I don't know if this is the right forum for this post but...
I've just made the best almond butter and it will also be the cheapest, in the long run.
Over the past two years I have tried at least 10 different brands of raw organic almond and walnut butter (online and at WF) and definitely prefer those that are stone ground -- they are so smooth they're almost liquid and the flavor is divine.
Until a few days ago, I was not able to find one that was stone ground AND sprouted, something that is important to me, so I bought a stone grinder. Yes, it was expensive. But, with almond butter running at $24/pound (sprouted almond butter is $32/pound!) and raw almonds only $10, it will pay for itself fairly quickly. Here's how I did it:
First, I soaked 2 pounds of raw (really raw, unpasturized*
) almonds in RO water to cover with 1 t. himalayan salt for 24 hours. I changed the water twice, rinsing each time, but did not add additional salt.
Then, I drained and rinsed them, spread them on a jelly roll pan, and dehydrated them for 8 hours at 120F and then 8 hours at 140F.
I plugged in my grinder, raised the wheels slightly, and turned it on. I added the almonds one handful at a time making sure they were crushed before adding more. Once all the almonds were in the bin I let it run until there were no more large pieces and then lowered the wheels as far down as they would go.
If the wheels are too low when you're adding the almonds, they will jam.
When I was sure the wheels were turning smoothly I let it run for 6 hours. At this point, the butter looked exactly like the one I had been buying for $24 a pound.
However, the almonds I used were purchased on sale for $7.22/pound, because they were not perfect, so I had just created $50 worth of nectar for $14.50! At this rate, after making 26 1-pound jars I will have broken even. If I have to use almonds at $10/pound I will break even after 30 jars.
Two pounds of almonds made almost 4 cups of butter or 56 tablespoons. I use 2T in my morning smoothie so two pounds should last me about 1 month and I will have broken even in one year.
The downsides to making my own are the following:
- It won't keep as long and may need to be refrigerated. Does anyone know how the ones sold in stores are 'sealed'?
- Making it is a 3-day process. In a pinch, I could make it without sprouting in 6 hours.
- I can make any kind of (sprouted) nut butter I desire.
- I can make my own chocolate! The mill I bought is actually designed for chocolate.
- Shipping almonds/nuts is a lot cheaper than shipping glass jars of butter.
- I can get the nuts at bulk prices whereas the butter is rarely on sale.
: our government has decreed that all almonds grown in the US MUST be pasteurized, either by irradiation, treating them with a toxic chemical (propylene oxide), or with steam-heat (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_4742.cfm
). Pasteurized almonds will not sprout. However, these 'cooked' almonds can still be labeled 'raw'. Buyer beware.
Most of the 'really raw, not irradiated" almonds available in the US are imported from Italy. Italian almonds have a stronger almond flavor.
The only exemption to the US regulation are small-scale growers who can sell truly raw almonds but only directly to the public from farm stands. There are some online stores, which purchase in small quantities, selling these really raw almonds. Google 'really raw' or 'truly raw' to find them.