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Are seed butters the new nut butters? By Sophie Gilmour

To say I was sceptical about seed butter as a substitute for nut butter is an understatement; I simply wouldn’t have believed that roasted sunflower seeds could mimic the flavour of their famous cousin peanut butter, or that an ‘everything butter’ made from a mix of seeds could have such great depth of flavour – but I’m pleased to say I was wrong. Not only do seed butters taste great and present an interesting alternative toast topping, you can slip them through the school gates without issue, use them to garner popularity with nut-allergic friends, and even gift them in place of your usual handmade jam this Christmas.

The key thing that we have learned is that seed butters do not need extra oil. The natural oil from the seeds is released when they are blitzed in the food processor, turning the butter into a creamy consistency. Second to this is to never be tempted to add water – it will make the butter seize and break your heart simultaneously! Be patient and use sight as the best judge of when it’s ready – timing will depend on the speed of your food processor.

Both of these recipes are for a simple seed butter flavoured with only salt, and will produce a handsome 350 ml jar, but they can also be used as a base and flavoured with cinnamon, maple syrup, stevia, coconut sugar, good quality cocoa powder or vanilla pods should you wish to pivot them toward the sweet or festive.  Add flavourings only once the butter has reached its creamy consistency to avoid risking it seizing.

SUNFLOWER SEED BUTTER

  • 4 cups sunflower seeds
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius on bake.

Measure the seeds onto a baking tray and spread out to the corners.

Toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until starting to colour. The seeds in the corner will toast first so toss them around every few minutes. If they burn, start again!

Tip the seeds into a food processor with the salt. Whizz on high for about 6-8 minutes. The seeds will first turn to a powder, then form into a sticky ball. Be patient! After 5 or so minutes they will need at least another couple of minutes to reach a creamy consistency.

Taste, adding more salt if necessary.

Transfer the butter to a clean, airtight jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month, or freeze in a plastic container for up to 3 months.

EVERYSEED BUTTER

  • 3 ½ cups sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp white chia seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 heaped tbsp hemp hearts (hulled hemp seeds)
  • ½ tsp flaky sea salt

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius on bake.

Measure the sunflower and pumpkin seeds onto a baking tray and spread out to the corners.

Toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until starting to colour. The seeds in the corner will toast first so toss them around every few minutes. If they burn, start again!

Tip the seeds into a food processor with the rest of the seeds and the salt. Whizz on high for about 6-8 minutes. The seeds will first turn to a powder, then form into a sticky ball. Be patient! After 5 or so minutes it will need at least another couple of minutes to reach a creamy consistency.

Taste, adding more salt if necessary.

Transfer the butter to a clean, airtight jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month or freeze in a plastic container for up to 3 months.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Spread seed butter on toast and top with

  • fresh blueberries (or strawberry slices) and drizzle with honey or maple syrup;
  • sliced banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon and muscovado sugar;
  • finely chopped celery and alfalfa sprouts;
  • lots of grated dark chocolate or chocolate chips;
  • thin slices of pear and grated dark chocolate;
  • toasted flaked coconut and seeds;
  • cucumber slices, lots of freshly cracked black pepper and flaky sea salt;
  • pickled vegetables like radish or cauliflower;
  • crispy bits of maple bacon.

Spread seed butter on fresh bread

  • with lashings of sea salt butter underneath;
  • top with sauerkraut and crunchy bean sprouts;
  • top with kimchi and toasted sesame seeds;
  • top with your favourite homemade jam.

Stir seed butter through

  • ganache and pour over your best vanilla ice cream;
  • chocolate mousse to give a sweet/salty flavour;
  • porridge, or on top of a smoothie bowl

Seed butter is also delicious as a dip on your Summer crudité platter.

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