Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Q & A: natural peanut butter

I occasionally have a question I'd like to discuss with other foodies. And even though my kids think they are foodies, I'd rather talk to real people. Like you.

So, how 'bout I ask and you answer. You're awfully quiet, you people who visit here. And maybe you'll talk if I ask.

I ask.

You answer.

So, today's question is, what do you think about natural peanut butter?

I buy natural peanut butter, Krema brand to be exact (a local company). And it is good, but then almost all peanut butter is good. The problem I have with natural peanut butter is the maintenance. It's made with only peanuts, no oils or salt, and so it separates. When I first open a jar I have to stir it to death, and then I have to refrigerate it if I don't want to do that every time I use it. And if I refrigerate it, it's not very spreadable -- it rather rips the bread apart.

I realize I am sucked in by the "natural" label and the "purity" of the product, so I think maybe I'd like to switch.

So, do you eat natural peanut butter? Do you think that other brands of peanut butter (they are not
unnatural, so I'm not sure what to call them) -- the kinds that are processed with oils to keep them smooth -- are just as good? I'd love to know your thoughts.



Anonymous said...

OK, I admit it...I am guilty! I do not comment when I visit your blog, and I do visit, almost daily. I will try to do better about leaving comments. I know that people visit me regularly and don't talk. As for natural peanut butter - I do not buy it. I buy JIF...always, all the time. Oil, salt...whatever, I think it is the best!
Have a great day and I love your blog and recipes.

Sara said...

We buy natural from Trader Joe's and we do refrigerate it. I thought you had to so it wouldn't go rancid? We use pretty sturdy whole grain bread that isn't as delicate, plus I think TJ's pb is softer.

Have you seen the peanut butter stirring lids ? It's a lid with a stirrer stuck through the center so you can stir with the lid on. I don't remember the name---I got one from amazon, but they come in different sizes and it was the wrong size for our brand.

Beth said...

We use natural peanut butter, Adams Brand to be exact. (From We buy it in the big 32 oz jars and just store them in the pantry until it is time to use them.

When we open a new jar, it gets dumped into the stand mixer and gets mixed together, then goes back into the jar. That helps keep it from separating again. We then store it in the cabinet and have never had a problem with it going rancid. (But then again, we eat a lot of peanut butter).

scmom (Barbara) said...

I held a jar of JIF in my hands for several minutes at the store the other day -- thinking, thinking. And I put it back and grabbed my regular.

Still thinking...

I think your PB would have to be in the pantry for several months (probably 6 or more) before it goes rancid. The "other brands" have no preservatives, just some oil to make the product more smooth. Sometimes salt and sugar for flavor.

I haven't seen the mixing sticks, but I can see that lid size would be important.

I'll have to try mixing it. I thought about using my immersion blender, but didn't want to clean up the mess if it made one!

Lana said...

Although we've tried the natural pb the kids wouldn't touch it so we get JIF. Some like it chunky others smooth so we get both and alternate.

Sarah said...

We get the natural kind -- whatever brand is on sale. b Here is the secret -- store it in the pantry upside down. I do this with pb, sunbutter, almond butter . . . whateer we hve. It really works!!

Renee said...

Here in our home I only buy natural peanut butter. The trick is stirring it really well right after opening the lid (love Sara's idea of the stir paddle). I have a son who gets this job, he's the best at it.

It's a favorite staple item here, even with the dogs in their kongs. (wink) Our children prefer smooth rather than chunky for sure.

We prefer a natural organic to regular if possible because there are severe allergies here to molds,and peanut mold can be ultra high in peanut butters. Also, pure peanut butter is pure, not filled or processed with other items such as icing sugar or other sweeteners, even cheaper/less quality nuts (piles of them are stocked in warehouses for one place local to us, mold is a problem on them which causes anaphalactic and allergies - used anyway in the processing because they say it's killed in the heating??).

We keep our in the fridge because when I used to keep it in the cupboard, it began to mold up a bit??. Maybe something contaminated entered like a licked knife...wink. We never have a problem though if it's stirred well immediately, otherwise forget it, no one will eat it.

Tami said...

I use natural pb, to avoid the sugar and salt, and I do refrigerate it. To make spreading easier, I just scoop out what I want and leave it at room temp for a few minutes - I leave the knife (really a spoon, because I measure) resting on the bread, while I busy myself with other activities, then spread. It doesn't take that long to soften.

Jamie Jo said...

Jif all the way,ever since I was a kid and forever more!

Actually, I've tried Skippy and Peter Pan and they've improved since I was a kid and they all taste pretty darn close, but Jif, I'll be a loyal fan always!

All kidding aside. I come here every day. I love your recipes and love the ideas. With your pretty hair, you are my Paula Dean!

I like the natural pB's but, like you, find them too much work. I don't think the little amount we have on toast or in sandwiches, does the sugar really matter?

You could get Jif for a treat and still use the natural stuff?

Thank you for being here every day and providing such wonderful recipes!

Mary Elizabeth said...

I prefer natural peanut butter. It is easier on my digestive tract - the regular peanut butter gives me stomach aches. In any case, I get "smuckers" brand and it works well for me. The more I can stir it the first time, the better. Then I leave it out (on top of the fridge to be precise). I have had no problems with it going bad and it spreads rather well, although it does usually need a few seconds of stirring before use. The kids like it, too.

Anonymous said...

I go to our Natural Food Market and grind the peanuts into fresh peanut butter and only buy smaller portions so it will be fresh all of the time. It keeps well and is no problem to stir either. Love your recipes and your blog! God Bless! JP

Crafty P said...

I think I may have bought natural peanut butter once. Haven't since.

As soon as I read your question though... my mind wandered back to a Bonnie Hunt show where she showed this lovely snack that she likes involving peanut butter and a banana, which you freeze. I'm a big PB on banana fan. Bonnie recommended a brand called Laura Scudder's. Try looking for it online maybe. I'm drawing a blank to that wonderful online grocery service.... anyone?

SusanE said...

Skippy Brand has a "natural" peanut butter. It does have some sugar and oil (but not hydrogenated oil), and it doesn't need to be stirred or refrigerated. It's a good enough compromise for me.

scmom (Barbara) said...

I can see why the kids prefer JIF. My kids don't seem to care (of course one is very allergic, so he's a no-vote!).

Does the oil go to the bottom when you store it upside down or does it just stay all mixed up?

Since when is peanut butter cooked? Sounds pretty suspicious!

I guess that would work -- I'm always in a rush! ;-)

JIF is what I grew up with, too! Are we products of good marketing?

Mary Elizabeth,
My husband had an elderly friend who gave credit to Smucker's peanut butter for his long life!

JP, Does it get really smooth that way or is it still grainy? I never thought about doing my own -- I bet I could use the food processor.

Crafty P,
I'll have to google it. I don't watch Bonnie's show, but I think she's so funny!

I'll check the Skippy label. A lot of them have palm oil, which is a saturated fat -- the kind I have to watch.

Liz said...

Jif, like Skippy, also has a natural peanut butter that is very smooth and doesn't separate, but it is made with palm oil. If I'm not mistaken the Skippy natural also contains palm oil. I would not think that the palm oil would be any worse than the hydrogenated oil that is in all the other peanut butters.
I found your blog last week and have enjoyed looking at all your recipes! God Bless.

Anonymous said...

I just wrote a blog post for you, Barbara, on this very subject....please see my blog and do come have tea and p.b.&j. petit fours with me soon! :)
Love You Much!!

scmom (Barbara) said...

Most natural peanut butters don't have added oil (just the peanut oil which is in peanuts and is unsaturated). You're right, palm oil is no worse than hydrogenated oil, but both are not good, especially for those trying to lower cholesterol numbers. Unfortunately not knowing exactly how much added oil is in some peanut butters is disconcerting -- could be little, could be a lot!

You are the best!

Anonymous said...

In reply to your question...Ginding my own at the natural food market works great and it is pretty dense at first but after sitting awhile seems to have it's own oil surface a bit. No problem to deal with at all but I would not favor grinding it at home in your machine for fear of burning out the motor if not powerful enough plus it would be awful to clean up after. So that is my two cents worth on peanut butter! ;) Blessins to ya!

Tami said...

Barb, I know what you mean! It's always particularly difficult when the pb is my breakfast, and I'm trying to keep myself busy doing other things....

And I should have mentioned before, I do so enjoy reading your blog! Thanks for all the hard work you put into it. :)

Renee said...

Came back to see the rest of the comments, curious you could say. :) I hear ya about heating because all my life I thought all peanut butters are made from simply grinding nuts. They were under the gun in the area though from many sudden peanut allergy attacks at the local hospital and I never followed the news story long enough to know the outcome. Two of my friend's children were affected and both many years later still carry around epi pens in their fanny pack. :(

Great new menu Barbara. Wanna come to my house and work in my kitchen some day? Would love that.

Elizabeth C. said...

I too am a daily lurker (is that a word?). I've tried, with great success, several of your recipes. So thank you, thank you...thank you.

As far as natural or not...we've done both. I ususally buy the same Trader Joe's Peanut Butter same as Sara. But when in a pinch we go with what's on sale.

Now, the husband prefers...JIF and the kids prefer grinding their own @ our local Whole Food Store. This momma prefers what is easier and available when the shopping gets done.

God bless and thanks for the chat.

scmom (Barbara) said...

Glad to know, anonymous. I checked at my health food store when I was there this week and they don't have that service, but there are so many natural peanut butters to chose from.

Yeah, Renee. I'm pretty certain peanut butter isn't cooked, so it sounds like the company was "stretching the truth." I carry an epi-pen with me all the time because of my tree nut/peanut allergy kiddo, so I know the feeling. It's why we don't eat out too often.

PS Would love to come and cook for you! That's what I'll do when I retire! ;-)

Elizabeth, I agree that what is easy for mama should be a priority! Thanks for leaving a comment. :-)

Barb, sfo said...

I have NEVER bought natural peanut butter. The way we go through PB around here, I could never afford to buy the natural kind! I buy store brand, Jif, Skippy, Peter Pan--we're not particular as long as it's the creamy kind. My kids think Wegmans store brand peanut butter is the best kind out there--better than name brands.

I don't think I'd be too keen on having to stir the PB every time I opened it. And if I'm packing PBJ sandwiches for the lunchbox, will it separate on the sandwich before the kids eat it?