2009-03-12

Raw almond butter

Update: Please also see my other almond butter posts:

Ack. This is going to look like I just can't let go, but the fine folks from Hangry Pants (love that name, BTW) asked about processing raw almonds instead of roasted ones, so I figured it'd be much better to find out for sure if there are really any differences than to spout off some half-cocked nonsense.

Guess what. They're different.

In short, without adding extra oil to the ground almonds, it takes about twice as long for a food processor to turn raw almonds into a creamy paste/butter as it does for roasted almonds. In my specific case, the right consistency was reached at 13 minutes.

Why is this? It's possible that the roasting heat weakens the almonds' cell walls so that oil is released faster, but I'm only speculating and don't really know the answer. That being the case, I won't bore you with another 286,973-word dissertation and just let the pictures do most of the talking here. The total elapsed processing time, in 30-second intervals, is superimposed on the food processor's spindle:

A couple of other notes and observations:

  • You can see my original almond butter recipe, using roasted almonds, here.
  • The almonds did not turn into random shades of brown during processing. As the 00:30 and 01:00 photos show, most of the lighting for this setup came from the side (bottom left in the images) instead of the top. The specific shade in each photo only indicates how thickly the almond particles coated the sides of the workbowl (thus blocking the light) and does not reflect color changes in the ground almonds themselves.
  • Overall, though, roasted almonds do make for a darker finished product than raw almonds, which should be expected. This is a color sampling from my two batches:
    raw vs. roasted almond butter color comparison
  • Unlike making almond butter with roasted almonds, I had to scrape down the sides of the workbowl this time. To preserve the grinding and clumping characteristics, this was only done after each photo was taken.
  • A side benefit of the extended processing time is that it really isn't crucial to stop the machine at some exact specified moment. Although I said the right consistency was reached at 13 minutes, the changes in texture from about 11 minutes onward were really pretty minor.
  • I have no idea if the specific equipment matters or not, but I used a full-sized KitchenAid food processor to make both this and the roasted almond butter.
  • I split this batch and froze part of it. The result after thawing? Skin, stir, and a side-by-side tasting: no difference. So, homemade almond butter can be frozen with no problems.
  • Update 2009-09-11: Based on a question in the comments below—homemade almond butter should be refrigerated, and you should keep it there for no more than four months. This is to prevent (or delay) the oil from going rancid. If you need longer storage, freeze it.

A NOTE FOR RAW FOODISTS

The almonds started at room temperature and became warm as a result of the long processing time. I did not take any measurements, but the temperature increase may be a concern for strict raw foodists. I don't know what effects starting with frozen almonds would have.

Update 2009-09-06: By law, since September 2007 all almonds grown and sold in the United States must be pasteurized, either through fumigation or heat treatment (PDF). This means that domestically-grown almonds are no longer acceptable for people on a strict raw-foods diet, even though marketers can still label these almonds as "raw" for sale to consumers. This law does not apply to foreign-grown almonds imported into the US, however, so if you're on a raw regimen, it would be advisable to assume that regular supermarket almonds are not raw (no matter what the label says) and buy truly raw almonds only from a specialist supplier.

42 comments:

  1. I love seeing the photo process!

    In response to your comment on my blog, I'm not sure why there's usually oil in granola recipes. Maybe to add crunch? Thanks for the link to Mark Bittman's recipe! I'll have to try it out.

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  2. Hello there! So this is what the food geek was going on about! Impressive--I love nut butters. And the meat cake was glorious (I guess not yours, but you introduced me to it, so thanks) :D I will be back, I'm sure.

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  3. Silly question ... but what do you actually use almond butter (roasted or unroasted) for? Can it be used in a similar way to peanut butter? In baking?

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  4. I spread almond butter on bread just like peanut butter. I've heard of people using it to make cookies but haven't tried it myself. It doesn't quite work for Asian peanut sauce, though, because of the flavor difference.

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  5. This is great. Thank you so much. We have a peanut allergy problem and I use almond butter quite frequently for ABJ sandwiches, but it is so expensive that I have been looking around for how to make my own and with raw almonds. Seems easy enough!
    I have made a few baked goods with store bought almond butter. The consistency of the baked goods is different than with peanut butter. They tend to not hold together as well and seem drier. I'm not sure what I would do to fix that.
    Thanks for the instruction and detail!

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  6. < I just found this blog and I am impressed!> < Thanks for caring enough to take pictures and be SO detailed with your steps>

    < I have some simple questions, if you could help me. Could honey be added to the almonds for a touch of sweetness?> < If so, at what point in the process?> < Is it better to roast the almonds drizzled with the honey?>

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  7. Yes, you can add honey (or any other flavorings, really) to the almond butter. I need to get some almonds to try this myself, but my guess is that it would be a good idea to add it after the almonds have started getting creamy (about 09:30 in the above photos). This is so that you don't have to deal with bits of honey-coated almond granules getting flung all inside the food processor bowl, yet still leaves enough time for the two ingredients to mix thoroughly. This should work for both raw and roasted almonds. If you roast the almonds in honey first, then the dried coating may not mix as well into the butter as liquid honey, but this is (again) a guess on my part.

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  8. How long can I expect Almond butter to last in the refrigerator?

    Rosemary

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  9. Rosemary, the information from Timing is Everything (Jack Piccolo, Three Rivers Press, 2000) and Keeping Food Fresh (Janet Bailey, The Dial Press, 1985) would indicate that you can keep almond butter for up to four months in the refrigerator. While neither of these books specifically address almond butter, their recommendations for fresh nuts, nut oils, and peanut butter are all pretty consistent. If you need to store it for longer than that, you can freeze it with no problems. Personally, this has never been an issue for me because the stuff gets eaten way before that, though.

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  10. Thanks, could or anyone recommend somewhere online where the almonds could be bought for less than $7.59 a lb.?

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    1. Rosemary, I know that Winco carries the bulk raw almonds for about half that price. If you don't have Winco, then any grocery store that is not focused on natural foods should have them for less. Find a store where you can buy them in bulk. I would also look into the Seventh Day Adventist store if you have one near you. They are not as pricey as Whole foods, but they sell all natural and organic foods. NO MEATS obviously. You don't have to be in their church to shop there either.

      Namaste sj

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  11. I don't know if you've already checked with your local stores or not, but you may be surprised by their prices. A supermarket near me sells bulk raw almonds for $4.49/lb, whereas Whole Foods has it for (I think) $7.99 or so. I have no experience with ordering almonds online, but you can go to Google Products, type in "raw almonds", and see what comes up.

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  12. Thanks, I'll do just that.

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  13. I use almond butter to make "candy". I blend it with shredded unsweetened coconut, honey, dark chocolate bits, cocoa powder, sesame seeds and vanilla. Lots of variations on this basic recipe are possible. I've used different ingredients at different times. This is my current favorite, and I am particularly enjoying both the flavor and health benefits of good quality coconut. It can be rolled into balls (roll it in the sesame seeds) and chilled, or just eaten by the spoon. This is a healthy and satisfying substitute for a candy bar for instance, and you can easily adjust the mix for varying degrees of sweetness, chocolate, etc. I also use xylitol rather than honey oftentimes for my sweetener. The coconut is naturally sweet, so I don't need much in either case.
    You can purchase truly raw almonds online through Green Smoothie Girl at the moment if you can get together an order for 100 pounds. These have not been pasteurized or fumigated, but you have to purchase this large quantity to get them raw like this. The price is $3.00 a pound.

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  14. I wanted to start eating almond butter for its magnesium content. I bought some and assumed it had a fair amont of Mg because almonds are known for it. MUCH TO MY SURPRISE when reading the label Mg is not even on there. Well, I did some research and it seems it is because the almonds are dry roasted destroying this nutrional value concerning magnesium. This will be remedied one day because Mg deficiency awareness is on the rise.

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  15. Whoa, slow down. It's not clear to me how cooking can reduce the magnesium content in food except as it leaches out through contact with water. Dry-roasted almonds, then, should contain similar amounts of usable magnesium as raw ones—it certainly won't be destroyed by the roasting process.

    I would wager that you won't see magnesium listed on the nutrition labels affixed to most commercially-made almond butter, whether they're raw or roasted. This isn't because magnesium is lacking in these products, but because US federal regulations (21 CFR 101.9 paragraph (c)(8)(ii)) require only two vitamins and two minerals (besides sodium) to be declared on the nutrition label: vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. If the almond butter is made without additives or supplements, then no other minerals need to be declared—so it's unlikely that manufacturers will add Mg or other nutrients to their labels.

    But anyway, I would recommend making almond butter at home. It's simple, and much less expensive than store-bought.

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  16. I have searched high and low for a straight forward recipe to make almond butter (I prefer raw) that does not involve adding oil and here it is! THANK YOU! I just made my first batch and it is absolutely delicious. YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL SITE!

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  17. sooooo goooood. i just made this after seeing your recipe and photos. thank goodness you mentioned that it takes around 13 minutes to get the right consistency.

    i added a bit of flax seed oil near the end to speed up the process and i was richly rewarded with the most amazing almond butter i have ever tasted.

    thanks so much!

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  18. Hey, I just wanted to say that I use raw almond butter for many things, mostly for shakes. in a blender I mix 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons nut butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, a pinch of sea salt and 2 tablespoons of agave or 1 packet of steveia to make nut milk, than use it in place of milk in whatever i want. or you can just drink it that way. it works great in banana shakes or with pineapple and blueberries... try it lol

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  19. I love making almond butter... It's so much cheaper compared to buying almond butter at the store. Best of all, I can make it with lower sodium, and add raisins, ground flax seed, spices, or even experiment with crazy things like hot sauce o_O

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  20. i love seeing the photo sequence...i want to make my own now!! thank you

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  21. This is great! Can I ask what brand/type of food processor you used to make this? I am about to purchase a food processor for the sole purpose of making raw almond butter, so I need to make sure it can hack it! Thanks!

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  22. Hi John. I'm not at home right now and so can't get the exact model number, but my food processor is the KitchenAid 11-cup model (Ultra Power, I think). It's the previous-generation version of their current 12-cup processors. I would think that a full-sized (11-cup or larger capacity) model from either KitchenAid or Cuisinart should work equally well. I did find out some time later that size really matters, as I tried to process a larger batch (4 cups) and the almonds never turned creamy. Hope this helps.

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    Replies
    1. We experienced the same issue. Processing smaller batches at a time works best.

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  23. This is a great post. The only comment I wanted to add is that if you have a thyroid disorder, you should always eat roasted almonds. Raw almonds can further inhibit the function of your thyroid.

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    1. This is so NOT true. Perhaps an allopathic doctor told you that but nothing could be further from the truth.

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  24. Has anyone used raw soaked/sprouted almonds? Now that domestic raw almonds are pasteurized, the measure i use to qualify them as still raw is if they will sprout. So far, so good. I soak for about 24 hours just to release the digestive enzymes. I get barely a sprout and it makes the raw almond more digestible.

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    1. Soaked almonds are great, but for some reason it really slows down the processing time to make almond butter. The time it takes to get almond butter from soaked almonds increases to over 30 minutes. Un-soaked, it takes about 12-15 minutes.

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  25. After 30 minutes, I hadn’t even reached the balling up stage: http://i56.tinypic.com/2e22ckx.png

    My processor is a Kenwood FP730 – a powerful and competent processor…. I used it on setting 1 mainly but cranked it to about 4 or 5 for a few minutes here and there, didn’t seem to make any difference – just hurt my ears.

    So sad.

    Any ideas?

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  26. Hello anon., sorry for the late reply. I looked up the FP730's manual and noticed that it's a combination food processor and blender with a variable speed motor. The dedicated food processors sold in the US have no speed control (it's off, on, or pulse only). KitchenAid, my brand, runs at 1750 RPMs. I don't know how this translates to the dial settings on your machine, but I suspect you'll need to turn up the speed and leave it there.

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  27. I soaked the almonds and dried them in my toaster oven, low heat with door open, I added coconut & coconut oil, and it got soft but not creamy.. still tastes good... but, I'd like it creamer... any suggestions?

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  28. Hmm...this is going to be hard for me to answer (hence the delay in reply, sorry), but I can't figure out what you're trying to do. Coconut oil can help to make the almond butter creamier, although I don't think it's necessary. As far as I can figure, the only function coconut provides is for flavor; I don't think it enhances the creaminess and may actually make it worse. It's also not clear to me why you soaked the almonds first, but if you peeled their skins off (basic procedure: soak in boiling water for 1 minute, drain, rinse with cold water, then peel -- or just buy blanched almonds), then the lack of skin should make the butter creamier.

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  29. this never did get creamy using a cuisinart. i will try again with a smaller quantity based on the notes seems to make a difference...anyone?

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  30. I was so excited to try this... but alas, my almonds remained dry for so long I finally gave in and added oil and then some water, and then more oil. But, it never really got very creamy even though it did break down into a gooey blob. So, I let my food processor just run for a long time to see if the almonds would eventually resemble your picture. But it got worse! My food processor stopped working and when I felt it it was really hot. It may have burnt itself out. I don't know. :( Still, the "almond butter" is really really thick and lumpy. What do you think went wrong? Is it possible my almonds were missing the natural oils? I have a small kitchen aid food processor that looks just like yours in your pictures.

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    1. You need to scrape down the sides as you process the almonds. Check out this video.

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  31. Size matters. If your food processor really is small, then you'll need to make the almond butter in smaller batches. Mine has an 11-cup capacity, and I've found that it doesn't work well if I start with much more than 2 cups of almonds. Adding oil does help, but water probably wouldn't (since oil and water don't mix). You may also want to try using roasted almonds, as it takes about half the time to make butter with it than with raw almonds. My write-up on that is here.

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  32. does anybody have success using this no oil version with the vitamix 5200/

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  33. I have a great recipe from (I think) Clean Eating magazine:
    1 cup almond butter
    3/4 cup Sucanat (I used sugar)
    1 egg
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    Combine those ingredients well, then mix in chunks of dark chocolate, and bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes. Yum! Also, check the "cheap cart"at your grocery store. Now is about the time they start selling all those bags of nuts that no one buys at Christmas, lol. My store self them for $1 per bag. One bag seems to give enough almonds for one jar of almond butter. Not a bad deal!!

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  34. The egg seems bizarre and superfluous . . . not sure why one would add baking powder and an egg to almond butter. Doesn't it all just get yucky and melty and strange? Plus, the egg would pretty much remove it from any notion of "clean" eating :-)

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  35. thanks for recipe! have a great 2012! :)

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  36. Has anyone tried sprouted almonds to make almond butter?

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  37. can o use it for a cake cream?

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