Monday, May 14, 2012

Oh Nuts!

Pecan trees!

Two tall stalwart figures, garbed in brown and green
quietly standing vigil, nothing goes unseen.
Generations served, humbly and composed
I'll pause beneath thy shadows and be in calm repose.
Michelle Threewits

We are blessed with two beautiful pecan trees that must be close to 100 years old.  They were probably witnesses to the building of our 80+ year old farmhouse and have been standing guard over generations of families ever since.  Each year we receive a bumper crop of pecans and every year I struggle to find space to store them!

9 gallons in the chest freezer!

I currently have 9 gallons in the freezer and an 18 gallon storage container for the rest....this does not include the gallons we have given away!  Oh, what to do, what to do?  I love pecans as much as the next person but I needed to come up with some ways to use these lovely nuts.  I figured with the price of peanut butter sky high that I'd try my hand at making pecan butter.  As it turns out, not only is it delicious and healthy for you, it is really easy to make!

For a basic pecan butter you will need:
  • 2 cups pecans (whole or pieces) Be sure to use the highest quality, freshest pecans you can find, organic would be best.
  • sea salt/Kosher salt to taste
First, place your pecans in a single layer on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet and then lightly toast the pecans in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes or until aromatic. You can also use a skillet and stove top over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Watch carefully so they do not burn.

Mmmmm, they smell wonderful
Allow the pecans to cool and then place in a food processor and blend, using a spatula to scrape down the sides every so often.  It will become crumbly and then after 5 to 8 minutes (depending on your processor) it should have a smooth and creamy consistency. At this point you can add your salt to taste and give it a couple of spins to blend.

Crumbly stage
Wallah! Pecan butter! Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. Yields about 1 cup (this recipe can be doubled or tripled).

You can stop earlier for a thicker consistency.
Use your pulse button until you get the desired smoothness,
this is a little thinner that I usually make it, but it's still great!
To make it interesting you can try these different versions.

Coconut Pecan Butter

Add 4-6 Tbsp of coconut oil (organic), 14 oz of coconut flakes, 2 Tbsp of raw honey and 2 tsp vanilla extract (I like Madagascar vanilla).  Pulse the coconut flakes first until creamy.  Add the pecans and then pulse them until they are completely down.  While your processor is still running, slowly add the coconut oil until it is the consistency you want (chunky, creamy, oily). Last, while the processor is still running add the honey, vanilla and salt, blend. Enjoy! 

Or...Chocolate Pecan Butter

You can also try adding 2 heaping Tbsp of organic cocoa powder to the pulsed down pecans and then slowly adding 3 Tbsp of maple syrup while the processor is running. Easy peasie chocolate pecan butter...divine! The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.


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