August 11, 2015
It seems like nearly everyone has to pack lunch for nut-free classrooms these days. Whether yours is a family contenting with nut allergies or just looking for a nutritious swap for your staple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sunflower seed butter is a life saver. Sunbutter, the most popular brand, comes in creamy or crunchy and is pretty tasty, too. (My kids think it tastes a whole lot like peanut butter.) The only problem is that it can be pricy. So, instead of buying it—since I also stock peanut butter for non-school days—I make small batches using this DIY Sunbutter recipe to cover school lunch.
All you need to make your own sunflower seed butter is raw sunflower seeds, salt, sugar, and honey (or, if you’re sharing with anyone under 12-months-old, agave syrup).
Using raw sunflower seeds is really important. Even though you toast them before making sun butter, you can’t use pre-roasted. It seems like it’ll be a shortcut, I know, but it will really just be a disaster since roasted sunflower seeds don’t have enough oil to produce a creamy spread.
Toasting your raw seeds before blending them into a sunbutter gives your sunflower seeds spread an awesome flavor that I think is way better but, if you’re in a time crunch, you can make this without toasting them first. If you like the way it tastes, going straight from the package to the blender will certainly save you time—it’s just a matter of taste.
To make a big batch, I toss 3 cups of raw sunflower seeds into an ungreased pan set over medium heat. I cook them, shaking the pan every minute or so, until they are fragrance and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Then, toss the toasted seeds into a food processor or high powered blender with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar. Then whiz, whiz, whiz.
At first, the seeds will turn into a fine powder, then a grainy butter—don’t stop here. The longer you process the seeds, the more their oils will release. Keep going and soon, the grainy butter will turn into a creamy spread. Once this happens, you can leave it as chunky or make it as sooth as you like. The whole process can take 8-10 minutes, depending on how powerful your processor or blends is.
If you want to sweeten your sun butter beyond the sugar you’ve added in the beginning (like I do), add some honey to the grainy butter. Do it to taste—I usually add 2-3 teaspoons. You can add cinnamon then, too.
Then enjoy. Add what you don’t eat right away to a sealed container and keep in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.