Walnuts are so soft and rich that they blend up easily in a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix. Start with good walnuts and you’ll like the results. Look for a store that refrigerates its nuts or that has a high turnover. Walnuts go rancid quickly when shelled, and I’ve been unhappy with the quality and price of the typical supermarket walnuts. Avoid bags of nuts that have shreds of the bitter papery membrane that attaches the walnut to the shell. I’ve found Costco’s walnuts to be fresh, and I like the price.
Some people soak walnuts overnight before using them to remove most of the tannins found in the walnuts’ skin, then dehydrate the nuts before blending. That improves their digestibility and takes away the astringent, bitter note that the tannins give. I like the taste of plain, ordinary walnuts just fine, and it’s unclear to me that soaking the walnuts is a net benefit nutritionally, so I don’t soak them. (For more on walnuts’ nutritional benefits, see The World’s Healthiest Foods).
You could toast the walnuts in the oven first to add toasted flavor to your nut butter. I haven’t tried that. This is just your basic, easy walnut butter. No salt, no added oil, no spices like cinnamon.
If you like, go ahead and add things to customize the recipe. Though a warning: walnut oil is very strong-flavored, much more so than the walnuts themselves. I’ve ruined other recipes with it so be careful if you use it.
If you don’t have a Vitamix or other high-powered blender, I’ve read this will work just fine in a food processor, though you may have to stop and scrape it down a few times. The texture will probably not be quite as smooth.
- 5 cups walnut
- Start with frozen nuts to keep them cool as they blend.
- Put nuts in Vitamix. Blend, starting at a low variable speed, raising the speed to a high variable speed, then switching to high power.
- Blend until smooth, tamping and stirring the nuts with the tamper.
- The walnut butter ought to be smooth in about one minute.
- Yield: about 1¾ cups.
Related recipe: almond butter.