Saturday, October 25, 2008

Earth Balance Peanut Butter: A Review

I mentioned a few days ago that Earth Balance sent me some of their new peanut butter to check out. So check it out I did. I personally am a big fan of peanut butter and find myself taking a classic PB&J sandwich to work several times a week. I usually buy Kraft peanut butter, probably because my mom bought the all natural stuff when I was a kid (deriding Kraft as peanut butter icing) and I am still in some stage of teenage rebellion. So, what is the big deal with Earth Balance peanut butter? Obviously it's no great coup to make a vegan peanut butter so I will admit that news of the new product was a little less exciting than when I discovered Earth Balance margarine. The big deal, it seems, is with the fat. Kraft uses hydrogenated oil, which I thought created trans fat, though the jar I have here states that it has 0g of trans fat per serving (in Canada, they have to report 0.1g or more). Earth Balance does not hydrogenate oil but rather uses expeller-pressed oil. Specifically, they use palm fruit oil (not palm kernel oil). The literature they gave me states that palm fruit oil is "quite healthy" (I am sure some of my readers will want to comment on that) because it is about 45% saturated and lower in lauric and mysritic acid than palm kernel oil. What this translates into is a no-stir peanut butter that is stable at room temperature without the aid of hydrogenation.


OK, enough talk about fats, what about the taste? Earth Balance uses agave as a sweetener which makes the peanut butter less bland than all natural but less sweet than Kraft. The taste is more salty than sweet (55mg of sodium per 1 tbsp) and has a very nice roasted flavour.

The peanut butter will retail in the U.S. at prices ranging from $3.99 to $4.49 for a 16oz jar at places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Safeway, and Wegman's, but are not yet available in Canada (son of a . . . !). I certainly hope I can buy more in the near future. You can find out more here.

18 comments:

Tracy said...

They sent you some and it's not available in Canada!?! Are they just teasing you?

Ricki said...

I love the agave idea, not as crazy about the palm kernel oil (though natural sat fat isn't so bad, apparently--as in organic coconut oil). Very interesting, though, that it's not in Canada--but they sent it to a Canadian blogger!

Jamie said...

Personally, I don't see the point of any additives in nut butters, even salt. They are plenty flavorful and fatty on their own! I buy plain, unsalted peanut, almond, and cashew butter from my local grocery store, and after it's mixed once and refrigerated, there's no need to mix again.

In terms of trans fat, any partially hydrogenated oil is bad for you. Companies have gotten away with listening "0g trans fat" because they've reduced the serving sizes on their products. If you actually consume a normal servings, you are more than likely ingesting a decent amount of trans fat. If the ingredient is listed, I steer clear!

Ron said...

"Earth Balance uses agave as a sweetener"

I really don't understand this Nth American need to sweeten everything, and unfortunately with so many Australian food brands now being owned by US companies, I notice it increasingly happening here. I've seen that Goober PB/grape jelly stuff for sale recently - yuk.

The peanut butter I buy is just peanuts, oil and a little salt. And Extra Crunchy! In many health food shops you can make your own PB - the only thing I don't like about that is you never know how old the peanuts are. They can become toxic as they age.

On sandwiches or toast with PB I like things like lettuce, freshly-sliced fruit (peaches are ideal as are apples), green seedless grapes etc. ... Jam/jelly - no way!

Cheers,
Ron (Australia)

Vegan Dad said...

Earth Balance sent me the peanut butter because I get about 25 000 U.S. readers a week. Yes, I am a pawn in their marketing game.

Jamie and Ron raise a good point: what's wrong with just crushed roasted peanuts?

kmouse said...

It's sounds good and I like the idea of "no-stir". But I like buying natural pb at Trader Joe's for $1.99. I don't know if I could pay $4 for a jar. Especially in tough times like these. But it's nice that they have options. That's cool that they sent you some to try out!

Valerie said...

I'm not sure why oil, sugar, or salt would be put in any peanut butter. I throw peanuts in my food processor and swizsh it around until it is peanut butter. Delicious! And nothing added.

Vegetation said...

And here I thought I was the only person on the planet who still buys peanut butter with sugar in it :P I'm glad I'm not alone (and yum, I wish EB stuff was available here!)

havecakewilltravel.com said...

I agree that PB doesn't need any sweetness added to it, even though agave is the better kind of it.

also: TJ will carry it? I'll give it a try, then. sweetness be darned. (I know, you said it's more salty than sweet, so it's all good)

Holly said...

Wow, 25,000 American readers per week!? That's awesome! You probably have more American than Canadian readers LOL.

While I prefer my peanut butter to contain only peanuts, I really applaud EarthBalance for making a peanut butter that resembles the commercial varieties like Kraft, but healthier, and thus opening themselves to a wider audience. I would give this a try once it's available here in Canada.

k j said...

So I love your blog, it's rad, and I can understand your frustration with not having certain vegan products to your avail. I recently moved to Northern Ontario and yikes!

For years I ate the Kraft stuff - then my mom started buying Just Peanuts, extra crunchy, with a bit of salt (the only way to have peanut butter!) I can't go back to the Kraft stuff, it just seems so gross now that I've been into the natural stuff. It's also really great in baking because of the natural oils and no extras. I find the same thing with coffee... once I started drinking it black, I couldn't add anything to it. Give the natural stuff a try.
Also...peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. The best sandwich ever!

Katie said...

I love this peanut butter, found it recently at whole foods in seattle. I like the no-stir kinds, used to buy maranatha no stir sweet & crunchy. They add the sweetener since if they want to market to kids, kids like a slightly sweeter peanut butter (so do i), and the added oils to emulsify the fats and keep it from separating. It really adds a negligible amount of fat or calories compared with the additive free versions. I haven't tried the creamy but the crunchy is so good! I make PBJ at least 3-4 times a week too!

Alexis said...

My family always bought the just-peanuts-and-salt kind, so I think I'll stick with that. I can see the attraction of shelf-stable peanut butter, but any kind of palm oil gives peanut butter a weird bitter flavor to me. And sweetening! Ack!

Plus, the just-peanuts stuff is much cheaper.

Susan G said...

Although for about 25 years I ate only the totally natural stuff, one day I started craving Skippy, the pb of my childhood. I bought a jar and have never looked back - I hated stirring the oil in and getting it all over the counter, jar, etc.! Now Skippy makes a "natural" form, I think using palm oil. Still no separation like the hydorgenated kind, but it does have a couple of grams of saturated fat. Still, I love it.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so yes it is great to steer clear from trans fat, but palm oil is not a great substitution AND not because of health reasons. But, because of the orangutans and all the other fascinating animals who live in SE Asia. Sure, the palm that is used from there is mostly for biodiesel and the amount for Earth Balance is a small amount. But if we ALL use a "small" amount, that is a lot. We need to write to the Earth Balance Company and demand they look into using SUSTAINABLE YIELD PALM OIL. This will help the local population keep jobs, and provide food for us while looking out for the environment. We are vegans, and we want to send the message we are compassionate for the planet. Thanks- Stacey

be'ershevaboheme6 said...

Just out of curiosity, why are we adding oil to peanuts which are full of their own? I simply don't understand the necessity....

Oh...and it's way too fun grinding your own peanuts for pure peanut butter at the grocery store...

Jan Scholl said...

dang-wrote a long thingie about making your own PB and how easy it was, my DSL went poof and dumped the whole thing. Oh well, back to roasting pumpkin and squash seeds as the "meat" of them roasts too. One batch I burned while watching the game. I still ate them.

Rebecca said...

Stacey - Thanks for pointing that out. I was about to make my first reply here (despite reading for quite some time) about that, but you've saved me the trouble. Instead, my first comment will clearly be all about, "What she said."

-- Rebecca