Pumpkin Seed Butter

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Once upon a last weekend I stumbled into a free sample table at my local grocery store. I’m always a sucker for samples, but not in the way most people are. No, I’m an actual sucker because I still haven’t figured out how to accept a free sample but still politely decline buying whatever it is they’re peddling. Words fail me. My face starts to flush. And the next thing I know, there’s a $7.49 tub of pumpkin-sunflower-flax seed butter in my basket.

All I wanted was some cat food. And maybe a can of beans.

The good news is this time I actually loved the product… I didn’t love the price tag so much. When I got home, I told Chris to go easy on it because it was expensive, and then proceeded to eat almost the whole tub myself in a couple of days.

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It was the perfect storm, really. I knew making your own peanut butter was a simple process, but I’d never done it before. And since I couldn’t stomach the idea of shelling out $8 every time I wanted a 9 oz. fix of fancy seed butter, I got busy.

First, I tested the oily waters by making Smitten Kitchen’s Peanutella – with one tiny tweak. We’ve been on a food detox that includes no added sugars, so I attempted to make this chocolatey, peanutty spread with dates instead of powdered sugar. Success! Maybe not as sweet as some might want it, but I knew it was going to be paired with apples, so it was the perfect substitute.

Once I realized how ridiculously easy it is to make homemade nut butter, I went back to the grocery store and tried not to cry every time I accidentally looked at the price tags on organic nuts/seeds.

I brought home raw pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, a bag of flax meal… Plus some hazelnuts, for another project. 🙂

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The first step when making your nut/seed butter is to roast them for 5-10 minutes. Closer to 10 if you’re working with raw ingredients, and 5 if you’ve got regular nuts/seeds. This brings out a deeper flavor and draws out the oils. Swish ‘em around at the halfway mark to make sure no one gets too toasty.

After the roasting, check around for anybody that didn’t survive the trip to Mordor. Like this guy. Sorry, lil buddy.

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Now, for the fun part. Load up your food processor and let. her. RIP. (My food processor is totally a lady. Her name is Sheila.)

The first thing that’ll happen is your seeds will turn to dust. If you want to up the nutritional content of your seed butter, this is a good time to add in the flax meal. I might’ve added a bit too much, since I was guessing on the ratios (I went for 4:2:1), because there’s a speckled texture that sticks to the roof of my mouth that I assume can only be the work of some sticky icky flax seeds. It’s slight enough that it isn’t a real bother, but lingers enough that the next batch will definitely test out smaller portions of flax meal.

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The next thing that’ll happen is your seeds will start to turn into a paste. You might have to turn off the food processor and scrape the sides down a couple times. If you keep blending, the paste will turn into a ball and that ball will start whipping around on top of the blades. With peanuts, they eventually liquefied, but after a minute more of blending, this particular ball was still just a ball.

That’s where some oil comes in handy. I used canola for flavor neutral purposes, but if you’ve got something fancier, then by all means, use that!

Speaking of fancy: If you’re like me, you might have 20 tiny jars of different kinds of salt lying around your cupboards. There’s maybe 5 that I really know what to do with, the rest get used haphazardly like regular ol’ table salt. I picked up my plum salt for the sole purpose of geeking out over the color combo here, but seriously, use whatever salt you’ve got.

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The pay-off is somethin’ else, man. It’s a gooey, drippy, dippy seed butter packed full of good stuff that somehow still satisfies the part of me that craves all the bad stuff.

Reduce the oil if you want it less Drippy Dippy and more Spready Freddy.

Pumpkin Sunflower Flax Seed Butter

20 Minutes     /     Makes ~16 oz.

2 cups Pumpkin Seeds (raw)
1 cup Sunflower Seeds (raw, hulled)
½ cup Flax Meal (maybe less. See notes.)
¼ to 1/3 cup Canola oil
1 teaspoon Salt (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Roast Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds on a rimmed baking sheet for 5 minutes. Shake ’em around a bit, and roast for 5 more.
  2. Transfer to a food processor and grind into a fine dust. Add flax meal and blend some more.
  3. With the processor running, gradually add the oil. More for dippy, less for spready.
  4. Continue to blend until completely smooth. Add salt to taste and blend for a few more seconds.
  5. Transfer to airtight glass jars. You’ll probably want to refrigerate them, but I like to live on the edge.

I’ve just been eating mine with crisp red Piñata apples, but the lady who sold me my gateway seed butter said it was delicious when used in curries, too. I’ll let you know. Or you let me know. Whoever gets there first.

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