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What's up with cheap peanut butters?

aynrandgirl Feb 28, 2011 11:45 PM

When I buy the cheapest peanut butters I can only describe their texture and mouth feel as ... stiff. Thick. More difficult to swallow. And not the least bit oily. Generally, displeasing in texture and flavor. By comparison a brand like Jif has a much smoother, more velvety texture that isn't super thick and goes down easier. It also retains a bit of the natural oiliness from the peanuts. Why the difference?

  1. b
    beevod Mar 2, 2011 06:09 AM

    I grind mine at Whole Foods....excellent stuff

    1. ipsedixit Mar 1, 2011 07:49 PM

      I'm too tired and lazy right now to look it up, but I believe in the US it is required by law that peanut butter be made from at least 90% peanuts to be labled "peanut butter". The rest are sweeteners, salt and stabilizers. Some "all natural" peanut butters have no stabilizers to prevent the oil from separating.

      Part of the problem with cheaper peanut butters is that they may be using inferior peanuts, or roasting them improperly -- i.e., not cooling the freshly roasted peanuts fast enough or not using a two-stage grinding process.

      1. s
        sueatmo Mar 1, 2011 03:53 PM

        You can google the brand name and probably find the ingredient lists for any peanut butter you are interested in. The nutrition labels are very often available. If you compare ingredients you will probably find the answer. I recommend Smucker's all natural peanut butter. The only ingredients are peanuts and salt. There are other all natural peanut butters available. Why pay for extra ingredients, such as HFCS or soybeen oil?

        11 Replies
        1. re: sueatmo
          Chemicalkinetics Mar 1, 2011 04:19 PM

          I bought Smuker's all natural peanut butter too. Great stuff. Recently, I am buying Crazy Richard's 100% Natural peanut butter. The ingredient is even simpler. You guess it, just peanuts -- not even salt. I was going to take a photo, but someone else already has, so here:


          Just for clarity, I love both Smucker's and Crazy Richard's. I won't say one is better than another really.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            KaimukiMan Mar 1, 2011 05:12 PM

            I recently bought Jiff Natural, and was surprised to notice that it is made by Smuckers. Never realized that before. I was even more surprised when I read the ingredient list and saw Palm Oil. I guess it's still natural, but not what I expected to see.

            1. re: KaimukiMan
              Chemicalkinetics Mar 1, 2011 05:18 PM

              Interesting. I have a questions, maybe you can help me out.

              I would think that grinding peanuts alone will release enough oil for peanuts butter. I have ground peanuts for my Indian foods, so I know they can turn into peanut butter-like. So why add palm oil? Or was the peanut oil removed (for sale) and add palm oil for substitution?

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                MinkeyMonkey Mar 1, 2011 05:32 PM

                I don't actually know for sure but I think the reason they replace the peanut's natural oil with hydrogenated oils or palm oil is that the natural oil separates and rises to the top of the jar. If they take that out and add some other oil, it stays mixed. I could be wrong as there could be some other process involved.

                Also, peanut oil is sold separately and seems to cost a lot, at least it does where I live in Colorado. Since palm oil is cheaper, they can make a profit off of both the peanuts for peanut butter and the peanut oil, sold as cooking oil.

                1. re: MinkeyMonkey
                  Chemicalkinetics Mar 1, 2011 05:35 PM

                  Yeah, peanut oil dose worth a lot.... I was suspecting that maybe the reason, but like you, I am not sure.

                2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  scubadoo97 Mar 1, 2011 05:54 PM

                  Hydrogenated oils keep the oil mixed in so the PB is very smooth and as you already know it doesn't separate.

              2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                goodhealthgourmet Mar 1, 2011 08:09 PM

                Crazy Richard's kicks ass. i wish we could get it out here in CA.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                  Chemicalkinetics Mar 2, 2011 05:41 AM

                  Yeah, I love Crazy Richard's, but I bet, in California, you can get the more "mom and pop/homemade" peanut butters instead of industrial large scale ones. This is not to say homemade ones are always better, but definitely more varieties.

                  P.S.: I pretty much grew up in Bay Area, California. I miss it.

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    goodhealthgourmet Mar 2, 2011 08:54 AM

                    you'd think that, but no - small-batch/artisan nut butters aren't common around here, most likely because they're so costly to make...and the cost gets passed along to the consumer. there's Spread in San Diego which makes *amazing* peanut and almond butters, but they're insanely expensive. if i'm not going to buy a major retail brand i just make my own.

              3. re: sueatmo
                aynrandgirl Mar 1, 2011 06:58 PM

                They're all pretty much the same, you can't tell from the ingredients list the actual proportions of peanuts and hydrogenated oils.

                1. re: aynrandgirl
                  Chemicalkinetics Mar 1, 2011 07:38 PM

                  Can't you tell the % of oil? The ingredient list tells you the ingredients in listing, but the nutrient table gives you hints about the proportion.

              4. Chemicalkinetics Mar 1, 2011 02:33 PM

                I wonder if the cheapest peanut butters have less oil in it. Have you had a chance to look at the nutrient labels? Maybe there is less oil, which explains the stiffness. Another possibility is that the peanuts wasn't ground sufficient. I think the finer the peanuts are ground, the smoother.

                1. nofunlatte Mar 1, 2011 10:58 AM

                  Maybe because they're cheaper to make? You probably get what you pay for.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: nofunlatte
                    aynrandgirl Mar 1, 2011 11:07 AM

                    But why is that? Too much hydrogenated oil and not enough peanuts? Different processing of the peanuts? The cost doesn't tell me why it's cheap or why it's not as good to eat.

                    1. re: aynrandgirl
                      nofunlatte Mar 1, 2011 11:19 AM

                      The oil is probably cheaper than the peanuts. Seems pretty logical to me.

                      1. re: aynrandgirl
                        scubadoo97 Mar 1, 2011 12:31 PM

                        more hydrogenated oil would make it more creamy

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