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Peanut butter and jam at room temp

  • f

Is it safe for a week or so?

I want to bring something like a whole wheat bagel fresh each day but don't want to store my PB&J in the work fridge.

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  1. My mother hated cold peanut butter so she never stored hers in the fridge. She lived to her late 80s and died of something totally unrelated to pb-poisoning so I guess you're safe.
    My kids hated cold pb too so I've always just kept it on the pantry shelf. They preferred extra-crunchy whatever brand - can't even remember now.

    Jam and jelly keep fine for a long time in the pantry because of the sugar used in making it. Sugar is a natural preservative. If you're using a low-sugar brand, you might have trouble.
    My kids liked cold jelly with their room-temp pb so this was never an issue - other than having kids with very specific likes and dislikes. At least they were easy to accommodate.

    1. Peanut butter should keep as well out of the fridge as whole peanuts do. The main reason to keep it in the fridge is to stop it from separating. Jam also keeps fine out of the fridge -- it's just fruit and sugar, so your main enemy is mold.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jlafler

        And major brands like Jiff and Skippy have a bit of hydrogenated fat added to prevent separation. It's the 'natural' ones with those additions that separate at room temperature (such as when you buy it from the store).

        1. re: paulj

          Yup. We don't keep peanut butter in the house any more, since my daughter is allergic, but I only like the kind that is made of peanuts+salt.

      2. Wow. I have never stored peanut butter in my fridge. We do not go through it very quickly, unless we use it in a recipe. It has never gone bad. Please don't tell me it has to go in the fridge, there is no more room! I never even considered it.

        I keep jam in the fridge though, mostly because of all the horrific warnings in home canning instructions. Perhaps I shall reconsider this behavior. We also don't go through jam very quickly though, so I'll probably consider keeping it there. I have rarely seen mold on jam, but it has happened.

        I think it would help to avoid contamination of the jars with crumbs and stuff, so I would use clean knives every time, rather than fingers.

        15 Replies
        1. re: moh

          Really? So I 'don't' have to keep my new favorite peanut butter in the whole world, Trader Joe's creamy unsalted, in the fridge as directed by them on the jar?

          That is dangerous, though, since the time it takes me to stir it will be offset by the increased amount I eat because I like it better at room temperaturs.

          1. re: dolores

            Dolores, unfortunately I don't know this product, we have no Trader Joe's here in Montreal :(

            I can only speak about our Smooth Kraft Peanut Butter. There is no mention of "refrigerate after opening" on the container. Surprisingly, the list ingredients is not too strange: peanuts, soybean oil, maltodextrin, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, dextrose and salt. Nothing excessively chemically... Yet no spoilage.

            1. re: moh

              hydrogenated vegetable oil= trans fats , maltodextrin= food additive, dextrose= chemical form of sugar

              1. re: oaktowngirl

                Since you know all about these chemicals and additives, could you explain the differences between maltodextrin, sucrose, dextrose, and glucose? What is a non-chemical form of sugar? What does human digestion do to these chemicals? What kinds of sugar are there in jelly?

                But maybe you shouldn't since that would send this thread off in directions unrelated to frigerated PB &J.


                1. re: paulj

                  I have never refrigerated peanut butter, either the natural versions or the leading brands. I eat a lot Simply JIF, peanut butter does not require refrigeration...

                  1. re: paulj

                    Thanks, paulj. I was thinking the same thing. ;-).

                    1. re: paulj

                      sucrose = ordinary sugar (C11H22O11)
                      glucose = simple sugar (monsaccharide - C6H12O6)
                      fructose= another simple sugar, sometimes called fruit sugar (isomer of glucose?)
                      dextrose = I believe is a hydrated glucose molecule

                      there is no "non-chemical" sugar, i think oaktowngirl was discussing chemically processed sugars.

                      as far as sugar in jelly, probably a whole lot of sucrose and fructose. My grandmother and great-grandmother left homemade jelly and jam out on the table in the jam pot. No one died, and it was eaten up too fast to get moldy.

                      1. re: charlesbois

                        Chemisty wasn't ever my favorite subject but isn't this the ultimate in reductio ad absurdum?
                        Can't everything be converted to a chemical formula? Even good old H2O?
                        Sure, you can play around with other assorted sugars, but they're still sugars that can be expressed as various chemical formulas. They have all been processed in some way if only to make the jelly.

                        Why complain about maltodextrin, a simple starch made from rice, corn, potato or wheat, as a "food additive"? Horrors!!! Nobody complains that cornstarch in a homemade recipe is a terrible "food additive."
                        Almost everything we eat is processed in some way, using some "chemical" or some "process," to clean it or render it usable.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          My main problem with these additives in peanut butter is that peanut butter, IMHO, should not be sweet! I like the taste of plain peanuts and salt.

                        2. re: charlesbois

                          I think the distinction you're getting at here is monosaccharides ("simple sugars" such as glucose and fructose) vs. disaccharides (two monosaccharides bonded together). Sucrose is a disaccharide, composed of glucose and fructose molecules bonded together.

                          In our bodies, sugars and starches get broken down into glucose, which is the main kind of sugar that circulates in your bloodstream, and that cells use as fuel.

                          1. re: jlafler

                            OK, so you make a PB&J on bread.
                            You've got an assortment of monosaccharides, disaccharides, glucose, fructose, sucrose, carbohydrates, etc., spread out among the peanut butter, jelly and bread.
                            Does it really matter where they are? They all end up in your tummy together. Happy.
                            Buy good peanut butter and good jelly. Leave them on the table if you want. You won't die. Buy good bread.
                            Why is it necessary to make a Federal case out of a simple American classic?

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              I like this. Personally, I go for creamy just peanuts and salt with raspberry preserves on thick wheat bread with seeds myself. And I've packed peanut butter (both, horrors, normal and without additives) across Italy and Romania along with jam.

                              As long as you're not eating mint jelly where the green confusion might set in, you'll be fine, lol. You'll know if it's bad, it will be fuzzy.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                No need to get touchy, MS. I'm not "making a Federal case," -- I care about getting the chemistry accurate, that's all. As I've said elsewhere in this thread, I like "natural" peanut butter because I like the taste of plain peanuts and salt. I haven't said anything about "chemicals" being bad.

                                On the other hand "all food is made of chemicals" does not mean that "all chemicals are food."

                          2. re: paulj

                            I personally find most of those ingredients "strange" in peanut butter. All peanut butter should be is peanuts and possibly salt. I personally wouldn't buy peanut butter that had any of "soybean oil, maltodextrin, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, dextrose" Even if I did prefer peanut butter with added oils and sweeteners, I wouldn't want one with a cheap, low-quality oil like soybean oil, transfats and maltodextrin.

                        3. re: moh

                          Have you tried the President's Choice "Just Peanuts" brand? I really like the taste (and I prefer chunky to smooth), but you do have to refrigerate it if you don't want to see it separate.

                    2. Can someone confirm that I will NOT die a horrible death if I leave my jelly out???? I have always left the PB out cause I go thru it so fast, but I was not sure about jelly/jam. I typically buy the "all fruit" versions or "gourmet" versions of jelly, rather than the "squeeze it out of the bottle stuff". If it would last for 2/3 weeks out of the fridge, safely, I would be thrilled!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: L_W

                        Jelly and jam are considerd non-perishable items that require no refrigeration...

                      2. People ate jelly long before there were refrigerators. As a matter of fact, the stuff was invented because the sugar acts a preservative for the fruit. (Hence the alternative name, "fruit preserves.") An open jar will last longer in the fridge, but it certainly won't kill you to leave it out, so long as you observe basic food-safety principles. (e.g., don't stick a knife in the jar that you've been using to cut up raw chicken.)

                        As far as peanut butter goes, Skippy lasts forever. All-natural peanut butter, on the other hand, begins to turn rancid after a while. IMHO, you can taste a difference in quality after a month or so. But if you eat it up fairly quickly, you won't have a problem except for separation, which can be cured by storing the jar upside down (but make sure the lid's on tight--don't ask me how I know this).

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: alanbarnes

                          We don't have to ask you. But how long did it take to clean up the mess? And did it ever all come up, or is there still an oil spot there?

                          I have never refrigerated PB, and always refrigerate jelly/jam. But it's a taste preference thing, like how some folks seem to appreciate that In-N-Out refrigerates the ketchup so it is cold when they squeeze it on their burgers. BTW, is it really necessary to refrigerate ketchup?

                          1. re: johnb

                            Fortunately we have adjustable (and therefore removable) melamine kitchen shelves. And plenty of Dawn. But even after a thorough washing, some of the other items that were stored on that shelf retained a certain je ne sais quoi for a loooooong time.

                        2. PB&J don't need to be refrigerated.

                          Sure, jam will grow moldy after a while but generally is safe to eat. One thing to make sure your jam doesn't spoil -- don't stick the knife you used to spread the PB into the jam jar ...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ipsedixit


                            >>don't stick the knife you used to spread the PB into the jam jar ...

                            Is this true?


                          2. I'm not much of a jam person, and maybe as a result, i've had at least one jar go moldy in the fridge....so i'm pretty sure it doesn't make any difference if it's in the cupboard.

                            I keep my PB out on the cupboard, and i buy the unsweetened varity because a certain spoiled pup gets it regularly with her pills. Also i just prefer the taste, because i use it in my stir fries etc. The way i see it, i don't refridgerate peanuts, why would i do so with peanut butter?

                            Same goes for the jar i keep at work...it's in my drawer. Almond butters or tahini i tend to keep in the fridge just because i don't go through it as quickly.

                            I also don't tend to refridgerate my olive oil (except my $$ mushroom one), my soy sauce, worchestershire sauce..... can't speak for ketchup....rarely if ever use it.

                            I guess if you were really that concerned about it.....you could buy a bunch of those little packets of PB &J like they have in restaurants...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: im_nomad

                              ive had jam go moldy in the fridge as well, so only store them in there if you like em cold.

                              soy sauce can go either way, but ketchup i definitely keep in the fridge, but honestly, i think it's also fine either way. the only things we always refrigerate are mustard, salsas, dressings.

                              to the above poster that referenced TJ's brand pb, that and the almond butter do fine out of fridge.

                              1. re: Emme

                                Anything will go bad eventually, even in the fridge, so the fact that it went moldy in the fridge doesn't mean there's no advantage to keeping it cold. It'll last longer in the fridge than out -- but not forever.

                                Jam generally lasts pretty well out of the fridge, and if you don't like it cold, there's no reason not to keep it out. Possibly more to the point, it's not dangerous to keep jam out of the fridge; as far as food poisoning goes, with all the sugars and acids it's very low risk. If it goes moldy, you'll know.

                                So basically we agree in principle. :-)

                              2. re: im_nomad


                                Guess what's coming to the office with me tomorrow - a jar of Jiff.

                                That never occurred to me!
                                The shame!
                                In the immortal words of Pinky, "Narf!"

                              3. I'm not surprised that on CH, there's a lot of support for the natural PBs (just peanuts and salt).

                                I find that they're greasy and unpleasant tasting. I don't eat all that much PB and I don't get into the hysteria about the additives in the relatively small amount of Jif creamy I eat.

                                I like commercial PB. It's smooth, slightly sweet, peanuty, consistent, and convenient. It doesn't have that nasty peanut oil floating around.

                                Just my opinion.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: filth

                                  good opinion, by my estimation. natural peanut butters are totally grainy, greasy, and--as you say--unpleasant. how can you hate jiffy when jiffy brings the creaminess? a pox on natural peanut butters, a pox on them!

                                  1. re: beelzebozo

                                    I'm not all that crazy about natural PB, I'm a reduced fat Jif girl. Anyhow, even though I don't love natural PB, natural cashew butter is awesome. I always drain off a smidge of the oil before stirring it together to reduce the oily factor and it is so good. You might give it a shot.

                                  2. re: filth

                                    It's just a matter of taste. I like "natural" pb largely because it's what I grew up eating. To me, Jif and other stabilized pbs just taste bland and sweet -- not like peanuts.

                                    1. re: filth

                                      I'm all for all varieties.....however i do draw the line at the low-fat varieties...most of which only replace the fat with more sugar.

                                    2. I've had a jar of PB (Jif) and a jar of strawberry preserves in my office drawer for a couple of months, for my twice-weekly PB&J breakfast after working out. Both are almost empty now; before that I had a jar of natural organic PB (which separated; so I turned the jar upside down and made an oily mess...) and grape jelly. No ill effects from any of them. Though a few years ago I made peanut soup out of some PB that had been in the pantry for ... who knows how long, which turned out to be rancid, and I didn't notice until it was time to serve the soup for Thanksgiving dinner (I was too busy to taste beforehand...). My GF was the first to taste it; the guests asked about it, and she said, very diplomatically, 'Don't take very much...' Point being, it lasts quite a while but not forever.

                                      And I use the same knife for the PB and jelly, too.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: Bat Guano

                                        >>And I use the same knife for the PB and jelly, too.

                                        Okay, cool, good to know Bat Guano.

                                        filth, until I tried Trader Joe's creamy, I liked my JIF perfectly well. Still do. But try the TJ, as a decadent treat. After you mix the TJ, it stays mixed. I've refrigerated it and it's creamy enough to pour from the spoon. Which has been dipped in the strawberry preserves.

                                        Thank you, Mr. Carver. Thank you.

                                        1. re: dolores

                                          Jiff is the best. I have been eating Simply Jiff for the past few years and recently my wife accidently bought a jar of regular, creamy Jiff and I could not believe how sweet it was, it reminded me of Peter Pan. Simply Jiff is the best of the commercial brands as far as true peanut does applies...

                                          1. re: Sean

                                            Sean, is Simply Jiff closer to 'natural' than regular Jiff? I'll have to try it.

                                            1. re: dolores

                                              It is 1/3 less sugar and 1/3 less salt, everthing else is the same but it has a very nutty flavor with the removal of that amount of sugar.

                                              1. re: Sean

                                                Tried it, Sean. I still have to say that the reigning winner with me is....JIF, creamy.

                                                And in second place, Trader Joe's PB, creamy.

                                              2. re: dolores

                                                Simply Jif Ingredients:
                                                Roasted peanuts. Contains 2% or less of: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (soybean), fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono- and diglycerides, molasses, sugar and salt.

                                                Creamy Jif Ingredients:
                                                Roasted peanuts and sugar. Contains 2% or less of: molasses, partially hydrogenated vegetable (soybean), fully hydrogenated vegetable oils (rapeseed and soybean), mono- and diglycerides and salt.

                                          2. re: Bat Guano

                                            I somehow grew into a mild peanut allergy, so I am now stuck with the natural variety unless I want to induce incredible stomach pain. After keeping a jar at work for a PB and J lab at the beginning of the year, I decided to make a sandwich with it since I had forgotten one, wow can PB go bad. My students even questioned me when they came in from lunch whether it was still good! I guess we aren't the only ones having this discussion. Good news, the jam was still tasty.

                                          3. I am surprised no one has mentioned honey as a shelf-stable alternative to jam/jelly. I love peanut butter and honey sandwiches, preferably local honey. I eat them several times a week.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Aimi

                                              or fluff !!! i'm thinking that stuff will be found in jars a thousand years from now :) but it's mighty good. now that's something i haven't had in years....a fluffer nutter.

                                              On the rare occasions i make a sandwich from PB....it goes with raisins, or banana. I usually smear it on my apples at work.

                                            2. I keep my PB in the cupboard and my preserves in the fridge. I don't like PB cold and go through it fast enough (sometimes straight off the spoon). The preserves always take longer to get through and I like them cold on warm toast with butter. And I always use the same knife. I hate using more utensils or dishes than necessary. (In fact, I put ice cream in the same bowl from which I ate my minestrone tonight. Same spoon too. No rinsing or nuthin').

                                              1. In my house, the jam stays in the fridge, especially as it's usually a lower-sugar variety and can mold fatster, and I don't get through it super fast. I also don't eat peanut butter all the time, so my natural peanut butter is usually stored in the fridge. It does harden up, and I'm not crazy about cold PB, so I just put the whole jar in the microwave (sans top) for around 20 seconds to soften the PB and warm it up a bit.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                  And Caitlin McGrath, doesn't it drive you crazy when you can't get all the foil off the top of the jar, no matter how hard you try, so you can't put the jar in the microwave?


                                                  Thanks Sean, I'll have to try it. I usually shy away from anything that says 'less sugar'. I love the story here about the lumberjack who ate a bag of sugar for lunch.

                                                  Thanks, thirtysomething. Jif is on sale this week, if Simply Jif is included, I'll buy one of each and have a very happy dog. Yeah, that's it, the dog.

                                                2. I'd say of course it is... as long as it's not mouldy, it's fine. We always used to keep the peanut butter in the pantry instead of the fridge because it was easier to spread, and tons of people keep their jam in the cupboard.

                                                  1. jfood normally takes some heat on these boards for his conservatism, but he has never kept his PB in the fridge (just had a tad on some bread) and taking a pbj sandwich to work would always be kept on the desk, never in the fridge.

                                                    no problem in jfood's opinion.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      Jay, I readily admit I couldn't pick you out in a police line up at high noon, but somehow the mental picture of you sitting at an immaculately ordered desk with a pbj in a zip lock bag amid the order made me grin. Unimaginable! '-)

                                                      1. re: Caroline1


                                                        Thank you. Once that image is past think of him sinking watching Top Chef with a PB sandwich in one hand and scratching mrs jfood's back with the other.

                                                        It's the small things that make the difference.

                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                          The way I see the food on this season's TC, pb&j is a step up! Never thought I'd say it, but I'm beginning to miss Hung's sous vide.

                                                    2. I think it's been well established by now that peanut butter needs no refrigeration unless you have a morbid penchant for holes in your bread so the jelly can seep through and ooze down your wrist. If Whole Foods says to refrigerate theirs, I suspect it's for legal reasons, not to prevent spoilage.

                                                      Jelly, jam and preserves, on the other hand, are a different matter. *IF* we're talking about the old fashioned "fruit, sugar and pectin" type of jams and such, then even though it may say "Refrigerate after opening" on the label, truth is sugar is a preservative (ever heard of sugar cured ham?) and these traditional preparations shouldn't be a problem when kept in the cupboard instead of the fridge. But...! If it is a reduced calorie or sugar free peparation, in the fridge it goes!