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Preserving Fresh Nuts

Homemade Nut Butter

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If you love nuts, now is the time to stock up. Freshly harvested almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts are in markets and ready to eat, raw or toasted. But then what? Stored in a kitchen cabinet, nuts can go rancid in a matter of weeks. Refrigerated in bulky bags, they can get in the way, while frozen nuts are easily forgotten. Our favorite preservation method is to turn fresh nuts into a rich, spreadable butter—one that not only makes storing easy but also transforms an everyday snack into a decadent treat.

Making nut butter is simple: Using a food processor or blender, simply grind nuts (toasted or raw) until a paste forms, adding oil as needed to aid the grinding and smooth the consistency. Some nuts, like almonds, have a higher fat content and will turn out a creamier butter. Others, like hazelnuts, produce coarser, drier results. The flavor profile of various nut butters can be equally variable: While almonds produce a sweetish butter, pecans yield a more robust flavor with a slightly bitter, tannic finish. You can adjust the flavor notes even more by adding honey, salt, maple syrup, cinnamon, or vanilla.

Smear nut butter on toast, crackers, apple slices, or bread for sandwiches. Or substitute it for peanut butter in some of your favorite recipes. (See the sidebar for other ideas.) But beware: It’s addictive. Although it’ll last for months in the refrigerator, you’re apt to finish yours before the season’s end.

Almond Nut Butter
Homemade Nut Butter

Nut Butters Gone Wild
Nut butter is delicious any time of day, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert. Here, a few tasty ways to use yours up.

• Spread pecan butter between two shortbread cookies.

• Toss lo mein noodles with almond butter, soy sauce, sautéed snow peas, carrots, and scallions.

• Dollop cooked green beans with hazelnut butter.

• Swirl any nut butter into vanilla ice cream.

• Blend hazelnut or almond butter into smoothies.

• Top a bowl of oatmeal with a spoonful of any nut butter.

• Make banana and nut butter sandwiches.

Photos: Scott Phillips


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