Peanut butter is a simple blend of peanuts and oil.Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
While commercial brands of peanut butter contain ingredients that preserve its texture and extend its shelf life, making your own guarantees that you know exactly what goes into it. Whether it is cheaper to make your own than to buy a store-bought brand depends on the price of the peanuts and the cost of processing them. Learn what it takes to make peanut butter to determine whether your effort is worth the time.
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According to the U.S. Department of Labor's average price index, the cost for a 16-ounce jar of peanut butter averaged $2.73 in July 2013. The average price for a pound of shelled roasted peanuts averaged $2.49 if purchased in bulk. A pound of raw peanuts purchased in bulk can cost $2 or more. With the cost of the oil needed to turn the nuts into butter factored in, as well as the addition of salt, you may conclude that making your own is not more economical than buying a jar at the store.
Technically speaking, the peanut is not a nut but a legume related to beans and peas. It grows beneath the soil in a shell that contains two whole seeds encased in a thin brownish skin. While you can use just about any type of peanut to make butter, most recipes call for raw or unsalted roasted peanuts. Butter made with raw peanuts tends to be bland and relatively tasteless, but you can adjust this by boiling or roasting the nuts before processing them into butter.
You need about 1 pound of shelled peanuts to make 1 pound, or 16 ounces, of peanut butter. A small amount of cooking oil makes the mixture creamy. Roast raw peanuts by spreading about 2 cups of them on a sheet or cookie pan and salting them lightly, if desired. Roast them for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring them a few times until they start smelling nutty. Remove them from the oven and let them cool before using them to make peanut butter.
Blending and Storing
To make peanut butter, place the peanuts in a food processor equipped with the chopping blade in the bottom. Process the peanuts until they start breaking down and forming a loose wet mass, which can take as long as 10 minutes. Add about a tablespoon of peanut, corn, sunflower or safflower oil to the blender and pulse until it reaches the consistency that you like. Adjust the amount of oil as needed, adding it in 1/2-teaspoon increments so the butter doesn't get soupy. Refrigerate homemade peanut butter for as long as two weeks in a covered container.