I’ve been a fool. I’ve had a Vitamix for several years without ever making my own nut butter. I set out to remedy that omission recently, making almond butter twice to test the process with a Vitamix. With almonds from Costco, the total cost was $3.26 for a pound of almond butter. I’d recently finished of a jar of raw almond butter from Trader Joe’s, and my batch fit nicely into the cleaned empty jar. Score.
Directions for making homemade almond butter with a food processor can be found at Heather Eats Almond Butter‘s recipe for homemade nut butter. I would hesitate to make this recipe in a low-powered blender or one without a thermal sensor to protect the motor from overheating. This recipe is hard work for any machine and it wouldn’t be worth the risk of burning out your food processor or blender’s motor.
The first time I made almond butter with the Vitamix I left the machine running at a low speed until the nuts were finely chopped, then went to the highest variable speed. That resulted in the machine shutting itself off to protect the motor from overheating, so I had to finish the almond butter an hour later.
The second time I increased the speed quickly to the highest variable setting, then high power. At 30 seconds, I smelled a plastic smell, which may have simply been the almonds heating the container. The almonds themselves got very hot, while the machine base stayed cool. I left the machine off for a few minutes to be cautious, then resumed blending at high speed. The almond butter was done about a minute later, just long enough that my arm got a nice little workout from tamping it.
Update: I’ve now made almond butter two more times according to this recipe with no problems. It’s a normal part of the Vitamix operation for the contents of the blender to become hot if the blender is run for long enough on the highest speed. For example, the recipe book that I received with the blender includes soup recipes where you run the blender for five minutes in order to actually cook (or at least heat up) the soup in the blender.
I made this recipe once starting with frozen almonds, and the almonds never became hot in the blender container. Also, more of the natural oil of the almonds seemed to be released, resulting in a creamier nut butter. I will have to try this again to see if starting with frozen almonds makes a consistent difference to the texture.
Second update: I’ve switched to using frozen almonds every time. I think that heating up soup in the Vitamix is different from heating up something very thick like almond butter in the Vitamix, and I’d rather not get the contents (and perhaps the motor) that hot. Starting with frozen almonds allows me to blend and tamp the almond butter long enough to get it nice and smooth and oily without the almond butter getting very hot. Tamp the almonds vigorously until they are blended in, giving your arms a little workout.
Third update: Another hint I’ve learned to avoid overheating the motor is to let the blades come back to full speed after each time you tamp the almonds, which you can tell by the sound the machine makes. When the blades are not able to move freely at the full speed you’ve set them at, that’s when heat builds up in the motor. It will happen briefly each time you tamp the nuts at first, just let the machine have time to recover and get the blades spinning freely again.
- 3 cups frozen raw almonds
- Place almonds into Vitamix.
- Turn Vitamix on the lowest variable setting, quickly increase speed to highest variable setting and then to high power, meanwhile mixing the almonds vigorously with the tamper.
- Continue to tamp the almonds vigorously as they blend at high speed for about a minute.
- Tamping the almonds continuously and vigorously will keep the machine from overheating. You will get a little arm workout.
- Stop when the almonds are blended to your satisfaction.
- If at any point you begin to smell the blender overheating, turn it off for a few minutes before resuming the blending process. If it actually does get too hot, the Vitamix has an automatic thermal shutoff to protect the motor. But it will not turn on again until it has cooled off and some time (maybe an hour) has passed. So be aware and use caution.
Let me know in the comments how my directions work out for you!