Often when I’m feeling overwhelmed, or pulled in multiple directions and with the least amount of free time, I find myself retreating to the kitchen to make things from scratch, more than just putting together a comforting pasta or churning out some tacos. I escape into pulling each basil leaf off the stem and mixing that up with other tasty things to make pesto…or I think it’s a good time to make that sunflower seed butter again. Not my most practical method of dealing with things sometimes, but it’s just what I do.
So the other night I found myself making sunbutter for the second time (yes, after throwing together a batch of basil-arugula pesto as well). Also on my to do list was painting a chair for a good friend’s new baby. But that waited a bit while I got the sunflower seeds roasting and then churning in my food processor.
I love peanut butter. I’ve made almond butter a couple of times, too, but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up. Sunflower seeds are actually a great source of nutritious stuff like magnesium, iron, folic acid, zinc, vitamins E and some Bs…etc. I was surprised when I looked it up how much nutrition is actually packed in those little suckers!
Sunbutter is super yummm, and you can play with the flavors. I kept this simple, dry-roasting the seeds and then blending in a little maple syrup and sea salt at the end. The end result is toasty, lightly sweet, with just enough salt to balance. I am not huge on sweets, so you may end up wanting more maple than I did. Or add in vanilla. Or cinnamon. Or cocoa powder (omg you guys)…ANYWAY this sunbutter is quite tasty as is, and delicious with fruit, or subbed in on a pb&j sammy…or shoveled into my face by the spoonful. Nommmmm.
Patience is key, since it takes a while for the seeds to really transform into creamy sunbutter (sometimes close to 20 minutes!). While I initially was avoiding my paint job, it was helpful in the end because I was distracted while the food processor whirred in the background. The end result was a creamy treat that was a great break from stressing about my paint job 🙂
Maple & Sea Salt Sunbutteryields roughly 2 cups
What you need:
- 1 lb shelled, raw, unsalted sunflower seeds (roughly 3.5 cups)
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup (feel free to use more, or to sub in agave or honey)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (more/less to taste)
- Optional: 1-2 tsp neutral oil (to get things moving)
Gettin’ Things Done:
- Preheat your oven to 325° and spread your raw seeds out on a lined baking sheet.
- Once the oven is preheated, put the baking sheet in the oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until they have tanned up (roughly 15 minutes, but keep an eye on them)
- Pull the sheet out of the oven and allow the seeds to cool for about 10 minutes. They will get hot again after having been blended in the food processor for a while (friction, whatup), so you want to start out as cool as possible.
- Next, pop them into your food processor and let ‘er rip! Or spin. Or whatever.
- After about a minute, you should have a pretty fine powder. Go ahead and scrape down the sides of the bowl, and scrape up the bottom as well. Let it run again until it starts to clump (another several minutes). It will also start climbing up the walls like so:
- When you see this, scrape it down, break up the clumps as much as possible, and drizzle in about a tablespoon or so of your neutral oil. From there, you’re going to just let it run, pausing occasionally to scrape stuff down. If you feel like things aren’t moving, feel free to add a little more oil.
- You will see it go through some weird phases, but when it starts to roll around (see pictures below) you can just let it go until it works itself out. Here’s a progression:
- The final step is adding in your salt and maple syrup (or other sweetener). Add in the suggested amounts, give your processor a whirl until combined thoroughly. Taste and add more syrup or salt as you see fit!
Nut and seed butters are kinda fun to watch in-progress because it’s straight up science happening before your eyes–friction and movement creating heat and causing oils to be released…NERD MOMENT, sorry not sorry folks. But I digress. It seriously does look like some sort of sorcery, and just when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, WHABAM sunbutter. Where did the weird ball go? Into the creamy pool, dudes! Magic. Science, magic, etc.
So far I’ve had this piled up on strawberries, mixed into my morning oatmeal, swirled into yogurt with banana…and there is still so much left to be enjoyed. It is delicious. And called SUNBUTTER, come on. Do it.