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Feb 28, 2011 11:45 PM

What's up with cheap peanut butters?

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?

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: nofunlatte

      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

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

        1. re: aynrandgirl

          more hydrogenated oil would make it more creamy

      2. 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. 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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

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

                  2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    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

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

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    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

                      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

                  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

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