Peanut butter is a food paste or spread made from ground, dry-roasted peanuts. It commonly contains additional ingredients that modify the taste or texture, such as salt, sweeteners, or emulsifiers. Peanut butter is consumed in many countries. The United States is a leading exporter of peanut butter and one of the largest consumers of peanut butter annually per capita. January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day in the United States.
|Ingredients generally used||Salt, sweeteners, and/or emulsifiers|
|588 kcal (2462 kJ)|
|Similar dishes||Nut butter|
Peanut butter is a nutrient-rich food containing high levels of protein, several vitamins, and dietary minerals. It is typically served as a spread on bread, toast, or crackers, and used to make sandwiches (notably the peanut butter and jelly sandwich). It is also used in a number of breakfast dishes and desserts, such as peanut-flavored granola, smoothies, crepes, cookies, brownies, or croissants. It is similar to other nut butters such as cashew butter and almond butter.
As the US National Peanut Board confirms, "Contrary to popular belief, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter." Carver was given credit in popular folklore for many inventions that did not come out of his lab. By the time Carver published his document about peanuts, entitled "How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it For Human Consumption" in 1916, many methods of preparation of peanut butter had already been developed or patented by various pharmacists, doctors, and food scientists working in the US and Canada.
A related dish named "pinda-käse" (peanut cheese) existed in Suriname by 1783. This was more solid than modern peanut butter, and could be cut and served in slices like cheese. Pinda bravoe, a soup-like peanut based dish, also existed in Suriname around that time. Modern peanut butter is still referred to as "pindakaas" (peanut cheese) in Dutch for this reason, Suriname having been a Dutch colony at that time. When peanut butter was brought onto the market in the Netherlands by Calvé in 1948 , it was not allowed to do so under the name "peanut butter". The name "butter" was specifically defined for real butter, to avoid confusion with margarine.
While the earliest example of grinding peanuts into paste has been traced to the Aztecs and Incas, the US National Peanut Board credits three modern inventors with the earliest patents related to the production of modern peanut butter.
Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, obtained a patent for a method of producing peanut butter from roasted peanuts using heated surfaces in 1884. Edson's cooled product had "a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment" according to his patent application which described a process of milling roasted peanuts until the peanuts reached "a fluid or semi-fluid state". He mixed sugar into the paste to harden its consistency.
John Harvey Kellogg, known for his line of prepared breakfast cereals, was an advocate of using plant foods as a healthier dietary choice rather than meat. He was issued a patent for a "Process of Producing Alimentary Products" in 1898, and used peanuts, although he boiled the peanuts rather than roasting them. Kellogg's Western Health Reform Institute served peanut butter to patients because they needed a food that contained a lot of protein that could be eaten without chewing. At first, peanut butter was a food for wealthy people, as it became popular initially as a product served at expensive health care institutes.
Early peanut-butter-making machines were developed by Joseph Lambert, who had worked at John Harvey Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanatorium, and Dr. Ambrose Straub who obtained a patent for a peanut-butter-making machine in 1903.
By 1917, American consumers used peanut products during periods of meat rationing, with government promotions of "meatless Mondays" when peanut butter was a favored choice.
"In 1922, chemist Joseph Rosefield invented a process for making smooth peanut butter that kept the oil from separating by using partially hydrogenated oil; Rosefield "...licensed his invention to the company that created Peter Pan peanut butter" in 1928 and in "...1932 he began producing his own peanut butter under the name Skippy". Under the Skippy brand, Rosefield developed a new method of churning creamy peanut butter, giving it a smoother consistency. He also mixed fragments of peanut into peanut butter, creating the first "chunky"-style peanut butter. In 1955, Procter & Gamble launched a peanut butter named Jif, which was sweeter than other brands, due to the use of "sugar and molasses" in its recipe. A slang term for peanut butter in World War II was "monkey butter".
In South Africa, one of the countries where peanut butter is produced and consumed, the first peanut butter was produced in 1926 by Alderton Limited in Mokopane (then Potgietersrus), presumably under the brand name Black Cat. The product was proving so popular that Tiger Brands (then Tiger Oats Company) took over the manufacturing of Black Cat. They are still producing peanut butter under the brand name Black Cat. In Afrikaans, "grondboontjiebotter" (peanut butter) is also colloquially called "katjiebotter" (kitten butter); it is undetermined if Black Cat is the basis for the latter name.
Types and labeling
The two main types of peanut butter are crunchy (or chunky) and smooth (or creamy). In crunchy peanut butter, some coarsely-ground peanut fragments are included to give extra texture. Sometimes the texture is emphasized in marketing with words like "Super Chunk" or "Extra Crunchy". The peanuts in smooth peanut butter are ground uniformly, creating a homogenous spread like butter.
In the US, food regulations require that any product labelled "peanut butter" must contain at least 90% peanuts; the remaining <10% usually consists of "...salt, a sweetener, and an emulsifier or hardened vegetable oil which prevents the peanut oil from separating". In the US, no product labelled as "peanut butter" can contain "artificial sweeteners, chemical preservatives, [or] natural or artificial coloring additives." Some brands of peanut butter are sold without emulsifiers that bind the peanut oils with the peanut paste, and so require stirring after separation. Most major brands of peanut butter add white sugar, but there are others that use dried cane syrup, agave syrup, or coconut palm sugar.
Artisan peanut butter
Organic and artisanal peanut butters are available, but their markets are small. Artisan peanut butter is usually preservative-free, additive-free, and handmade in a cottage industry-style setup. Jesse Frank Ford of Arrowhead Mills in 1970 became one of the first producers to start making peanut butter with organically grown Valencia peanuts. Ford's goal was to grow peanuts by sustainable means, without pesticides, and without mass-grinding grains. Since Arrowhead Mills was sold to the Hain Celestial Group in 1999, the peanut butter has been reported to be no different to other peanut butter companies' products.
Planting and harvesting
Due to weather conditions, peanuts are usually planted in spring. The peanut comes from a yellow flower that bends over and infiltrates the soil after blooming and wilting, and the peanut starts to grow in the soil. Peanuts are harvested from late August to October, while the weather is clear. This weather allows for dry soil so that when picked, the soil does not stick to the stems and pods. The peanuts are then removed from vines and transported to a peanut shelling machine for mechanical drying. After cropping, the peanuts are delivered to warehouses for cleaning, where they are stored unshelled in silos.
Shelling must be conducted carefully lest the seeds are damaged during the removal of the shell. The moisture of the unshelled peanuts is controlled to avoid excessive frangibility of the shells and kernels, which in turn, reduces the amount of dust present in the plant. After, the peanuts are sent to a series of rollers set specifically for the batch of peanuts, where they are cracked. After cracking, the peanuts go through a screening process where they are inspected for contaminants.
The dry roasting process employs either the batch or continuous method. In the batch method, peanuts are heated in large quantities in a revolving oven at about 800 °F (430 °C). Next, the peanuts in each batch are uniformly held and roasted in the oven at 320 °F (160 °C) for about 40 to 60 minutes. This method is good to use when the peanuts differ in moisture content. In the continuous method, a hot air roaster is employed. The peanuts pass through the roaster whilst being rocked to permit even roasting. A photometer indicates the completion of dry roasting. This method is favored by large manufacturers since it can lower the rate of spoilage and requires less labor.
After dry roasting, peanuts are removed from the oven as quickly as possible and directly placed in a blower-cooler cylinder. There are suction fans in the metal cylinder that can pull a large volume of air through, so the peanuts can be cooled more efficiently. The peanuts will not be dried out because cooling can help retain some oil and moisture. The cooling process is completed when the temperature in the cylinder reaches 86 °F (30 °C).
After the kernels have been cooled down, the peanuts will undergo either heat blanching or water blanching to remove the remaining seed coats. Compared to heat blanching, water blanching is a new process. Water blanching first appeared in 1949.
Peanuts are heated by hot air at 280 °F (138 °C) for not more than 20 minutes in order to soften and split the skins. After that, the peanuts are exposed to continuous steam in a blanching machine. The skins are then removed using either bristles or soft rubber belts. After that, these skins are separated and blown into waste bags. Meanwhile, the hearts of peanuts are segregated through inspection.
After the kernels are arranged in troughs, the skin of the kernel is cracked on opposite sides by rolling it through sharp stationary blades. While the skins are removed, the kernels are brought through a one-minute hot water bath and placed on a swinging pad with canvas on top. The swinging action of the pad rubs off the skins. Afterward, the blanched kernels are dried for at least six hours by hot air at 120 °F (49 °C).
After blanching, the peanuts are screened and inspected to eliminate the burnt and rotten peanuts. A blower is also used to remove light peanuts and discolored peanuts are removed using a color sorting machine.
After blanching the peanuts are sent to grinding to be manufactured into peanut butter. The peanuts are then sent through two sizes of grinders. The first grinder produces a medium grind, and the second produces a fine grind. At this point, salt, sugar and a vegetable oil stabilizer are added to the fine grind to produce the peanut butter. This adds flavor and allows the peanut butter to stay as a homogeneous mixture. Chopped peanuts may also be added at this stage to produce “chunky” peanut butter.
Before packaging, the peanut butter must first be cooled in order to be sealed in jars. The mixture is pumped into a heat exchanger in order to cool it to about 120 °F (49 °C). Once cool, the peanut butter is pumped into jars and vacuum-sealed, a process which removes air and deoxygenates the peanut butter to inhibit its oxidation. The jars are then labeled and set aside until crystallization occurs. The peanut butter jars are then packaged into cartons distributed to retailers, where they are stored at room temperature and sold to consumers.
A 2012 article stated that "China and India are the first and second-largest producers, respectively", of peanuts. The United States of America "...is the third-largest producer of peanuts (Georgia and Texas are the two major peanut-producing states)" and "more than half of the American peanut crop goes into making peanut butter."
According to Jon Krampner’s 2013 book on peanut butter, per capita consumption of peanut butter in Canada and the Netherlands – the largest consumer per capita in Europe – exceeded that in the United States. In March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, retail sales of peanut butter in the United States increased by 75% over the level in March 2019.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||597 kcal (2,500 kJ)|
|Dietary fiber||4.8 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.|
In a 100 gram amount, smooth peanut butter supplies 597 Calories and is composed of 51% fat, 22% protein, 22% carbohydrates (including 5% dietary fiber), and 1% water (table). Both crunchy and smooth peanut butter are sources of saturated and monounsaturated fats (mainly oleic acid) as 25% of total serving amount, and polyunsaturated fat (12% of total), primarily as linoleic acid).
Peanut butter is a rich source (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of dietary fiber, vitamin E, pantothenic acid, folate, niacin, and vitamin B6 (table, USDA FoodData Central). Also high in content are the dietary minerals manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and sodium (added as salt during manufacturing). Peanut butter is a moderate source (10–19% DV) of thiamin, riboflavin, iron, and potassium (table).
For people with a peanut allergy, peanut butter can cause a variety of possible allergic reactions, including life-threatening anaphylaxis. This potential effect has led to banning peanut butter, among other common foods, in some schools.
- Shortness of breath
- Tightening of the throat
- Skin reactions such as hives and swelling
- Digestive problems
As an ingredient
Peanut butter is included as an ingredient in many recipes: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter cookies, and candies where peanut is the main flavor, such as Reese's Pieces, or various peanut butter and chocolate treats, such as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and the Crispy Crunch candy bar.
Peanut butter's flavor combines well with other flavors, such as oatmeal, cheese, cured meats, savory sauces, and various types of breads and crackers. The creamy or crunchy, fatty, salty taste pairs very well with complementary soft and sweet ingredients like fruit preserves, bananas, apples, and honey. The taste can also be enhanced by similarly salty things like bacon (see Peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich), especially if the peanut butter has added sweetness.
One snack for children is called "ants on a log", with a celery stick acting as the "log". The groove in the celery stick is filled with peanut butter and raisins arranged in a row along the top are "ants".
Plumpy'nut is a peanut butter-based food used to fight malnutrition in famine-stricken countries. A single pack contains 500 calories, can be stored unrefrigerated for 2 years, and requires no cooking or preparation.
As animal food
Peanut butter inside a hollow chew toy is a method to occupy a dog with a favored treat. A common outdoor bird feeder is a coating of peanut butter on a pine cone with an overlying layer of birdseed.
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