I have a strong suspicion that humans subconsciously don’t do things because of the things that come after the things. Examples: 1) not going running because you don’t really want to take a shower; 2) not getting out the play dough because you don’t want to vacuum; 3) not cooking because you don’t want to do the dishes. And the big one: not buying natural peanut butter because you really, really don’t want to stir it up. Something about stirring peanut butter really gets people, which is why on a lot of jars it screams “NO STIR!” all over the label. I get it, the oil drips everywhere and you can never get the spoon all the way down the jar and its basically 5 minutes of wasted time as your toast gets cold. However. However. Let’s chat about why some peanut butters are “NO STIR!”.
When a peanut butter is “natural”, the only ingredients listed on the nutrition label should be “peanuts” and possibly “salt”. If your peanut butter is “NO STIR!”, it has some oils added in to keep the texture stable. Regular old Jif and Skippy use hydrogenated vegetable oils (such as rapeseed (canola) or soybean). What this basically means is they take these cheap liquid oils and bombard them with hydrogen atoms until they change their molecular structure and become spreadable solids. Some people think this is no big deal, but I would like to see you do this in your kitchen. Oh, you have a half a jar of hydrogen atoms in your refrigerator? How nice! Regardless of whether or not these hydrogenated oils are harmful, which many experts agree that they are, this is an extreme example of processed food for the sake of making the jars look good and last for decades on the shelves at Walmart.
After they have it out with the oils, they decide to dump a bunch of sugar in too, just for good measure. Peanuts are naturally sweet! Peanut butter with nothing added is so sweet it feels like a treat when you are licking it off a spoon. A little sugar is fine in everyday life now and then, but let’s not waste it on peanut butter.
After everyone became aware and afraid of the trans-fats and saturated fats in our foods, some health food companies jumped on the “peanut butter with palm oil” bandwagon. Palm oil is unique in that it is semi-solid at room temperature, similar to coconut oil, so it doesn’t need to be hydrogenated. However, palm oil farms have been put through the ringer for having unsustainable farming practices, being a huge destroyer of rain forests and wildlife, and a big contributor to climate change. Not necessary, so let’s leave the palm oil where it belongs.
The next big problem with peanut butter? Most brands are not organic. Trust me when I tell you that I do not buy organic everything, but I do try and pick out what is important, and I think peanut butter is important. Peanuts are very heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungicides because they are susceptible to mold. If you eat a lot of peanut butter in your house, you may want to think this through.
In a perfect world, I would make my own peanut butter. In my world, however, I don’t think I could keep up. I also have not found a good source for buying whole organic unsalted peanuts, as neither my local Whole Foods or Earth Fare grocery stores sells them in bulk. I have thought about ordering them online, but my family goes through peanut butter so quickly I feel like I would be doing it as a part time job. Plus, I love Trader Joe’s Organic Valencia Peanut Butter, and the price is reasonable too. Yes, I buy about 3 jars every single time I am in the store. I make all of my own almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower butter, etc. so I give myself a free pass with the peanut butter.
Ok, back to the stirring problem. I solved it. I take 3 jars of unstirred peanut butter at a time, open them, and dump them into my food processor. Then, I turn it on for about 30 seconds. Perfectly stirred, creamy peanut butter. I then scrape all of this into a large glass jar which keeps me in perfect peanut butter for about a week. Seriously, it goes fast. It doesn’t really matter what size jar you use, but make sure you measure out your storage jar ounces and the ounces in the jars of peanut butter you are using or you may end up eating peanut butter that didn’t fit straight out of the food processor with a spoon, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean it didn’t fit in the jar!
Here is another good tip: after you get your peanut butter all stirred up nice, store it in the refrigerator! This will prevent the oil from separating again. No, it doesn’t turn your peanut butter rock hard and impossible to spread, I promise. You just went through all the work to get it perfect, so let’s keep it that way.
Wow, who knew there was so much to write about peanut butter? Now go cook up some of my raspberry chia seed jam, you are going to need it.