Peanut butter starts with dry roasting peanuts, which concentrates and heightens their flavour and increases the proportion of oil to solids by getting rid of other moisture. As is common in Health Food Shops, they may be ground into a delicious paste just like that. Commercial varieties tend to add salt and sugar or other sweeteners, agave syrup for instance. Some might also add an emulsifier; a paste only of peanuts tends to separate and need constant re-mixing or whisking.
Almost everyone in the world who has been exposed to peanut butter has a preference for a totally smooth paste or a chunky/crunchy one, into which small pieces of roasted peanut have been added. Other ingredients and flavourings are sometimes found but all types of peanut butter are high in calories.
Widely available, most commonly as a commercial product.
Choose the best
Buy to your taste. Grind it in a Health Food Store, buy it plain, buy it flavoured, buy it smooth or chunky/crunchy.
Peanut butter, even if opened or homemade, will last a couple of months in a cool larder or kitchen cupboard but, as with any food with a high oil content, refrigeration is recommended. This should give a life of up to six months.
Peanut butter’s most common use is as a spread. In the US it is commonly combined with jelly, or what we call jam.
It combines well with fresh or cooked fruits and so might be added to whipped cream, yogurt, soured cream/crème fraîche or custard to go with these, or into an ice cream. It is very popular in baked goods just by itself but is often combined with dark chocolate (milk and white chocolates tend to give a bland, gloopy result).
Peanut butter also goes very well with salted goods or with combinations of salt and sweet. Spread it in a bacon sandwich, even in a bacon and fried banana sandwich, Elvis Presley-style. Versions of such Asian staples as satay sauce can be made using peanut butter, too.
Take a look at our peanut butter recipes for delicious ways to use this spread.