If you are lucky enough to live in a region of the country (or world) that produces tree and ground nuts, you have cause to celebrate! Nuts are high in protein, fiber and nutrients and while some may pack a wallop of fat, that fat is typically good for you and your body (as long as you are not allergic!). Some nuts, like pine nuts, pecans and walnuts can go rancid quickly when stored, especially in warmer climates. So how do you make the most of your local nut harvest and save your harvest for the future? Here are some great ways to make the most of locally and/or sustainably produced nuts.
Did you know you can freeze nuts for about a year? Put shelled nuts into freezer bags, label them with the date and tuck them into your freezer for later! No need to blanch them or do anything special–just pop them into bags! I do this with our local pecans all the time. Freezing them prevents that “off” taste when they’ve been sitting too long, and the ease of freezing them encourages me to stock up with new crop pecans when they are available at my farmer’s market.
Make Nut Butter
If you are fortunate to end up with, say, 10 pounds of local almonds (I WISH!), one way to keep them at the ready is to make your own nut butter. When I was a child, peanut butter was the only nut butter around, but now you can easily find cashew butter, almond butter, sunflower butter and more. Some are even flavored. Did you know it takes about 30 minutes to make your own healthy nut butter at home?
Here is how to do it:
Put 1-2 cups of nuts (I use raw nuts, but roasted will work, too) in a food processor. Process at high speed, giving your food processor a break every minute or two, for anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes or until the nuts release their oils and you have something that is spreadable. This will vary widely depending on the type of nut and how much oil it has in it. you will end up with something amazing. And healthy. And delicious. Add some nut oil to hazelnuts (they can be a bit dry) and salt, if you like. Sometimes I add a bit of coconut oil to nut butters that end up on the dry side. Nut butters are very forgiving–if you add too much of a flavoring, just add more nuts. Need more flavoring? Add more and blend again. Easy!
I don’t refrigerate my nut butters–they are gone quickly, and I find refrigerating them makes them difficult to spread. However, you can refrigerate or freeze most nut butters. You will probably eat them up long before they go bad, but refrigerated nut butters will keep for several months. Frozen nut butters for at least a year. The oil may separate during thawing, but just mix it all up and you’re good to go!
Need some inspiration? Here are some ideas I’ve seen (and several I have tried):
- Choco-peanut butter (peanuts + raw cacao + touch of honey + pinch of salt)
- Cinnamon Almond Butter (almonds + cinnamon)
- Almond Joy (almonds + non-sulfured coconut + raw cacao)
- Heathier Nutella (hazelnuts + touch of hazelnut oil + raw cacao + touch of maple syrup)
- Maple Almond Butter (almonds + touch of maple syrup + bit of vanilla)
- Smoked pecan butter [my creation] (pecans + smoked paprika + touch of salt)
So go out there and harvest those nuts! Then squirrel them away for the future 🙂
For more great nut butters and yummy ideas for using them, see www.mywholefoodlife.com. Another blogger with some awesome, healthy recipes!