There are a few things you take as a given in life. Death, taxes, and the fact that no one really eats peanut butter outside of North America.
I can’t say no one eats it *at all,* because you can find peanut butter if you look really hard. Usually in your friendly corner Costco or in an upscale, foreign-food friendly grocery store. Heck, one of my favorite places is a sandwich café that boasts a pretty tasty BLT that uses peanut butter. But as you can see, all of these require a bit out-of-your-way planning, especially if you forgot to pick some up and are staring at a thoroughly-scraped jar that you put on the shelf instead of throwing away the last time you used it…
Aside from scarcity, you got other problems of price and brand. It’s not uncommon to find a normal-sized jar ranging from 8 – 12 US dollars, and that’s pretty much universally going to be Skippy brand peanut butter. My favorite brand used to be Trader Joes All-Natural Unsalted peanut butter, but obviously that’s not going to work. You can’t even take those things on airplane carry-ons anymore. I will hold out to the bitter end to avoid anything Skippy, mostly due to the presence of the hydrogenated oils that mute the taste of what should be, you know, tasting like *peanuts.* There’s another reason, too, in that I can’t really look at Skippy and not be reminded of the nearly full century-long trademark battle that occurred because Skippy used to be an American icon and popular comic character, until someone ignored a court order and kept using the mark for their peanut butter. True Story.
But here’s the thing– peanuts are readily available and used throughout Asian cooking, as is peanut oil. I can make my own homemade peanut butter for almost a quarter the cost. Better tasting, more healthy, and cheaper. And all I have to do is spend a little time at the blender and deal with the clean-up afterward. Hmm. On second thought…. Ah, just kidding.
Homemade Peanut Butter
2 cups peanuts (unsalted, shelled)
1 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Step One: Pulse the peanuts in the blender until they are reduced to crumbs.
Step Two: Add oil and blend. You’ll need to stop at several intervals to use a spatula to manually stir in the more creamy stuff at the bottom.
Step Three: When the peanuts are nearly broken down (when you don’t have to use a spatula anymore, after about 4 minutes), set the blender aside. Let it cool about 10 minutes or so, and then continue blending for another two minutes. Add a dash or two of sea salt at this point if you want.
Not many recipes call for the vanilla, but it really enhances the flavor when you eat it with fruit or jams. I sometimes add another 1 tbsp honey as well, but I don’t always like having have a sweet peanut butter.