Peanut Butter

Upon arrival in Mozambique, I was prepared to pay a pretty penny to continue enjoying peanut butter. What hadn’t crossed my mind, however, was the possibility that I would be able to make it myself.-Stephen Pope

The house we moved into two weeks ago came with a well-stocked kitchen of one rice cooker and two mortars-and-pestle. On our first weekend there, Hannah decided to use one of the mortars to make peanut butter.

Unlike in Narumbo, Mozambique, where Stephen Pope has instructed the local populace how to make peanut butter in order to fill a gap in both their nutrition and the variety of their food supply, it is not necessary for us farangs in Pak Thong Chai to make our peanut butter by hand. You can buy jars of peanut butter at 7-11 or Tesco Lotus, the local grocery store (in fact, if I’m ever nostalgic for America, I can go to Tesco to buy Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers, or even M&M’s). However, making peanut butter by hand is more nutritious, more rewarding, and more fun.

I helped Hannah shell and mash the peanuts for our first batch, while she mashed and experimented with levels of oil, sugar, and salt to get that perfect peanut butter taste. Unfortunately, that batch was less than perfect.


Peanut Butter: batch #2

The next weekend I endeavored to make a second batch—though Hannah and Ben, perhaps disenchanted from the first attempt, decided not to join in. The second batch came out quite well, however, and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve made two more batches since, whenever I have a few idle hours on a weekend. My “recipe” is below. Check it out in case your food processor ever breaks and you can’t make it to the supermarket, but you have a pile of peanuts you don’t know what to do with.


The only things you absolutely need are these: peanuts, oil (I use coconut oil), a mortar & pestle, and a source of heat.


Peanuts, oil, mortar & pestle.

  1. Start by roasting the unskinned peanuts. I do not measure a specific amount of them, but use just enough to cover my pan in one layer of nuts. Roast until the skins are partially darkened. Remove the nuts from heat and put them in a bowl.

    Roasted, unskinned peanuts.

    1. Roasting the peanuts improves the taste, texture, and color of the finished product. If you don’t roast them, you’ll end up with pale, powdery stuff that resembles, but does not quite achieve, the taste of peanut butter.
  2. Wait about 5 minutes for the nuts to cool off.
  3. Remove the skins. You’ll want to put skinned peanuts into a separate bowl. The skinned peanuts should be partially darkened as well. This step can be long and dull, so I recommend listening to music while you skin.

    Roasted, skinned peanuts.

    1. Don’t worry about removing every little particle of skin. Roasted peanuts are easier to skin than unroasted peanuts. And whatever you can’t remove will get mashed into the product soon enough.
  4. The fun step! Toss a handful of skinned peanuts into the mortar and begin mashing. Add another handful every 5-10 minutes. If you can avoid it, don’t do this step in Thailand—the humidity will soon have you sweating like you wouldn’t believe. My typical batch of peanuts takes about an hour to mash.
    1. The peanuts will crush into powder at first. But the more you

      Mash it up!

      add into the mix, and the more you mash them up, the more it will start to resemble peanut butter.

    2. You’ll know you’re nearing the end when you start to see hints of moisture on the mixture (say that 5 times fast). This means that the peanuts’ natural oil is emerging, and it is really the essential thing about peanut butter. It also means you should keep mashing for about 5 minutes to get the right texture.
  5. The only necessary step after the mashing is to add a little extra oil to soften everything up. I never add more than one tablespoon of coconut oil. Mix it in for a minute or so.
  6. After that, you can add more ingredients to taste (but peanuts and oil are the only two essential ingredients). I like to add a tablespoon of honey for sweetness. I’m sure sugar, vanilla, almond extract, or cinnamon would work just as well. Or chili powder for the dareful.
  7. Your finished product will look, feel, and taste like peanut butter you’d get from the natural foods aisle at the supermarket. It won’t be creamy Skippy or Jif, but it’ll be healthier and tastier!

A scrumptious treat!


3 thoughts on “Peanut Butter

  1. Love it! Sounds like a great activity and delicious finished product. Love that you’re putting your “well-stocked” kitchen to good use 🙂 ! Might be a fun project to do with the students one day (if you don’t have any peanut allergies to worry about). Who knew this would be on your list of new experiences in Thailand! Keep it up 🙂 . Love and hugs.

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