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Apr 26, 2008 09:27 AM

Peanut butter and jam at room temp

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.