The Guide to Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a popular spread that is made from ground dry-roasted peanuts. It is served as a spread on bread, crackers, or toast, and is commonly used to make sandwiches. One of the most notable sandwiches you can make using it is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Aside from that, peanut butter can also be used in cooking and preparing different dishes like cookies, crepes, smoothies, peanut-flavored granola, croissants, and more. You can also use it as a dip for snacks like celery.

Many of us have known and loved peanut butter since childhood. But have you ever wondered how it started and how it is made? If you are one of the people who want to know more about peanut butter, then you’re in the right place. We are here to share with you its history, how it’s made, and the different kinds you can buy today.

History of Peanut Butter

It’s kind of challenging to answer the question of who invented peanut butter because there appears to be a difference among food historians on who earns the honor. According to one food historian named Eleanor Rosakranse, a New Yorker named Rose Davis began making peanut butter as early as the 1840s after her son informed her that he saw a woman in Cuba crushing peanuts into a paste and smearing it onto bread. 

Other food historians are also claiming that a Canadian chemist named Marcellus Gilmore Edson was the one who filed and was granted the first patent in the United States in 1884 for what he called “peanut-candy”. It was conceived as a flavoring paste, and the process included running roasted peanuts through a heated mill to make a fluid or semi-fluid byproduct that cools into a butter-like consistency, or just like lard or ointment. However, there was no sign that Edson made or sold peanut butter for commercial purposes. 

There was also a case made for George A. Bayle, a St. Louis businessman who started packing and retailing peanut butter through his food manufacturing company. Many believed that the idea came from a collaboration with a doctor who was finding ways for his patients who were not able to chew meat to consume protein. There were also advertisements ran by Bayle in the early 1920s, which proclaimed his company to be the “original manufacturers of peanut butter”. The cans of the peanut butter his company produced also have the same claim on the labels. 

Many have disputed the claim of Bayle, and they argued that the honor should be given to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, an influential Seventh-Day Adventist. According to the National Peanut Board, Kellog received a patent for a technique he established for creating peanut butter in 1896. In 1897, there was also an advertisement for Kellog’s Sanitas company Nut Butter. These pre-dates all the other competitors. 

Kellogg was diligent when it comes to promoting peanut butter. He traveled to different countries and gave lectures on its health benefits. He also served peanut butter to his patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. However, one of the disastrous knocks on his claim as the father of modern-day peanut butter is his decision to switch from using roasted nuts to using steamed nuts instead. This switch resulted in a product that hardly bears a resemblance to the omnipresent jarred goodness that we can find in stores today. 

Aside from that, Kellog also played an indirect part in the production of peanut butter, reaching a mass scale. Kellogg’s employee, named John Lambert, eventually left the company in 1896. He then established a company to develop and manufacture industrial strength peanut-grinding machines. Soon, a competitor who was another machine manufacturer named Ambrose Straub, came into the picture. In 1903, he was granted a patent for the earliest peanut butter machines. The machines he created made the process of making peanut butter easier. 

The Popularity of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter was presented to the wider public in 1904, during the World’s Fair that was held in St. Louis. There, the only vendor to sell peanut butter was a concessionaire named C.H. Summer. He used one of Ambrose Straub’s peanut butter machines, which helped him sold over $700 worth of peanut butter. In the same year, the Beech-Nut Packing Company became the very first nationwide brand to market peanut butter. They continued the distribution of peanut butter until 1956. 

After that, there were also other brands of peanut butter that follow suit. This includes Heinz company in 1909 and the Krema Nut Company in Ohio, which up until today survives as the oldest peanut butter company in the world. Many other companies began selling peanut butter, which led to a mass invasion of boll weevils that ravaged the south. It destroyed lots of cotton crop fields that have been a staple of the region’s farmers for a long time. With this, the growing interest in peanuts in the food industry was fueled in part by many farmers who turned to peanuts of a replacement. 

When the demand for peanut butter became higher, it was sold primarily as a regional product. During that time, grounded peanut butter was unstable, that’s why it was best distributed locally. The problem was the oil separated from the peanut butter solids. What happened was it would rise to the top, which can quickly spoil the peanut butter when exposed to light and oxygen. 

That issue was solved when a businessman Joseph Rosefield came into the picture in the 1920s. He patented a process called “peanut butter and process of manufacturing the same”. This method described how hydrogenation of peanut oil can help in keeping the peanut butter from coming apart. Rosefield started licensing the patent to food companies. Then, he eventually decided to go off on his own and launch his own brand of peanut butter. Today, his Skippy peanut butter, together with Peter Pan and Jif, are some of the most popular and most successful names in the peanut butter business. 

Two Types of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter has two main types, which are crunchy or chunky, and smooth or creamy. Crunchy peanut butter includes some coarsely-ground peanut fragments, giving it extra texture. Smooth peanut butter, on the other hand, is smoothly grounded for a creamy texture. 

In the United States, any product that is labeled with “peanut butter” is required by food regulations to contain at least 90 percent peanuts, and the remaining 10 percent may consist of sweeteners, salt, and emulsifier or hardened vegetable oil to prevent it from separating. Aside from that, no product labeled with “peanut butter” can contain chemical preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and coloring additives. 

How Peanut Butter is Made

Here are the processes to make peanut butter:

Planting and Harvesting

Peanuts are usually planted in spring because of weather conditions. They come from a yellow flower that bends over and infiltrates the soil after blooming and wilting. After that, the peanut will begin to grow in the soil. They are usually harvested from late August to October, or while the weather is clear, so there will be dry soil, making it easy to get the peanuts. After that, they are removed from vines and transported to a peanut shelling machine to dry them mechanically. 

Shelling

After harvesting peanuts, shelling is the next step to be done. They are sent to a series of rollers where they are cracked. These are set specifically for the batch of peanuts. Then, they will go through a screening process where they are examined for any impurities or contaminants. 

Roasting

After shelling the peanuts, they are then dry-roasted. The peanuts are heated in large quantities in a revolving oven at about 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, they will be held and roasted in the oven at 320 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40 to 60 minutes. There’s also a continuous method where a hot air roaster is used. The peanuts will pass through the roaster while they are rocked to allow even roasting. The completion of dry roasting can be seen in the photometer. It is a better method as it can lower the rate of spoilage, and it also requires less labor. 

  • Cooling: The peanuts are then cooled after dry roasting. They should be removed from the oven as quickly as possible and placed directly in a blower-cooler cylinder. This process will not dry out the peanuts as it can help in retaining oil and moisture. When the temperature of the cylinder reaches 86 degrees Fahrenheit, it means the cooling process is completed. 
  • Blanching: The peanuts will then undergo either heat blanching or water blanching to remove the remaining seed coats. In heat blanching, peanuts are heated by hot air at 280 degrees Fahrenheit but not exceeding 20 minutes. This will help in softening and splitting the skins. After that, the peanuts are then exposed to continuous steam using a blanching machine. In water blanching, on the other hand, the kernels are brought through a minute of a hot water bath and then placed on a swinging pad to rub off the skins. Then they are dried by hot air for six hours. 
  • Grinding: The peanuts are ground after blanching and then sent to be manufactured into peanut butter. There are two sizes of grinders being used. One produces medium grind, while the second one produces a fine grind. After grinding, salt, sugar, and a vegetable oil stabilizer are added to produce the peanut butter. They also add chopped peanuts to be able to make chunky peanut butter. 
  • Packaging: After making the peanut butter, they are first cooled and then sealed in jars. The mixtures are cooled in a heat exchanger. After that, they are pumped into jars and vacuum-sealed to get rid of oxygen and prevent oxidation, to preserve the peanut butter. After putting them in jars, they are packed in cartons and delivered to retailers where we purchase our favorite peanut butter. 

The Best Peanut Butter

Today, there are many different brands of peanut butter you can find in the market and even online. That’s why it is challenging to pick the best one, sometimes. If you are looking for some delicious peanut butter that you can use as a spread, in making PB&J, or in cooking, here are some of the best ones we can recommend.

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter
Jif Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter
Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter
365 Everyday Value Organic Peanut Butter

1. Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter

This peanut butter has a deeper and richer taste compared to other peanut butter. It is also made using all-natural ingredients, which are peanut and salt. Two tablespoons of this peanut butter contain 190 calories, 8 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat, and 2 grams of sugar. It also does not contain any trans-fat acids. 

2. Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter

This peanut butter embodies the traditional flavor that most people expect from peanut butter. It’s because Skippy is made with real roasted peanuts. Aside from that, it is also gluten-free and does not contain any added preservatives. It is also certified kosher. A serving of Skippy peanut butter contains 16 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, and 190 calories. 

3. Jif Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter

Jif is a brand that has been trusted for many years when it comes to peanut butter. This one is made with natural ingredients, and it has fresh roasted peanut butter taste. One bite of a sandwich with this spread will surely remind you of your childhood. This also has an extra crunchy texture, but it is easy to spread, as well. A serving of this peanut butter contains 16 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein, 3 grams of sugar, and 190 calories. 

4. Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter

This classic peanut butter only contains peanuts and oil. Meaning, it is one of the best less-sugar options for peanut butter if you’re on a diet. A serving of this peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat, 2 grams of sugar, and 190 calories. It is also gluten-free, non-GMO, and keto-friendly. 

 5. 365 Everyday Value Organic Peanut Butter

This peanut butter only has one ingredient, and that is dry-roasted peanuts. It does not contain any added oils, sugars, and salt. However, it is slightly higher when it comes to calories and fat. A serving of this peanut butter contains 200 calories and 17 grams of fat. But it is certified organic, GMO-free, Kosher, and Vegan. 

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Santa Cruz Organic Dark Roasted Peanut Butter Spread
Naturally More All-Natural Peanut Butter
Crazy Richard’s Creamy Peanut Butter
Teddy All-Natural Super Chunky Peanut Butter
Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Peanut Butter

6. Santa Cruz Organic Dark Roasted Peanut Butter Spread

This peanut butter is made from certified USDA organic Spanish peanuts, organic palm oil, and a dash of salt. It does not contain hydrogenated oils, sugar, and artificial ingredients. It is made of dark roasted peanuts, giving it a robust taste. This peanut butter is also gluten-free and certified kosher. 

7. Naturally More All-Natural Peanut Butter

This peanut butter has added prebiotics that can help support both the digestive and immune systems. It is organic peanut butter that contains peanut, coconut sugar, flaxseeds, sea salt, palm oil, and probiotics. Aside from that, it also has a rich, peanut-y taste, making it a great sandwich spread. 

8. Crazy Richard’s Creamy Peanut Butter

This peanut butter is made with the highest-quality peanuts that are grown in the United States. It tastes like original peanuts because it does not contain any sugar, salt, fat, or filler. It is non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and certified kosher. This peanut butter has 8 grams of protein per serving. 

9. Teddy All-Natural Super Chunky Peanut Butter

This classic peanut butter that has been around since 1925. It is made only with peanuts and salt. It means that it does not contain solidifying oils. A serving of this peanut butter has 16 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 190 calories. Most of the fat it contains is unsaturated. It is also non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and kosher. 

10. Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Peanut Butter

This peanut butter is made from unblanched peanuts. It has the perfect consistency for drizzling, and it is made only with peanuts and salt. The peanuts used in this spread are grounded with the skins still on. This enhances the flavor of the finished product. A serving of this peanut butter contains 7 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar, 16 grams of fat, and 190 calories. 

Peanut butter indeed has an interesting history. There are also lots of processes to be able to make our favorite ones that we buy from the supermarket. We hope the information we shared helped you in knowing more about peanut butter.