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Exploring Peanut Butter: Tales, Trivia, and Tasty Recipes

Updated on September 7, 2017
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

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
 
Calories 94
 
 
% Daily Values*
Total Fat 8.06 g
12%
Saturated Fat 1.647 g
8%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.219 g
 
Monounsaturated Fat 3.794 g
 
Cholesterol 0 mg
0%
Sodium 73 mg
3%
Potassium 104 mg
 
Total Carbohydrate 3.13 g
1%
Dietary Fiber 1 g
4%
Protein 4.01 g
 
Calcium
1%
Iron
2%
Vitamin E
7%
Niacin
10.5%
Folate
3%
Vitamin B6
4.5%
Phytosterols
16.3%
Total Omega-3 fatty acids 12.5 mg
 
Total Omega-6 fatty acids 2,253 mg
 
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 20000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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.

Recipes

Peanut Butter (PB) Recipes in this Article

Breakfast

  • PB Waffles with PB Syrup (V)
  • PB Banana Overnight Oats (V)

Lunch

  • Asian Slaw with Peanut-Ginger Dressing (V)
  • Slow-Cooker Turkey Mole Tacos

Dinner

  • 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.

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

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

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

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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

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:

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined.
  4. 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.
  5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in additional granulated sugar to coat.
  6. 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!

© 2017 Linda Lum

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    • Carb Diva profile image
      Author

      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, that brings back a memory for me. The first home my husband and I owned was next door to a lovely elderly couple. They bought peanuts in the shell (they were really cheap back then), would shell them, roast them, and then grind into peanut butter adding just a touch of salt. It was the most amazing, wonderful-tasting peanut butter I had ever experienced.

      Thank you for your kind words and support.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      When I was diagnosed with cancer my elder son came through like a whirlwind and made me dump out my coffee, lemon juice and peanut butter.

      I was amazed that my peanut butter had 7 ingredients. My peanut butter now has 3 and no preservatives.

      I loved all these recipes and will bookmark.

    • Carb Diva profile image
      Author

      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, somehow I knew this would be in your wheelhouse. I'm fussy about the brand of peanut butter I choose also. And if given a choice I'll always go for the super-chunky. As for summer, I hope those people who were complaining about the endless rain this past Winter/Spring are satisfied now. I blame it all on them.

    • Carb Diva profile image
      Author

      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Kristen - I love peanut butter cookies. They are soft and chewy, and the granulated sugar on top is crunchy --I think they are even better than chocolate chip. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Bingo! I eat peanut butter daily...only Jif....only Jif....no others will be tolerated. :) Recipes with peanut butter? I'm game.

      Thanks for the history and trivia. Fun read!

      Stay cool and hydrated. Summer is proving to be a stubborn wench.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      Carb Diva, love your PB facts and recipes in this hub. This was so informative to know about peanut butter. I love having PB in my shakes from time to time. Great hub! I would love to makae the PB cookies this fall too.

    • Carb Diva profile image
      Author

      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish - You made me grin from ear to ear and cry (happy tears) all at the same time. Bill (billybuc) like my writing, but he's a bit fussy when it comes to food. Now, in you I've found someone who actually likes my recipes. I'm so happy. Maybe you'd like my book?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA

      Homemade nutter butters! I love the idea. With school starting, my daughter will be finding these in her lunchbox because I just have to try them. After you hit a grand slam with both the meatloaf (I've never had 2 pounds of meatloaf disappear like that) and the honey garlic chicken recipe (which I have made twice now) I am one of your biggest fans. You know how to search out recipes and present good options for people, and what you select is absolutely worth trying! Thanks for being you.

    • Carb Diva profile image
      Author

      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Thank you Angel. I was a bit hesitant about creating this article because so many have peanut allergies.

    • Angel Guzman profile image

      Angel Guzman 2 weeks ago from Joliet, Illinois

      Peanuts are awesome! Great read!!