Sunday, 19 August 2012

Natural Peanut Butter

With a course coming up this week, I'm going to be really tight for time in achieving my blog target.  Luckily, I've been banned from running for at least two weeks to I will just have enough time spare each morning to do the recipe thing.

A pale imitation of the 'real' stuff
My usual breakfast on days when I'm in the office is a protein bar.  One of my colleagues swears by them and after a lot of subtle hints persuaded me to try them.  I must say that whilst breaking my preferred ethos of knowing exactly where my food has come from, I'm actually addicted to a specific brand of chocolate and peanut butter ones and would happily eat them all day, every day.

Most of the bars are ridiculously chewy and you can spend a good half hour masticating and ruminating like a cud-chewing Friesian.  This is probably why they keep you full up to lunchtime and beyond (perfect when your work life is so manic that your boss has to remind you to go get lunch).  But I can work with the Supreme Protein ones.  They've saved me from ending up with a jaw as square as Arnie's*.

Of course, there are downsides to extended satiety.  Firstly the expense.  Secondly the contents.  Dealing with these issues in turn, you can expect to pay between £2 and £3 per bar if you buy them singly.  They're cheaper by the boxful on the internet but I still shell out £13 per 9 bars.  And as the husband eats two a day, this is causing a bigger dent in my finances than his previous red-wine habit.

The ingredients list includes things like Niacinamide, Vitamin A Palmiate, Ferric Orthophosphate and Pyridoxine Hydrocloride.  All of which I'm sure you can't buy from Ocado.  So I decided to look for a recipe to make my own.

The recipe I settled on (see tomorrow's blog) seemed pretty simple.  Whizz up some oatmeal, whey protein, natural peanut butter and a cup of milk.  First problem.  Exactly what is natural peanut butter?  Time to make my own.

Further research revealed it to just be peanuts whizzed in a blender with some oil and optionally salt mixed in at the end.  Or you can buy premade stuff.  Which is good because I already buy Whole Earth PB and this fits into the natural category.  I've always loved PB since I was a child and had a fad where I only ate crunchy peanut butter packed into the groove on celery sticks for months on end (much to my mother's eternal despair as she likes neither of these things).  As an adult, I eschewed the plastic Sunpat of my youth (the equivalent of Skippy for my international readers) in favour of the sugar-free Whole Earth brand.

Perhaps a waste of good peanuts?
I now eat the organic smooth variety as Miss A thinks the crunchy one is dirty (they blend the skins in to it for colour but in the crunchy version, it's mottled with red flecks - hence it being dirty).  But with a blog to write, I thought I'd give homemade a go as I've read several other foodies blogs on the subject.

This was supposed to be the simplest recipe I've made so far with just three ingredients.  Take some peanuts, blend, stir in some oil and salt.  Voila, home made peanut butter.  Research told me that it was better to do this in a blender rather than a food processor.  Those people obviously don't own a cheap old Kenwood Prospero.  Ten minutes of blending and scraping and blending some more and all I had was chopped up peanuts.  Should've gone for the food processor in the first place to save on having to wash both bits.

I then realised that if I wanted crunchy, I should've blended part of it til it was totally smooth and kept some back to make the crunchy bits.  So the texture was a bit choppy - like badly blended hummus.  But the taste was okay.

As for the expense, it cost me £1.44 to buy 250g Waitrose unsalted roasted peanuts plus a tablespoon of sunflower oil and a pinch of sea salt.  Let's call it £1.50 for 250g vs £2.68 for a 340g jar of Whole Earth.  So homemade is 60p/100g and shop bought is 78p/100g.  Makes you think, doesn't it?  But for the enjoyment factor and the ease of not having to wash my blender up, I will probably stick to shop-bought.  If I had the time and the space to store loads of jars and access to humungous bags of peanuts then things might be different.  But when I offered Miss A the choice of the two crackers in the picture, she went for the one on the left.  That made my mind up once and for all!

*As it used to be back in the eighties when he was Mr Universe.  I can probably rival his current more jowly look.

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