Walnut butter is a spread made from ground walnuts. Depending on the preparation method used, walnut butter can be smooth and creamy, or chunky, and it is rich in all of the nutrients common to walnuts, including copper, essential fatty acids, and manganese. There are a variety of ways to use walnut butter, depending on personal taste. Many health food stores carry this nut butter, and it can also be found in some major markets. For people with strong blenders, walnut butter can be made at home.
Like other nut butters, walnut butter is made by grinding walnuts, causing them to release their oil and slowly blend into a very thick paste. In some cases, additional oil may be added to lubricate the walnuts as they are ground, especially if the grinder is a bit weak, to ensure that the motor of the grinder does not become strained. After grinding, the paste has a creamy texture, explaining the “butter” in the name.
Walnut butter is a perishable food. The grinding exposes the oils to oxidation, increasing the rate at which the nuts will go rancid. As a general rule, homemade walnut butter should be stored under refrigeration, and used within a few months. Sealed walnut butter from the store can be kept at room temperature, but once the seal is broken, it needs to go into the fridge. If walnut butter smells or tastes peculiar, it is a sign that it has gone bad, and it should be discarded.
A common problem with nut butters is separation, in which the solids settle to the bottom, and the fat rises to the top. One way to solve this problem is to simply invert the jar for storage, and to turn the jar right side up an hour or so before use, allowing the ingredients to mix as the oil tries to float to the top. The walnut butter can also be stirred with a knife or spoon to reintegrate the ingredients.
Walnut butter can be used in the same way cooks would use peanut and other nut butters. It can be spread on sandwiches and crackers, mixed into cookie doughs, used as a layer in nut cakes, and included in various rich sauces. Walnut butter can be slightly bitter, depending on the walnuts used to make it, and it tends to be extremely rich, more so than peanut butter, which is something to keep in mind.