Peanut Butter Dilemmas

I am one of those people that just loooooves peanut butter. In the last year or so I have experimented with other nut butters, but peanut butter will always be my favourite of all the nut butters.

When I first found out about palm oil, and it's role in both modern food manufacturing & habitat destruction, the presence of palm oil in most peanut butter brands was just devastating. Most people aren't aware of this, but peanut oil is a valuable food commodity. Consequently, some (or all) of the peanut oil is often extracted from the nuts, and the pulp is 'rehydrated' into peanut butter with a cheaper, less valuable oil, usually palm. And even if the peanut oil is not replaced with palm oil, the stabilisers used to prevent the oil from separating out is often a palm oil derivative.

I'm not really one for viral videos, but this one really gets me going. It was originally brought to my attention a while ago by my sister, but my father in law reminded me of it the other day, and the timing could not have been better. So I'm going to include it here. You don't have to watch, but it's a strong, memorable message about palm oil in food, and particularly peanut butter.

Luckily for me, my favourite peanut butter is safe - Sanitarium Natural 100% Peanuts. I guess I have my hippy mum to thank for that one - we were never allowed the 'nice' ones (i.e. the ones with added salt & sugar) while growing up, and now I think it tastes weird!

So what are your options?

The following contain nothing but peanuts;

  • Sunbeam Natural 100% Peanuts
  • Macro Organic Peanut Butter

A word of warning on the stabiliser free options - if you have never bought one of these before, it can be a little surprising to open the jar and find a layer of oil on top. DO NOT be tempted to pour it off, you need to stir it back in otherwise you will end up with incredibly dry 'peanut paste'. I find a butter knife is better than a spoon for this, but it can get a bit messy. Once you have stirred it all back together, if you keep it in the fridge it will be slower to separate back out (but harder to spread!), I just keep mine in the pantry and give it a stir as required.

These have salt/sugar/stabilisers, but are palm oil & palm oil derivative free;

  • Sunbeam Peanut Butter (all others not above)
  • Dick Smith OzEnuts (and uses Australian grown peanuts too!)
  • Woolworths American Style Peanut Butter

And these contain palm oil;

  • Kraft Peanut Butter (all)
  • Coles Peanut Butter
  • Coles SmartBuy Peanut Butter
  • Woolworth Select Peanut Butter

The other option is to make your own. It's surprisingly easy - just roast the desired amount of shelled & skinned peanuts (about 2 cups gives a reasonable jar full) at 160°C for 10-15 minutes, shaking regularly. Leave to cool, drop in the food processor, and blend until smooth - it will take 5-10 minutes depending on your food processor (and it might need a break occasionally!). Once smooth, you can add salt or sugar to taste, or leave as is. And if you prefer crunchy PB, stop the food processor once the nuts are roughly chopped and take out 1/2 a cup or so, and add them back in right at the end. I've recently started making my own, and I think I like it more than my beloved Sanitarium Natural!

Which peanut butter is your favourite? Have a look at the ingredients listing and let me know what you find!

EDIT: I have started a Palm Oil Free Product Database, listing all these, and more - see here.