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Kitchen hack: Homemade nut butter

Peanut butter fan? Whether you are or not, there's a whole world of nut butters beyond the peanut butter you loved as a kid. They can be so much better than the commercial stuff you find on a grocery store shelf — and they're really easy to make.

All you need are nuts — peanut, almond, cashew, etc. — and a little flavoring or seasoning. You can add a touch of sugar if you want to sweeten the stuff, or maybe a bit of honey or maple syrup. That's it. Don’t add oil — nuts already have a high oil content and will release enough oil for the butter themselves with a little time and patience.

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Here's how you do it: Toast the nuts in a 350- to 375-degree oven until they're fragrant and slightly darkened. Toasting nuts in general before adding to a recipe will lend a richer, deeper flavor to the final dish. Cool the nuts a bit, then put the warm nuts in a food processor and start grinding. Process the nuts until they're ground to coarse meal, then continue until you finally get a smooth paste. And yeah, scrape down the bowl periodically.

As you process, the nuts will first clump together as their oils are released, finally smoothing out over five or so minutes. That's your nut butter. Taste the butter and season, or flavor, processing everything together. To store, cover the container and refrigerate; the nut butter will keep up to a couple of weeks.

Fold your homemade nut butter into smoothies or oatmeal, or use it to flavor everything from dressings to dips to frostings. And don't forget sandwiches. Or just eating it out of the Mason jar you put it all in.

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