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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,856

    Peanut butter - what am I doing wrong?

    Apologies for a dumb question. I've never been much of a peanut butter fan. We never had it when I was growing up. But in the past few months I started buying it as part of my quest to get more protein into my diet despite the fact that I don't like to cook, am not much good at it and don't have time to clean up afterwards. And to my pleasant surprise, I've found pb&j sandwiches to be filling enough to help me cut back on calories and start losing the weight that I gained from too much candy and dessert last fall/early winter. (In fact they're so filling I can't imagine having one in the middle of a bike ride, but I digress.)

    I've been buying a supermarket brand of natural peanut butter, the kind you have to stir and then store in the refrigerator. Here's my question -- when I first open a jar, it's ridiculously oily. I end up making a huge mess stirring the oil into it and the first sandwich I make has peanut butter oozing out the sides of the bread. Then it's okay for most of the jar. But each time I make a sandwich it gets a bit thicker and dryer, and by the time I reach the bottom of the jar it's very dry, hard to spread and not very appetizing.

    So what am I doing wrong? I try to mix it thoroughly in the beginning. After that the oil doesn't separate any more so I don't stir it again. Is that the problem? Do you need to stir it every time? Or is this just not a good brand?

    And is there a way to stir it when you first open the jar so you don't make a huge mess? I use a butter knife and try to stir up from the bottom rather than just going in circles.

    (Yes I am over 50 and asking for help with pb&j sandwiches... )

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,956
    Natural peanut butter does separate. I would stir it every time to make certain the oil is thoroughly combined with the nut butter.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    central NY
    Posts
    407
    If you can remember to do it, take the jar out of the refrigerator ahead of time and let the peanut butter warm up a bit. That may help.

    A couple of jars ago, I made a mess during the initial stir. A lot of oil spilled out and the pb was fine without it. So last time, I poured out some oil into a small jar, and carefully mixed the remainder. I have used some of that "extra" oil for cooking, but I'm saving it in case the peanut butter gets too dry. I've been on a peanut butter kick lately.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,856
    Quote Originally Posted by IBrakeforPastry View Post
    If you can remember to do it, take the jar out of the refrigerator ahead of time and let the peanut butter warm up a bit. That may help.

    A couple of jars ago, I made a mess during the initial stir. A lot of oil spilled out and the pb was fine without it. So last time, I poured out some oil into a small jar, and carefully mixed the remainder. I have used some of that "extra" oil for cooking, but I'm saving it in case the peanut butter gets too dry. I've been on a peanut butter kick lately.
    Ooh, thinking outside the box, or the jar as it were. I could do this. It's too late for the current jar that I just opened and mixed for the first time. So I will mix it every time I open it and hope that helps. But in the future I will pour some of the oil into a storage jar and add it back later.

    Thanks!

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    548
    I don't store mine in the refrigerator, and I do stir every time - it's easier to stir & spread when it's not cold. It's a little challenging to stir when you first open the jar. Usually I buy a new jar when I see the old one starting to run low, and then store the new jar upside-down for a few days before I open it. It starts moving the oil from the (real) top to the bottom. And when I stir, I really dig down to get the drier bits at the bottom redistributed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    I keep mine in the refrigerator once I open it since I worry about aflatoxin - realistically a jar probably doesn't last long enough around my house that that's a real worry, but better safe than sorry IMO.

    It varies a lot from brand to brand, and sometimes even from batch to batch within a brand, just how much oil is in each batch. But yeah - taking it out of the fridge ahead of time, or just spooning whatever you plan to use onto your plate and letting that warm up before spreading - that helps. Or, since I have peanut butter in hot cereal much more often than I do on bread, I'll just nuke the cereal for 20-30 seconds after adding the PB, to warm it all back up.

    The other thing I do to help mix a jar that's been on the store shelf long enough to separate, is as soon as I get it home, I put it upside down on the counter. Leave it there until the oil is at the other end (opposite the lid). If the jar is really old, I might do that a couple times each side before attempting to stir it. Stirring with a knife rather than a spoon is less messy IME - I can kind of stab the solid parts to break them up, and mix with more of a gentle churning motion than a circular one, at least until it starts to get smoother. But it sounds like you're already doing that.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 05-14-2016 at 12:37 PM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Columbus, IN
    Posts
    221
    Lots of things to respond to! I never mix it without a mess so when I get down to the dry bits I give it to my dogs (we use PB and little bits of bread to feed them pills, make little bedtime treats, etc.). They don't care that its icky.

    I also make my own nutbutters with my food processor. It's really really easy. I love pecan butter. The batches are so small that they never last long enough to separate.

    I'm a sucker for neat kitchen contraptions. I've never seen the Witmer Peanut Butter Stirrer -- maybe I need to get one!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Yeah, I said to begin with that aflatoxin probably wasn't a realistic concern, just old habits die hard after years of not buying PB in bulk out of the five-gallon pail that used to sit unrefrigerated in the store. It's not like I'm storing my crop in an unrefrigerated bin until next year's crop comes in - which is why it's so widespread in some parts of the world.

    As far as glass vs plastic jars - actually, right now the supermarket is the only place I can get PB in glass, locally. We have a couple of natural food stores where I buy most of my staples, but neither one of them has PB in glass. And for some reason the supermarket is kind of hiding theirs - they started carrying a new brand called Sweet Ella's, but they put it one shelf over from the rest of their nut butters. Also, just because it's at the natural food store doesn't mean it doesn't have additives. The one store has four or five brands of PB, but only one of them is additive free (and I'm not even counting salt, which I prefer unsalted PB but isn't a deal-breaker for me, the way palm oils, sugar, or some of the other "natural" additives are).
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

 

 

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