Sunday, 25 July 2010

Peanut butter, green sauce and other spreads ~

The price of butter is exorbitant compared to what it used to be, and the price of good quality butter-like spreads keeps fairly close to it.  As a result I eat far less of either than I used to and have been exploring other options.

Peanut butter is one of these - it's now cheaper than either.  I've looked carefully at the brands and have found that the Sanitarium brand is produced in Australia, whereas the Eta brand is now produced in China.  I choose to buy the one produced in Australia, which has fewer food miles associated with it, and is produced where food safety regulations closely match our own.  I should think that peanut butter is more nutritious than butter or margarine, which is another good reason to eat more of it than I used to, with jam or with Vegemite.  I've looked carefully at the labelling and found that peanut butter contains significantly less fat than dairy butter. 

Another alternative is a tasty vegetable oil and green herb spread which is a form of mayonnaise.  The economy of the recipe will depend on what sort of oil you use and whether you have parsley growing in the garden.  Either way, it's very easy to whiz up in the blender or food processor and the ingredients and quantities are elastic.  When I make it I taste it a number of times to be sure that it's just how I like it.  It's yummy with anything savoury such as cheese and tomato or lettuce.  Here is the recipe: 

Green sauce:
The ingredients are
  • Vegetable oil of good quality - 1 cup.  Olive oil is suggested but expensive.  If using olive oil you may wish to avoid the 'virgin' type due to its strong flavour.  I've made it with other good quality vegetable oil with equal success.
  • Parsley - a generous handful
  • Sprigs of mint and some rocket for extra tang if you like them and have them to hand.  Go easy with the mint as it is possible to overdo it - you might like to add it bit by bit and taste as you go along
  • An egg
  • The juice of a lemon - according to taste, from a half to a whole one
  • Mustard - a teaspoonful, either whole grain or powdered
  • Salt and pepper - according to taste
  • A teaspoon of honey can round out the flavours nicely.  I expect a little sugar would do just as well.
The original recipe contained raw garlic and onion, which I don't care for so have not included it above, but you may like to experiment with it.

Method: put all the main ingredients except the oil into the blender and whiz gradually until they've liquefied and combined, then slowly drizzle in the oil which will thicken as its added.  Adjust the seasoning to your satisfaction and that's it!  How simple is that?  The resulting sauce will fill a jar of 400 to 500 gram capacity.

I've tried to find a reputable source about the expected shelf life for mayonnaise made with raw egg.  I found a great deal of conjecture and discussion, but no clear consensus: a maximum of one week seems to be the rule of thumb if its kept in a closed container in an adequately cold fridge.  I think glass is best for food storage.

I did find a useful web page about eggs supplied by What's cooking America, which includes instructions for cooking egg for those recipes which require it raw, but disappointingly, their page about mayonnaise doesn't mention this.  I'll experiment with the suggested cooking, and also try substituting a tablespoon of low fat sour cream or yoghurt for the egg and see how that goes.  I'll add notes from further experimentations to the foot of this article.  The combined ingredients are mostly parsley and oil after all; those fresh greens have got to be good food value and tasty yummy! 

For those who wish to minimize fat intake or reduce cholesterol levels I have it on good medical authority that the margarine spread Flora pro-activ does lower cholesterol absorption as is claimed on the pack.  Information there reads:
25 grams (about four teaspoons) of Flora pro-activ a day provides the optimal intake of plant sterols (2 grams) needed to significantly lower cholesterol absorption.  Consuming more than 3 grams of plant sterols daily has no additional benefits.  Use as part of a healthy diet, which is low in saturated fat and high in fruit and vegetables. (etc.)
It's not a cheap option, but it does seem a good one for those who have these concerns.


Penelope said...

Yum, good reminder, Leigh. I watched my cousin Jo whizz up that delicious herb mayonnaise but I'd forgotten about it. Alex has been making our own flavoursome peanut butter. She roasts the peanuts with skins, and into the blender they go with a few drops of oil as needed. Moderately and evenly crunchy.

Leigh said...

Thanks for this Penelope, that peanut butter is another one to try!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Pic's peanut butter? Made in NZ from Australian nuts, in Nelson. It's packaged in a nice glass jar with a star on it, the label comes off easily and if you return the jar they give a donation to a local wildlife sanctuary . It is also the nicet peanut butter I've ever eaten. It is a bit more costly than some brands but absolutely worth it.

Leigh Christina Russell said...

In response to the above comment:
Thank you for the recommendation! I'll look for it next time I'm out shopping. :-)