each year!
Blending our Own Peanut Butter
For today’s special excavation, we’re going to return to the peanut’s Incan roots for the source of our peanut butter recipe. In modern food production, any product labeled “peanut butter,” by law, is only required to contain 90% peanuts. So today, I’ll be showing you how to make your own peanut butter that bumps that number back up to 100!
Nothing But Peanuts Peanut Butter Recipe
- Roasted peanuts removed from shells
- (Optional) Peanut oil
- Place peanuts into a blender or food processor, and pulse for 30 second intervals. After each interval, check on the consistency of your peanut butter. I usually stop blending after 2 minutes, but choose the time that works best for you!
- (Optional) If your peanuts are finely ground but not taking on the traditional consistency of peanut butter, add in peanut oil 1 teaspoon at a time while still pulsing for 30 second increments. I’ve found that after 1-2 teaspoons of oil, even the driest of peanuts will make fantastic peanut butter!
- Scoop peanut butter into an airtight jar or container, and store in the refrigerator for the next time you need a nutty treat! If kept cool, your peanut butter will stay fresh for up to 6 months.
As always, thanks for stopping by the dig! Join us again on Tuesday as we unearth a delicious way to use our freshly blended peanut butter in a breakfast chock full of energy!