Don’t Ever Do This With A Peanut

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Cooking and Eating

Those of you tuning in to see if I somehow injured my private parts while making peanut butter will be disappointed, but given the subject matter, I was still able to throw in a good nut joke or two.

I love peanut butter. It is a gooey, crunchy slice of heaven that has a very powerful hold over me. If peanut butter told me the chop up the mailman and stick him in a hefty bag under the house, I would probably do it. I love making Malcolm peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for school because it means I get to lick the knife afterwards. If I got one food that I got to eat for the rest of my life, I would definitely select crunchy, old style peanut butter. (Suck on that, cheese!)

Not surprisingly, I chose peanut butter as one of the foods I would try to make this week. It seemed simple enough, buy peanuts, roast ’em, shell ’em, and grind em up. No big deal, right? When I finished, I realized that I was never going to get that the process was long, physically demanding, and that I didn’t save any money either. Add in the fact that the finished product closely resembled dark brown spackle, and you’ll find that I will never, ever make peanut butter again.

Daddy, why are you swearing at the peanuts?

After roasting the peanuts in their shell, I knew I was in trouble. I now had two pounds of peanuts to extricate from their homes, which, on a per unit basis, added up to around 400 peanuts. As fun as taking a delicious roast peanut out of its shell is to eat, doing 400 times feels more like torture. It felt rather like trying to conceive a baby: doing it once is fantastic! Doing it five times in a three day spell for twelve months in a row takes on a more of a chore-like quality. I began to resent the peanut for having a shell at all, talking to the individual nuts scornfully and telling them how sore my arms were getting. After a full hour of shelling while huddling over two different bowls at the kitchen table, I was finally done.

With the first step! I completely forgot that peanuts have skins, and those skins need to come off before they can be ground up. After wasting away for a while individually taking off each peanut skin, I eventually looked on the internet for a better way. Luckily, the internet covers such subjects, and I was quickly spinning the peanuts in a colander with the bottom of the cup in much the same manner as a salad spinner. With little pieces of skins flying everywhere, the kitchen floor soon began to resemble the floor of a dive bar.

Undaunted, I moved to the last phase of the project: the grinding. (Actually, at this point I was very daunted. I wanted to quit, but kept chugging along on the off chance that things might get tasty at the end.) Inspecting the peanuts more closely, I realized that these nuts were not the robust nuts you think of when you dream about peanuts telling you to chop up the mailman. No, these nuts were tiny and shriveled, the Barry Bonds’ nuts of the peanut world. The size of the nuts also carried the unfortunate  circumstance of cooking much quicker than I had thought, so the tiny little nuts were dark brown and smelled a bit on the acrid side. (I’m leaving that one alone!) When I finally got them into the food processor, and added a bit of oil, the resulting mixture was chocolaty-brown and had a mealy texture, a far cry from the soft brown, velvetiness that it should be. That paled in comparison the aftertaste of burnt food that  permeated the batch. I am going to try and feed it to Malcolm to see if he notices, but if he does, the who effort will get thrown away. Sometimes, when you swing for the fences you hit a home run. Other times, you get busted for steroid abuse.

I am sure that I can tweak my approach and get things to turn out better next time. Given the amount of time it would take though and the fact that the organic store brand costs the same, I’ll stick to buying PB in a jar.


8 responses to “Don’t Ever Do This With A Peanut”

  1. Tara Haner says:

    Very impressive effort. Definitely convinced me to keep on buying the devilishly good stuff. If you master the process though, let me know…could be a fun homeschool project. Was Malcolm capable of helping with any of he process?

  2. Drew says:

    I too, am powerless to the allure of Peanut Butter.

    My dad made us PB when we were kids. It took a little getting used to, but it was way better than the store bought stuff. When we eventually switched back, it took weeks before I was okay with the change.

  3. Meg Bear says:

    Why not use the Peanut Butter machine at Whole Foods or Molly Stone and have that machine grind it for you? It feels like a fair compromise to me and I think it tastes better than the jar stuff. I typically find it next to the coffee grinders.

    • Our grocer has a peanut butter grinder, but the peanuts in there look really sad. I thought the stuff I would be better, but I was wrong. I’llk try the machine next time.

  4. Amy says:

    Paul – I think I got an email today that could help – “How to enlarge your peanuts” – good luck!

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