I somewhat recently acquired a melanger, which is a stone grinder used for chocolate making. It has a motor which turns a belt, which turns a stone base and two stone rollers. It takes things like cocoa beans (in the form of nibs) and ground nuts, and liquifies them into cocoa liquor and nut butters, respectively.
I couldn’t find that many resources online about how to make either of these things with it, so I experimented and came up with some things that work. Before I start, for anyone reading this who is sad that they don’t have a melanger, you can make very delicious nut butters in a food processor by just processing the nuts for 5-10 minutes. My small $25 4-cup Cuisinart has made countless cups of almond butter. The results will be different, however, as I’ll cover at the end.
Okay, back to the melanger. Here’s a recipe that will yield about 4 pounds of almond butter. Feel free to substitute almost any kind of nut; cashew, walnut, hazelnut, peanut, and many more will work.
- First, you’ll want to measure 4 pounds of almonds. I’ve found that if you use much more than 4 pounds, the process gets rather slow and you’re better off doing a second batch after removing the first one.For the almonds, feel free to use raw, pasteurized, roasted, salted, unsalted; whatever makes your almond dreams come true. I use unpasteurized almonds, which are only legally obtainable directly from the farmer in the US, because it makes me happy to do so. Generally I prefer unsalted things as well because then I can choose the salt myself (in this batch, applewood smoked sea salt).
- Next, pulse them in a food processor (likely in ~30 second batches) until you end up with something mealy / flour-like in texture.
- Put this into the melanger slowly, 2 cups at a time. Adding it any faster will likely cause the melanger to seize and you’ll have to take some out. When it becomes smooth and butter-like, it is time to add another 2 cups.
- Add anything else you’d like. If you started with unsalted nuts, I’d recommend 1T or so salt (to taste, try smoked). You can also add fun things like flax and/or chia. For 4lbs of almonds, I’d use about 4oz of each added ingredient that you want. It’s done when you want it to be done. I like it creamy, and if you do too, wait for a little gloss (1 to 2 hours).
- Unscrew the top, lift up the bowl, and pour it into your favorite container. Refrigerate and enjoy for a long time.
Garlic for scale.
So there you have it! For what it’s worth, my personal experiment resulted in a 90% yield, such that starting with 4 pounds of almonds resulted in 3.6 pounds ending up in the final container. However, this didn’t include all the almond butter I scraped off with my finger for tasting and before cleaning, which my stomach tells me was no small amount.
Now, someone who has made nut butters before would reasonably ask: why do this in an expensive device when I could just use a food processor (and had to use one anyway)? First, almond butter made in a melanger will be much creamier and smoother than almond butter made a food processor; a blade and a stone are two very different tools. Second, and related to the first, you can very uniformly integrate ingredients like the flax, chia, and sea salt that wouldn’t achieve a small and consistent particle size otherwise. Third, I already had the melanger for chocolate making (Also, while not a big sell for me, raw foodies enjoy that the temperature can easily be kept sufficiently low by pointing a fan into the device.)