"Smooth" peanut butter in a jar
Peanut butter is a food paste made primarily from ground dry roasted peanut, actually a legume and not a nut, and is popular in North America, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia and parts of Asia, particularly the Philippines and Indonesia. It is mainly used as a sandwich spread, sometimes in combination with other spreads such as jam, chocolate (in various forms), vegetables or cheese. The United States is a leading exporter of peanut butter. Nuts are also prepared comparably as nut butters.
Cultivated peanuts are native to the eastern foothills of the Bolivian Andes. The origin of peanut butter can be traced back to the Aztecs, who ground roasted peanuts into a paste. A number of peanut paste products have been used over the centuries and the distinction between peanut paste and peanut butter is not always clear in ordinary use. Modern processing machines allow for very smooth products to be made, which often include vegetable oils to aid in its spreadability.
Canadian Marcellus Gilmore Edson (February 7, 1849 - March 6, 1940) of Montreal, Quebec was the first to patent peanut butter, in 1884. Peanut flour already existed. His cooled product had "a consistency like that of butter, lard, or ointment" according to his patent application. He included the mixing of sugar into the paste so as to harden its consistency.
Edson, a chemist (pharmacist), developed the idea of peanut paste as a delicious and nutritious foodstuff for people who could hardly chew on solid food, a not uncommon state back in those days. Peanut paste was initially sold for six cents per pound.
John Harvey Kellogg patented a "Process of Preparing Nut Meal" in 1895 and used peanuts, although he boiled the peanuts rather than roasting them. Kellogg served peanut butter to the patients at his Battle Creek Sanitarium. Other makers of modern peanut butter include George Bayle, a snack-food maker in St. Louis, Missouri, who was making peanut butter with roasted peanuts as early as 1894, and George Washington Carver, who is often mistakenly credited as the inventor due to his extensive work in cultivating peanut crops and disseminating recipes.
Early peanut-butter-making machines were developed by Joseph Lambert, who had worked at John Harvey Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium, and Ambrose Straub.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||2,462 kJ (588 kcal)|
|- Starch||4.8 g|
|- Sugars||9.2 g|
|- Dietary fiber||6 g|
|Sodium||0 mg (0%)|
|Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Crunchy/chunky vs. smooth
Both crunchy/chunky and smooth peanut butter are good sources of unsaturated fats. However, crunchy/chunky peanut butter has slightly more unsaturated and less saturated fat than smooth. Smooth peanut butter doesn't have as much fiber in it as crunchy/chunky.
Peanuts, being about half oil, are half fat. Peanut oil is about one-half monounsaturated fats and one-third polyunsaturated fats, with the remaining 15 percent saturated fats. Peanut butter also contains saturated fat and some sodium. Peanut butter provides protein, vitamins B3 and E, magnesium, folate, dietary fiber, resveratrol arginine, and high levels of the antioxidant p-coumaric acid.
For people with a peanut allergy, peanut butter can cause severe reactions, including anaphylactic shock, which can lead to death if not treated immediately. This has led to its being banned in some schools.
The peanut plant is susceptible to the mold Aspergillus flavus which produces a carcinogenic substance called aflatoxin. Since it is impossible to completely remove all aflatoxin, contamination of peanuts and peanut butter is monitored in many countries to ensure safe levels of this carcinogen. In 1990, a study showed that average American peanut butter contained an average of 5.7 parts per billion of aflatoxins, well below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limit of 20 parts per billion.
Hydrogenated peanut butter contains a small amount of hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are high in saturated fats, thought to be a cause of atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease and stroke; these oils are added to prevent the peanut oil from separating from the ground peanuts. Peanuts and natural peanut butter, i.e., ground, dry roasted peanuts without added oils, do not contain hydrogenated oils or trans fats. A U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) survey of commercial peanut butters in the U.S. showed that trans fats were undetectable, i.e., below the detection limit of 0.01% of the sample weight.
Some commercial peanut butters advertised as "natural" are actually stabilized with palm oil, which provides the same benefit of emulsion. But to call this "natural" is a stretch: as former Skippy plant manager Frank Delfino has observed, "That may be natural someplace, but it's not natural in nature." A 2006 study supported by the National Institutes of Health and the USDA Agricultural Research Service concluded that palm oil is not a safe substitute for hydrogenated oils, because palm oil is highly saturated, causing adverse changes in the blood concentrations of LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B just as trans fat does. A 2011 analysis of 23 countries showed that for each kilogram of palm oil added to the diet annually, there was an increase in ischemic heart disease deaths. The increase was much smaller in high-income countries.
When it is stored in unsanitary conditions, peanut butter can harbor Salmonella and cause salmonellosis, as in the Salmonella outbreak in the United States in 2007. In 2009, due to mishandling and possible criminal negligence at Peanut Corporation of America factories in Blakely, Georgia and Plainview, Texas, Salmonella was found in 46 states in peanut-butter-based products such as crackers, peanut-butter cookies, and dog treats. It had claimed at least nine human lives as of 17 March 2009[update] and made at least 691 people sick in the United States.
Peanut butter is included as an ingredient in many recipes, especially cookies and candies. Its flavor combines well with other flavors, such as chocolate, oatmeal, cheese, cured meats, savory sauces, and various types of breads and crackers.
Peanut Butter is known to work well combined with other things, such as jelly (As the American peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which also extends to jam), banana, sambal, pickles, mayonnaise, olives, onion, horseradish, chocolate chips, bacon, honey, Marmite, or Vegemite in a sandwich. Elvis is said to have liked sandwiches made with peanut butter, banana and bacon while Hemingway is said to have liked thick onion slices in a peanut butter sandwich.
A flavorful, appealing snack for children is called "Ants on a Log"; a celery stick is the "log", and raisins arranged in a row along a base of peanut butter are the "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.
By placing a medium amount of peanut butter inside the opening of a hollow sturdy chew toy, it is easy to create a toy that will keep a dog occupied for as long as an hour. Most dogs enjoy the challenge of reaching the peanut butter with their tongue and extracting it.
In the Netherlands peanut butter is called pindakaas (peanut cheese) rather than pindaboter (peanut butter) because the word butter is only supposed to be used with products that contain actual butter.
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Hazelnut butter
- List of butters
- Sesame butter
- Sunflower butter
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
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- The National Peanut Board
- The federal "Peanut Butter Law" in the U.S.
- The USDA's Commercial Item Description for peanut butter and peanut spread (PDF) (Last accessed 3 September 2008)
- How Products are Made: Volume 1: Peanut Butter (Last accessed 16 October 2009)