Cooking

Peanut Butter

More accurately, peanut butter for use in peanut butter cookies…

 

I grew up in a Jif Peanut butter house. It’s all I knew. I thought Skippy and Peter Pan tasted funny. The kids who grew up on Skippy and Peter Pan felt the same about Jif. Essentially though, all commercial peanut butter is about the same. They are made with a ton of additives to keep the mixture stable and give it a good mouth feel. In fact, in my opinion, that’s what they sell, peanut-flavored convenience that feels terrific in your mouth. (Seriously, if you haven’t had a spoonful of your favorite childhood peanut butter in while, put some in your mouth and let it sit there for a second or two…it’s glorious.)

The convenience part comes from the simple fact that you don’t have to stir commercial peanut butter when you open the jar. It’s ready to go. Peanut butter made from fresh ground peanuts and no additives will separate and stirring a nearly full jar of peanut butter is kind of a pain in the ass…a time-consuming pain in the ass, something modern food creators “fix” all the time.

A few years ago, though, I switched to natural peanut butter, that is peanut butter made from ground peanuts, and maybe salt, as the only ingredients. I liked the taste and found removing chemical from my food was worth the trouble of stirring. When I open a jar for the first time, there’s about an inch of peanut oil floating on top. Using a knife, it takes a few minutes, some elbow power, and a bit of oily over-spill, to combine the mixture back to spreadable consistency. Subsequent uses aren’t as harrowing. In fact, I now store unopened jars upside down so when I open it for the first time, the oil is at the bottom. It helps. A little. No lie, it’s work to get a new jar going.

But I always kept a jar of Jif for peanut butter cookies because that’s how Mom made them. Peanut butter cookies are my favorite to make, and from the time I moved out of my parents house and found a recipe I liked, I’ve always made them, and kept a supply in my freezer at all times. Like a grandma.

One day, I didn’t have Jif, and I used my natural peanut butter. That one change made my peanut butter cookies legendary. Because the natural peanut butter doesn’t have added sugar (and other crap), the cookies were less sweet, and more peanuty. Jif peanut butter cookies taste like sugar cookies with a hint of peanut…because that’s what they are.

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Peanut Butter flavor good…Fork imprints need some work.

For years, I used Trader Joe’s organic peanut butter, a product that pisses me off because of the way they measure it. [Here’s a sign of getting old no one told me about…Weights and measures of products I buy mean something to me. WTF?!?] Anyway, Trader Joe’s sells a 16 oz jar of peanut butter. This would mean I should get two (8 oz) measuring cups of peanut butter out of a jar. I don’t. They are selling 16 oz weight not volume. There’s only a cup and a half in their 16 oz jar. This is why I don’t buy their peanut butter any more.

That and the only thing I buy at Trader Joe’s is the peanut butter, and the TJ’s closest to me is in a heavily congested part of town that I try to avoid. [Bitching about traffic IS something I know would come with aging, btw!]

Since my math feud with TJ’s, I’ve tried a few brands and been under-impressed by flavor and texture. Last week a neighbor reminded me that Gibbs at Findlay Market down the street grinds out their own peanut butter. He also told me Gibbs is picky. If they don’t get the right peanuts, they don’t make peanut butter.

I got some. It comes in a 16oz container that yields 2 cups. The texture sits between classically smooth and classically chunky, with itty-bitty pieces of peanuts running throughout. Because it’s fresh ground, if you eat it right away, or put it right into the fridge, no stirring is involved. The taste is amazing. The peanut butter cookies were outstanding. I hadn’t made peanut butter cookies in a while. Unleashing my inner Grandma once again, with good peanut butter, and a good peanut butter cookie was worth the wait. My reputation in the kitchen is saved

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