Tuesday, March 1, 2011

PB & J From Scratch

PB & J is not something most people would consider making from scratch, but after having to deal with the contaminated peanut butter issue over the past few years (I use to like Peter Pan peanut butter and ended up regretting that decision) and a slow economy, I have started making my own nut butters. I use to make jam all the time when the kids were littler, but I fell away from that practice until recently because of cost. There are some great jams out there that are corn free, but I saw some strawberries at a ridiculously low price and just had the urge to make a batch.

I do buy my nuts in the bulk section. Usually I stay away from the bulk isle because of cross contamination, but if I can wash it, I'll buy it bulk. I will wash my nuts really well in hot water until the washing water is almost clear before I bake them. This way I avoid cross contamination as much as possible and my husband is convinced this is why my roasted nuts taste better.

The bread I used is my rice bread recipe. One thing I like about it is that the jam doesn't cause it to become soggy when the kids take it to school. So here are my recipes on homemade peanut butter and strawberry jam. Enjoy.

Homemade Peanut Butter:

1-1 pound bag of peanuts
1 tsp of salt or to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons of oil (I used sunflower)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse off the peanuts well in hot water, making sure to remove all the brown skin before baking. Pour them into a pan sprayed with cooking spray or oil and spread them out evenly. Salt and mix well to evenly distribute the salt.

Place in your preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and stir. Put back in the over for another 20 minutes. Continue this process until done. The peanuts should be a golden color. At this stage the natural oils are released, making it easier to blend into butter.

Pour the still hot peanuts into a food processor and blend until achieving the desired texture. Add the oil to help blend the peanuts down into butter. The more oil you add, the smoother the peanut butter, but be careful not to add too much as it will result in runny butter. This step may take up to 10 minutes, so be patient. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Feel free to use other nuts or seeds (sunflower) in this recipe as the process is the same for all nut butters.

Strawberry Jam:

2 cups of very ripe strawberries, crushed or puréed in a blender
1/2 cup brown sugar or brown rice syrup

Pour the sugar over the berries before blending and setting this aside for half a hour. This causes the berries to release their liquid.

Pour ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat. Continually stir until the mixture bubbles. After about 10 minutes, the mixture should become thick enough that when you wipe a line down the back of a spoon with your finger (be careful, this is hot) the jam should hold it's shape. Pour into glass jars or prepared container (this may be too hot for plastic) and cover. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

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