Exploring Peanut Butter: Tales, Trivia, and Tasty Recipes
There are many claims about the origin of peanut butter. Africans ground peanuts into stews as early as the 15th century. The Chinese have crushed peanuts into creamy sauces for centuries. Civil War soldiers dined on 'peanut porridge.' These uses, however, bore little resemblance to peanut butter as it is known today.— Chef Stephen Holloway (from the CD "The History of Food.")
And It Didn't Begin with George Washington Carver
First the facts; although George Washington Carver suggested over 300 uses for the peanut, he was not the first person to suggest that this little bean (yes, it is a bean) be ground into a paste and served on bread with jelly.
It was actually a St. Louis physician in 1891 who had the notion of grinding peanuts into a paste; his theory was that it would prove to be a nutritious protein for people with bad teeth who could no longer chew meat. Four years later Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patented the process of steaming peanuts and grinding them into a paste or butter. (Thank goodness several years later the process was updated to roast the beans rather than steaming them—a much tastier choice.)
Is Necessity the Mother of Invention?
Until this time peanuts were being ground with a mortar and pestle, and put through a meat grinder, but neither of these produced a smooth, creamy product. That all changed in 1896 when John Lambert invented an industrial-strength peanut-grinding machine. Ambrose Straub further refined the design and was granted a patent for a peanut butter machine in 1903.
The Big Reveal
And because peanut butter could now be made with much less effort, it could be mass produced; the world premiere of peanut butter was at the 1904 St. Louis Universal Exposition (aka World's Fair).
C.H. Sumner was the entrepreneur and sold an astounding $705.11 worth of the treat at his concession stand! That same year Beech-Nut Packing Company began to package and distribute it.
Is Peanut Butter a Healthy Choice?
I have good and bad news; first, the bad news. Peanut butter (like all nut butters) is high in fat and calories. But, here's the good news—it's also packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (those nutrients that go into battle for us to combat the oxidation or "rusting" of our cells).
Nutrition Facts—What You Get in 1 Tablespoon of Peanut Butter
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Values*
Total Fat 8.06 g
Saturated Fat 1.647 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.219 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.794 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 73 mg
Potassium 104 mg
Total Carbohydrate 3.13 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Protein 4.01 g
Total Omega-3 fatty acids 12.5 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids 2,253 mg
Peanut Butter Trivia
Some Peanut Trivia:
- Despite the name, peanuts are not actually nuts. They are a legume (bean) that grows underground.
- The world's top three producers of peanuts are China, India, and the United States (Georgia and Texas are the major peanut producing states).
- More 50 percent of the American peanut crop goes into making peanut butter.
- Two former U.S. presidents were peanut farmers—Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
- It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.
- In 1958 Procter & Gamble entered the peanut butter business, introducing Jif Now owned by the J.M. Smucker Company, Jif operates the world’s largest peanut butter plant, producing 250,000 jars every day!
- Americans eat around 800 million pounds of peanut butter per year (that's roughly 3 pounds per person).
- The average American child eats 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they graduate from high school.
- January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day in the United States.
Peanut Butter (PB) Recipes in this Article
- PB Waffles with PB Syrup (V)
- PB Banana Overnight Oats (V)
- Asian Slaw with Peanut-Ginger Dressing (V)
- Slow-Cooker Turkey Mole Tacos
- West African Peanut Soup (V)
- Carb Diva's (that's ME!) Thai Peanut Sauce (V)
Desserts and Snacks
- Traditional PB Cookie Recipe (V)
- PB Rice Krispies Treats (V)
- Homemade Nutter Butter Cookies (V)
(V) = vegetarian
Peanut Butter Waffles with Peanut Butter Syrup
Saturday morning are made for taking a bit more time for breakfast, and these homemade waffles are certainly Saturday-morning-worthy. I found these peanut-butter rich goodies at the blog CreationsByKara.com.
Peanut Butter on Oatmeal
At JuliesEatsandTreats.com blogger Julie provides simple, easy, and family friendly options for meal and snack time. Her overnight oats recipe is a great make-ahead to keep in mind especially as school begins.
Asian Slaw with Peanut-Ginger Dressing
Ai Ping (that's her first name) is Malaysian, and loves her husband, and food (especially Asian food), and chocolate cake. Oh, and sharing her recipes with us, like this Asian Slaw with Peanut-Ginger Dressing.
Slow-Cooker Turkey Mole Tacos Recipe
Most main dishes that contain peanut butter have a decidedly Asian taste. This recipe from the Food Network boldly gives our featured food a Tex-Mex spin. Prepare the turkey during the day, then cool and refrigerate. You can quickly assemble tacos the next day for lunch. Just warm a few flour tortillas and shred a bit of cabbage.
West African Peanut Soup Recipe
This recipe is from the blog CookieandKate. Kate is the vegetarian, and Cookie is her dog. Kate began her cooking/photography journey in 2010, and now devotes herself full-time to maintaining her blog (sigh!).
Her friend provided this recipe for West African Peanut Soup from a vegan cookbook "Local Bounty."
Thai Peanut Sauce Recipe
This sauce is wonderful tossed with rice noodles for Pad Thai, with Lumpia, as a dipping sauce for satay, or in a stir-fry with chicken, beef, or tofu.
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon ginger root paste
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3/4 cup unsweetened
- canned coconut milk
- Combine all ingredients in medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
Makes about 1 cup sauce
Traditional Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe
This is the one your mom (or grandma) made years ago, the one that came from the red and white plaid cookbook in a 3-ring binder. Yes, this is the original recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. If you search the internet you will find dozens, perhaps hundreds of peanut butter cookie recipes—some contain oatmeal or raisins, chocolate chips or salted peanuts. Some baker have been known to sandwich the chunky version of the spread between two layers of dough...and on and on. But in my mind nothing compares to this classic:
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Granulated sugar (for flattening cookies)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a large mixing bowl beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
- Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.
- Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. If necessary, cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in additional granulated sugar to coat.
- Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
7. Using the tines of a fork, flatten balls by making crisscross marks on top.
8. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Makes about 36 cookies.
Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Treats
Brandie gained a love of cooking at a very early age; career and "life" sidelined her work in the kitchen, but when she became a stay-at-home mom she found a renewed interest in preparing healthy, nourishing food for her family.
Many of us grew up loving Rice Krispies Treats (those bar confections made with puffed rice cereal and melted marshmallows). Brandie makes hers the way her mom always did—with the addition of melted peanut butter.
Homemade Nutter Butter Cookies
Nutter-Butters are the peanut-shaped sandwich cookie with a creamy peanut-flavored filling in the middle. Sure, you can buy them in the grocery store. But why not make a fresh batch of cookies, preservative-free, for your family (or just yourself). You're worth it!
Questions & Answers
© 2017 Linda Lum