Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peanut... Peanut Butter... and JELLY

Ok, I have always loved loved loved Peanut Butter. In our house, Kraft Peanut Butter (I think until recently was a very Canadian thing) was THE PB to have. Yep I was a PB and jam sandwich kinda child. Did you know that George Washington Carver was not in fact the first to invent Peanut Butter? Nope the Aztecs invented this yummy paste hundreds of years ago. (wiki).

I just assumed that's all there was in Peanut Butter... peanuts. It took a guy in Montréal to plant a little seed of 'maybe I should be rethinking my choice in peanut butter'. A little bit on the health-obsessed side, he only ever ate 100% natural peanut butter. Why does that matter?

Ingredients in mainstream 'peanut butter' (taken from Jif, since Kraft doesn't appear to post their ingredients online):
  • Roasted Peanuts
  • Sugar
  • Molasses
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed or soybean)
  • mono and diglycerides
  • salt
I would say a bit more than just peanuts eh? The hydrogenated oils are used in order to make sure the peanut oils don't separate in the jar. Hydrogenated oils are high in trans fatty acids. I'm also not really a fan of something with the second ingredient being refined sugar (for the health aspects as well as the fact the sugar is cultivated using slave labour and ridiculously terrible environmental practices). And really, molasses??

Another aspect to consider is the packaging- most PB comes in plastic. And I really really hate cleaning them out. Ick.

So- 100% natural peanut butter it was. Honestly? The first few jars were an adjustment. I was used to the sweet sugary peanut butter taste. I had to get used to stirring my PB with a butter knife upon opening. It took a few jars to figure out that the better I stirred it that very first time, the less likely it was going to get all weird and hard at the very bottom of the jar. Eventually, though I started to really enjoy the flavour of actual peanuts. And now 'mainstream' PB just tastes weirdly sweet.

Moving to Nova Scotia resulted in experimenting with several different brands of natural peanut butter before finding one that tasted the best. That brand? Naturally Nutty. It's made in Kentville Nova Scotia (about an hour and a half from Halifax) and is certified organic. Packaged in a beautiful glass jar it contains *only* certified organic peanuts. WOO!

Of course you could make your own 'nut butter' as a few colleagues of mine in Vernon BC used to do. From what I can gather, you need a food processor (we don't have one), it's best to shell them yourself and skins on is better than skins off. (check out this post for a straightforward how-to). I say very very cool!

Nothing better than natural peanut butter on homemade bread :)


article and photograph copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Yes, the weirdness in mainstream peanut butter TASTES SO GOOD : ) but is scary, indeed. I feel like I had to make that taste transition when I switched to almond butter from peanut butter. Sometimes I sneak into the peanut butter jar (100% peanuts, of course) but try to mostly eat almond butter. I don't even know why, I guess I always thought almonds were more healthy.

    Is this my first comment on your blog? I believe so...nice to meet you! I really enjoy your posts.

  2. Jif and friends also usually have corn syrup in their PB! :(

    Safeway/Kroger makes a pretty good organic peanut butter, but I like Maranatha's pre-stirred organic PB the best if I had to buy prepackaged. However the fresh ground stuff that I can get in bulk? NUMMY!

  3. Did you know the Kraft family was originally from Canada before they eventually settled in Chicago?

    Just a strange bit of Monday trivia...

    Anyway, I don't eat PB, but after several years I reluctantly let the Husband have it in the house. My condition was it could only be natural. It IS facinating how much crap can still be found in "natural" brands.

    We also had to try several brands before he found one that tasted right but met my nutritional requirements. He also doesn't like 'crunchy' PB, it has to be creamy.

    Sorry, I don't remember the brand we ended up with, we buy it so infrequently and, like I said, I won't touch the stuff.

  4. I have not had "mainstream" peanut butter in so many years - probably since I left my parents' home- that I don't even recall what it tastes like. But I eat a lot of peanut butter (and nut butters) so I know there are many options. Some natural peanut butters stay mixed better than others. One way to help it stay mixed is to stir it REALLY well when you get it, and then store it in the fridge. Of course it's not as soft that way. The ones that contain salt also stay mixed better, if you like salt. The best way to find one is to experiment by buying different brands. But there are a number of grocery stores, from Whole Foods (I'm in the U.S.) to conventional stores, where you can grind your own peanuts right in the store, so you know it contains only peanuts. My husband eats a ton of peanut butter, and this is his preferred form. And if you like it a bit sweet, you can stir in some honey or cane syrup and make it as sweet as you like.

  5. I had the same peanut butter experience! Now it's all-natural, glass jar, all the time, then wash the jar out and freeze leftover soup in it. :)

  6. We were like you ... used to buy mainstream PB until we developed a love for the natural stuff. Now anything less just doesn't do it! In the winter, I sometimes make little peanut butter balls for the squirrels (they have baby cereal, oatmeal and PB). The mainstream PB isn't good for them but the natural stuff is healthy! Yay! Here's a tip ... after stirring the PB the first time, store it upside down in the refrigerator. Helps to keep everything mixed up.

    Btw ... you're in the Honor Society on my blog tomorrow so ... if you have a chance, please stop in.



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