Saturday, 18 April 2015

The circle of peanut butter

JIF Creamy Peanut Butter, 16 oz - Dollar General
Growing up I was a JIF peanut butter girl all the way. After all the adverts said “Choosy mothers choose Jif.” My dad and I were big PB eaters. My mum not so much. He and I liked to eat the Elvis sandwich--peanut butter, bananas and greasy microwave bacon (I know….but it was the 80s before we knew better) and he loved to eat peanut butter, mayonnaise and pickle a.k.a. the PPM (Peter, Paul and Mary)

Yeah, I drew the line on that one. Blech.

But we *always* ate Jif.

In 1990, when Spiderman and I went on the life changing LC/MC overseas experience where we were exchange students we ate a bought lunch every day (often McDonalds I am sad to say, but it was cheap) and then had PB&J sandwiches and a piece of fruit and a chocolate bar for our evening meal. The only kind of peanut butter we could find was “natural” where the oil separated to the top. Every bloomin’ night we had to stir that oil back in and every night I cursed and swore and cried out for the comforts of Jif where it was smooth and creamy and never oily on the top. This natural PB was all gritty and did not spread like Jif.

I *hated* it.

I went home from that trip and resumed my old ways. I never bothered to look at the ingredients as I didn’t care much about nutrition back then. I only cared about if it tasted good.

Fast forward to 2004. We immigrated to the UK and were new vegetarians. I was just beginning to notice the effects of healthy foods on my body. I was overweight and had lots of health issues like fatigue and joint pain. Nutritional eating was helping me to lose weight and I could feel aches and pains that I had all my life going away. Living in the UK you couldn’t buy many American brands back then so we started buying more natural PB.

And you know what? I liked it. We started buying  brands that were “whole peanuts roasted in their skins” and it gave a real depth of flavour, a richness to the peanut butter. Then we became concerned about the devastating effects of palm oil production on the habitats of Orang-utans and we stopped buying brands with palm oil.
Meridian Peanut Butter | Meridian Peanut Butter 1kg

We started buying Meridian brand PB which has one ingredient--peanuts. Seriously that is it. Yes, it has oil on top but if you leave it upside down a few days before you open it it is *much* easier to re-mix the oil. It tastes really good and I buy 1kg at a time for £5.99 and when Holland and Barrett has a buy-one-get-one-half-price sale, we stock up. I also just read that it is made in North Wales--woohoo! 

Recently, when our friends came to stay at Easter they brought some Jif so we could make PB&J sammiches for our picnics and I was shocked at the ingredients. Sugar is the second ingredient and it is two kinds of fully hydrogenated oil. I know fully hydrogenated oil is better than partially hydrogenated oil, but just the word hydrogenated gives me the shivers. At least it didn’t have High Fructose Corn Syrup.

But we tried it as it was open from making sammiches and I can’t bear food to go to waste. It is technically vegan so we are determined to finish it. But the weird thing is….I kinda like it.

It is sooooooo smooth and creamy and spreadable and it doesn’t feel oily despite the fully hydrogenated oil. But it lacks a depth a depth of flavour. It is like eating peanut flavoured Crisco (Or Trex to my British peeps) and I am surprised how much I still like it.

I won’t buy anymore after the jar is finished as I think nutritionally speaking and taste wise the natural PB is miles better.

But I think I will miss not having to stir in all that oil every time. 

1 comment:

  1. what a great jaunt through the timeline of your life long love affair with peanut butter!

    I feel obligated to add that the PPM sandwich must have BreadnButter pickles, not any other kind. Not sweet gerkins, definitely not dill. The proper yellowy-green sweet ones. And oh my, how he did love them! My brother and my Garry both would not have survived childhood nutrition-wise without the aid of Jif peanut butter.