Peanut Butter is basically just smashed up peanuts. This was discovered out of desperation, living in a country without accessible peanut butter.
Points for Peanuts: America’s Favorite Nut Isn’t a Nut At All… WTF is it then?
Although our food in question has lived through a spectrum of admittedly awesome nicknames, (such as, but not limited to; Goobers, Earth Nuts, Pindars, Ground nuts, Earth peas, Goober peas, and Ground beans) today we know them most commonly as Peanuts.
This final decision is still notably deceiving, seeing as peanuts are not technically nuts, but legumes.
Instead of growing on trees like most nuts, peanuts sprout from a green leafy plant displaying a large yellow flower. Then, they launch below the ground to fruit, making them unique to the legume family, and positively foreign to the nut category.
An average child in the United States eats approximately 1,500 Peanut Butter sandwiches before graduating high school, and by our country’s average, it might be reckoned that at least 80% of homes in the United States contain at least one jar of the creamy nut spread.
Obviously, consuming peanuts in the form of store bought butter will change these facts, but for better or worse, here are some nutritional points for the peanut itself.
By percentage, peanuts are about 25% protein, making them one of the highest sources of plant-based protein for vegetarians and omnivores alike. Munch a few handfuls with breakfast and stay charged until lunch.
Manganese, Magnesium, Folates, and Niacin. Believe it or not, these harshly named vitamins and minerals are integral parts of the organ systems that keep us breathing. Specifically, systems sourced at the heart. Each of the above mentioned elements help balance heart health, so by eating peanuts you are really just following your heart.
Peanuts are one of the highest sources of edible Biotin, which is an important vitamin to consume during pregnancy. It can also help prevent hair loss and promotes healthy nail growth.
Peanuts are one of the most common food allergens and affect nearly 1% of all North Americans. A reaction to these allergens at any age can be deadly, but especially in children. This makes for tricky elementary school lunchtimes. Thankfully, school supervisors often separate affected children during eating periods to avoid incidents.
Not wild about hydrogenated oils or other emulsifiers that usually come in store-bought Peanut Butter? Making homemade peanut butter without the trash isn’t as mystical as it seems. Read my Theory about Jungle Butter: Hommade Nut Butters and the Key to Perpetual Health.
Jungle Butter: Homemade Nut Butters and the Key to Perpetual Health
Legumes and Economic Disparity
At any outdoor market or street corner in Perú, weary travelers can usually find shelled peanuts for about $3 a Kilogram, making the peculiar legumes an affordable option for basic survival and quick protein on the go.
The issue for travelers from the United States, unfortunately, is that these peanuts are not in the form of butter.
According to the Texas Peanut Board (this actually exists), we consume 700 million pounds of Peanut Butter a year in the United States, which is enough to slather a satisfyingly thick layer across the entire floor of the Grand Canyon.
The Creamy Question
Needless to say, while living in Puerto Maldonado, Perú, I found this lack of butter, to say the least, utterly disturbing. I was surrounded by some of the cheapest, freshest peanuts in the entire world, but not a single vendor sold the creamy stuff — let alone the crunchy.
When an infrequent grocery store does happen to carry some Peanut Butter in stock, it’s often absurdly priced; at about $5 for a small jar. Now, I agree this does not sound convincingly bank-breaking, but when the price of a Peruvian bed and breakfast is around $4 a night, the classic legume spread becomes a precious commodity.
In short, one sunny Sunday morning after waking in the Jungle from a vivid dream about Peanut Butter, I looked at the idle bag of whole roasted peanuts sitting on my bedside table and asked myself:
What is Peanut Butter, really, but a bunch of smashed up peanuts?
As it turns out, traditional Peanut Butter production in the United States is quite extraordinary relative to its finished appearance…
By the time it reaches that red and green jar labeled “Jif,” the original peanuts have undergone a hugely industrial process. Seeing as Peanut Butter has become known as an “All-American Food,” these steps could be considered the Traditional Process.
Starting from seed in early spring, the plants, including their fruit, are finally harvested in October after months of tending. Then, from their farms the legumes are sent to moisture-controlled shelling factories where they are carefully cracked and screened for contaminants.
Next, they are shipped to a roasting plant where enormous revolving ovens set to 800 ℉ dry roast the goobers until evenly prepared to cool. Up until this point, the skins are still present, so a blanching process is then executed by dumping the funny little foods into massive boiling water baths.
Furthering this factory affair, the peanuts are then run through two phases of grinders and mixed with several other ingredients such as salt, sugar, and oil emulsifiers before it is finally pumped into plastic jars and ready for your fried Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich.
Thus, we needed an alternative… and Jungle Butter was Born!
Does happiness really have to be so complicated? For several hours after asking this new question, I shelled, smashed, and ground the remainder of my lackluster, regular peanuts by hand until the physical state of the legumes transformed into a squishy brown paste.
Now at this point, wielding full control of the additives, I was able to experiment with different flavors until finally winnowing down the list to this recipe: called Jungle Butter. Which is an appropriate name considering the location of its conceptual origination — the Peruvian Amazon.
I have modified the recipe slightly to make it more “first-world” by including the option of using a food processor, as opposed to the “molino” hand -grinder limitations present while in Peru…
Please make this Jungle Butter recipe and eat it everyday.
HOW TO MAKE JUNGLE BUTTER
You will need:
1 Pound Roasted and Skinned Peanuts
2 Tbsp Oil (peanut or avocado work best in my experience)
Dash of salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Honey
Step 1: Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend.
Step 2: Add more oil if smoother consistency desired.
Step 3: Taste and continue adding flavors until your butter reaches optimal taste.
So, to answer the original question: Yes, peanut butter is basically a bunch of smashed up peanuts.
Stay wild folks! 🍌