A few months ago, it was brought to my attention that California has a honeybee shortage, which, among other side effects, is bad news for almond orchards. The decrease in the bee population means less fertilization of almond blossoms, which explains the rise in almond prices and lack of almond butter in grocery stores (namely, Trader Joe’s). Having an almond butter shortage is a little frustrating, especially since Trader Joes has affordable and delicious almond butter, but it has given me the chance to perfect my homemade almond butter. As long as you have a powerful food processor, you can make a jar that is blended and flavored according to your preferences, and costs far less than a $15, miniature jar of raw almond butter (no thanks, MaraNatha).
To start, roast 3 cups of raw almonds in a moderate oven until they perfume the whole kitchen. This happens in only a few minutes, so keep an eye on them to avoid burning your almonds. Let them cool until just warm so that they don’t make the almonds too moist when processed, then pour them into the bowl of a food processor.
Process the almonds for three to four minutes, until a rough paste forms. This will create a huge racket, so be sure to warn family members before starting, or make this in an empty house. Scrape down the bowl to redistribute the almonds, and continue to process for another six to eight minutes, scraping down the bowl every few minutes.
After those six-odd minutes are up, you will have something that looks like almond butter, but do not be fooled. It may look spreadable, but you have to process it for at least three more minutes to make it creamy and irresistible.
The above picture is what you ultimately want; the almond butter is creamy and incredibly rich. I like to pour in a little almond extract and a pinch of salt at this point then pulse it for a few seconds, but I’ve included more flavor variations below if you want a little variety.
Transfer the almond butter to an air-tight container, and store it in the fridge. Almond butter is full of vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and monounsaturated fats, which together aid in skin health, nerve and muscle function, bone strength, and immune system health, which makes it a perfect snack for the health-conscious individual. Spread it on toast, apples, and crackers, use it to top hot oatmeal, or blend it into a fruit smoothie. You’ll be impressed both by how delicious it is, and how simple it was to make.
Homemade Almond Butter
Makes about 1 ½ cups
3 cups (12 oz.) whole, raw almonds
1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
- Spread the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350F. Roast the almonds for 6-8 minutes until fragrant and lightly toasted, then remove from the oven and let cool for about 30 minutes, until just warm to the touch.
- Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor and process for 2-3 minutes, until a fine meal forms. Scrape down the sides and continue to process for 10-12 more minutes until a very smooth and creamy almond butter is produced, stopping to scrape down the bowl every few minutes. When it has reached the proper consistency, add the salt (1/8 teaspoon for a less salty version, ¼ teaspoon for a more pronounced salt flavor) and the almond extract, then process for another 30-60 seconds until well combined. Scrape the almond butter into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
Flavor variations: Stir in these various sweeteners, extracts, and spices into the almond butter after it has been transferred to its storage container. Do not incorporate them using the food processer, as it will negatively impact the texture:
Maple Almond Butter: Add 1 tablespoon maple syrup. (This is my favorite variation.)
Honey Cinnamon Almond Butter: Omit the almond extract, and add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon honey.
Gingerbread Almond Butter: Omit the almond extract, and add 1 tablespoon molasses and 1 teaspoon ground ginger.
Chocolate Almond Butter: Add 1 oz. finely grated dark chocolate.
Vanilla-Cardamom Almond Butter: Omit the almond extract, and add 1 teaspoon vanilla and a scant ½ teaspoon of ground cardamom.