For starters, it's much healthier than the jarred stuff.

We’ve all heard the saying: “Whole Foods, whole paycheck," but we’ve debunked this myth several times with smart shopping tips such as buying from the bulk bin section, grabbing a Whole Deal coupon book when you walk in, and seeking out in-season produce. But it's worth mentioning one specific group of Whole Foods delicacies that many shoppers often overlook: fresh nut butters.

The fresh nut butter machines are typically located in the bulk bin section, and look similar to large meat grinders. Situated on top of the grinders are large cases of fresh almonds, peanuts, or honey-roasted peanuts. Shoppers choose which size container and which nut they’d like to grind, and then simply place their container under the grinder and hit the green start button. When their container of liquid gold is filled to their desired level, they hit the off button, and move along with their shopping venture.  

Credit: Jamie Vespa, MS, RD

Not only is grinding your own nut butter a very ergonomic process, it’s also immensely satisfying to know that the product you’re purchasing is unadulterated and free of added oil, sugar, and salt. And perhaps the most noteworthy benefit is the cost savings.

Most almond butters on the market retail for $10.99 to $16.99 per jar, which ranges from 12 to 16 ounces. Fresh almond butter at Whole Foods is $9.99 per pound with frequent $1.00-off sales. The unsalted peanut butter is only $2.99 per pound, which is nearly 20% cheaper than any other peanut butter brand on the shelves.

You may be wondering if the taste of these freshly ground delicacies stacks up to their cost savings, and the short answer is yes. The texture is best described as a mix between smooth and crunchy nut butter—A little gritty but supremely spreadable. If you’re used to the texture of natural nut butters (they typically come with an oil slick on top from the fat separation), the texture will not be the least off-putting. If you’re expecting the texture of Jif or Skippy, you may be disappointed, but there’s just no place for hydrogenated oils or added sugar in natural nut butters.

Since these nut butters are as fresh as they come, they should be kept refrigerated or you'll run the risk of them going rancid. Stored properly, they can be enjoyed for up to one month after purchasing. Another way to avoid rancidity? Ask the store associates how often the nuts are changed out in the machines. 

Nut butter is good for a whole lot more than just eating from the jar. We use them as emulsifiers for sauces and dressings, blend them to smoothies, and use them to pump up our morning grain bowls with a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Whichever way you choose to enjoy them, fresh is the way to go.