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If I told you today’s almond butter recipe was the best almond butter I’ve ever eaten in my life, half of you would be skeptical, and the other half probably wouldn’t care.
Actually, I’m projecting. I only know that if I were you, I would be skeptical, or I wouldn’t care. I tend toward the cynical.
But in all my analyzing, I’ve found that we who tend towards disbelief are actually the once highly hopeful. It’s just that at some point, we put those high hopes into something (politics, people, friends, projects, ideas), and that something let us down.
Rather than being let down again, we disbelieve. We say, “prove it.” We try to control what can hurt us by being highly choosy about what we let in.
I get it. I do it too.
But the only problem with walling all new things off is that you might miss some legitimately good new things. When you lock up your heart against hurt, you lock it up against love, too. Like C.S. Lewis said, you lose out on hope!
Bringing things back around to this almond butter, the thing is that I actually made it with my own hands and tasted it with my own taste buds, and I would swear to you it was the best almond butter I’ve ever had, even though I know that’s not quite proof (and I’ve eaten a lot of different almond butters).
Whether you choose to believe me or not, I say this almond butter has two key things going for it:
It’s soaked, for easier digestion, and it’s powerfully flavorful, coming at you with its salty, sweet taste in a way that makes you want to eat it all on its own, standing at the counter with a big spoon. (And I have.)
The method for creating this soaked vanilla maple almond butter comes from the book “Back to Butter: A Traditional Foods Cookbook – Nourishing Recipes Inspired by Our Ancestors,” written by the duo behind Organic Spark, a traditional foods blog. It’s available on Amazon.
Maybe you’ve heard a lot about traditional foods from other sources already. In a more subtle, less didactic way, these are also the kinds of foods you hear me often talking about here.
At their most basic, traditional foods are exactly what they sound like – foods that have stood the test of time, not just from my grandma to me, but from ten or maybe even twenty generations ago. They’re historical foods, foods that are naturally rich in nutrients and prepared in ways that can help your body to digest them.
While some of the other resources about traditional foods are lengthy and complicated to read, “Back to Butter” is laid out in a pretty basic, user-friendly, easy-to-understand way, with two main sections, the traditional foods pantry, and traditional foods recipes.
I like this because it feels so approachable, no matter what your level of familiarity with traditional foods might be.
If you want a fuller understanding of why unrefined fats like coconut oil are so amazing, for example, this book will help. And if you want detailed instructions for making homemade yogurt or soaking grains, this book provides the formulas you’ll need.
As an example, this recipe features the method for soaking nuts that’s recommended in this book. I used raw almonds.
There’s nothing difficult about the process but, like a lot of traditional foods recipes, it does take time – 24 hours to soak, followed by 24 hours to dehydrate.
An impatient person like me (yes, I’m both impatient and cynical!) finds it best to spend the five minutes required for prepping the nuts at each necessary point in the process, and then banish them from my mind for the passive portion, so as to avoid driving myself nuts (ha! get it?).
After the prep is finished, you can eat the nuts as they are, or puree them in a food processor like I did in this recipe, my favorite almond butter to date. Flavored with whole vanilla beans and a kiss of maple syrup, it is salty, savory, sweet, and addictive.
It’s great on its own as a spread, but you can also use the butter in recipes, like Foodal’s almond butter honey cake.
P.S. Are you wondering why you need to soak the nuts in the first place? I hear ya!
To reiterate the point about traditional foods, one thing we consistently see in ancient cultures is that they knew to soak their nuts and grains before consuming them, to reap all of the available health benefits.
Soaking breaks down elements in these foods that not only make them harder to digest, but also inhibit the body’s ability to process the nutrients they contain.
Just as you may have heard me say before that many people who have a hard time digesting store-bought bread and/or gluten may do okay with sourdough and/or soaked ancient grains like einkorn, so too do many people who struggle with feeling weird when they eat nuts do better when they soak them first.
As stated in the book, our ancestors might not have realized why this practice was so helpful, but natural instinct about how they would feel as a result led them to make it a habit.
Adapted from Back to Butter by Molly Chester and Sandy Schrecengost.
- 2 cups raw almonds
- 1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
- In a large glass bowl, combine nuts, apple cider vinegar, salt, and enough filtered water to cover the nuts by 2 inches (5 centimeters). Stir to dissolve the salt. Cover the bowl with a lid or a plate, and set it in a warm place (i.e., 75°F/24°C) for a full 24 hours.
- Turn on your oven or food dehydrator to 150°F/66°C, or use your oven’s lowest setting (in my case, this is 175°F). Rinse the soaked nuts in a colander, discard the soaking water, and spread the nuts in a single layer on two baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, to taste (and feel free to taste!).
- Dry the almonds in your oven or dehydrator for at least 15 or up to 36 hours. Back to Butter recommends 24 to 36 hours for almonds at 150°F temperature. The nuts are done when they are no longer moist at all, and crunch nicely upon biting. Test several to check for uniform doneness.
- Store the nuts in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator, or use them in the vanilla maple almond butter described below.
Beyond the digestive benefits of this almond butter, it’s also delicious, as in, the most delicious almond butter I’ve ever had! Nutty and salty but also sweet, kissed by vanilla and maple syrup, it’s as good on sticks of raw celery as it is eaten on its own, by the spoonful.
- 2 cups (273 g) crunchy almonds
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 2 vanilla beans
- Place almonds, coconut oil, and maple syrup in a food processor.
- Slice the vanilla beans down the center vertically and use a spoon to scrape out the insides. Add the paste to the food processor. The beans can be reserved for use in other recipes, or discarded.
- Turn on the motor and process the mixture. After a few minutes it will turn into a rough ball, but let it keep mixing. It will separate and stick to the sides of the bowl and eventually become smooth, in about five minutes total.
- Taste and adjust as you like, adding a bit of salt or a little more maple syrup as needed.
- Serve on toast, with celery, or however you like your almond butter. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Note that it hardens slightly when cold.
- Prep Time: 2 mintues
- Cook Time: 2 minutes
- Category: Nut Butters
- Method: Blending
- Cuisine: Vegan
Keywords: almond, almond butter, soaked nuts
What’s your favorite way to enjoy this recipe? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to give it a five-star rating if you loved it.
Looking for more homemade spreads and nut butters to try next? Consider these:
- Thyme Pine Nut Butter
- Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Photos by Shanna Mallon, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on March 12th, 2014. Last updated on December 2, 2021.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
Most of the staff at Foodal are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.