Are there members of your family that must be peanut-free? Many people and families are peanut-free due to allergies, health concerns, or even because the kids have a peanut-free or nut-free school. For many, this means no peanut butter cookies, no PB&J, no peanut butter and apples. I don’t know about you, but those types of foods were an integral part of my childhood, and I’m a bit of a peanut butter fiend. I’d hate to deprive anyone else of that salty-sweet, creamy, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth goodness.
So what’s a peanut-free person to do? There are soynut butters out there, but many people also avoid soy. You can buy commercial sunflower seed butter, and I have done so before (it’s pretty darn delicious), but it does contain sugar. Also, it’s not always easily found if your grocery options are somewhat limited, unless you order online. So why not make it yourself?
I promise, it’s easy!
In fact, I find making all sorts of seed and nut butters pretty easy, and I make a lot of different ones myself. The food processor does all the hard work, and besides, I can then control the sweetness and salt levels – a great thing, in my opinion. It’s also generally less expensive than buying a jar of the already-made stuff.
The same is true of this sunflower seed butter. The organic, raw sunflower seeds I used for my sunbutter cost me less than $3/lb. A jar at the store, which is usually around a pound, typically costs around $6. Once you start making this yourself, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s worth a few little steps. Besides, you’ll be on your way to sunflower seed butter cookies, using sunflower seed butter in a yummy peanut-free dip for satay, or even in a peanut-free “PB&J” vegan ice cream. Or just on a spoon, straight from the jar. Your choice. I won’t judge.
First, you start with 3 cups of raw sunflower seeds (don’t buy the already roasted ones, as a lot of the moisture is already gone from them and your “butter” will be mealy or grainy – trust me, I’ve made that mistake). Toss them into a skillet (I prefer my cast-iron skillet, but any skillet will do) and toast over medium heat, moving them around often so they don’t burn. You’ll do this for 5-10 minutes, or until the sunflower seeds show some toasting. Don’t over-toast – if they look similar to this, you’re good. (Over-toasting will also cause that mealy texture in your final product)
Then throw your sunflower seeds, plus about 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon of salt, into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
(See all those scratches on my food processor? That’s a sign of true love – love between a girl and her food processor. We’ve been through a lot together.)
Put the lid on your food processor and turn it on. At this point, you will be processing until it becomes sunflower seed butter. Of course, saying that sounds easy, but truth is, many people worry that they’ve done something wrong at some point in this process, because it just seems to take SO long. You’ll be processing for almost 10 minutes.
In case you want to peek at it throughout the process to be sure it’s all going well, in the first minute or so, your sunflower seeds will turn into a fine meal.
A few more minutes will pass, and you’ll see the “meal” climb up the sides of the processor. Eventually, the oils will release from the seeds, and your “meal” will start to clump to one side of the processor.
Keep going. Just leave that clump there. Eventually, enough oils will release that it will spread itself back out. Don’t add any oil at this point, or it will never become smooth.
Soon, you’ll hear the food processor become quieter, and everything will spread out and start to look like a real sunflower seed butter. Like this.
Now, if you desire, you can add sweetener and oils. I personally only add about a tablespoon of oil (usually olive or coconut – olive makes it more spreadable at cooler temperatures, as coconut oil is solid at room temperature, but I love the flavor of coconut oil), but it’s up to you how spreadable you want your butter. You can also add a tablespoon or two of sugar, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, or whatever sweetener you choose. Or you can choose to omit sweeteners entirely. Up to you.
Then continue to process for another minute or so, until everything is completely smooth. Then scrape your sunflower seed butter into your desired container (I prefer glass jars – I have a ton of them) and store in the refrigerator.
That’s it! See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Hooray for a quick, inexpensive, healthy alternative to peanut butter!
Sunflower Seed Butter (gluten-free, vegan)
3 c raw sunflower seeds
1/2-3/4 t kosher salt
1 T oil of choice (olive oil or coconut oil are my favorites)
1-2 T sweetener of choice (sugar, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup are all good here)
Toast the sunflower seeds in a large skillet over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted. Place sunflower seeds and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process into a smooth, spreadable butter – this takes about 10 minutes. Add oil and sweeteners as desired and process again until smooth.
Makes about 2 cups.
This post is linked to 5-Ingredient Mondays over at The Daily Dietribe.