Recently I had a really helpful conversation with Judy Watson, a nutritionist who operates in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire areas, and we got talking about peanut butter. I’ll tell you more about the excellent consultation another time.
While I said how much I like peanut butter and have some most days, Judy surprised me by asking me what type I have. She explained there is quite a variation in the nutritional benefits and I could do better than Sunpat or Sainsbury’s own brand peanut butters.
“It’s the quality of the peanuts themselves which make the difference, how they’re grown” said Judy. So while I have had just about every type of peanut butter in the past, I’m now avoiding the not-so-good brands. One of the reasons behind Judy’s recommendations was my tendency to suffer from cramp and the cause could be linked to missing out on some trace elements.
Meridian verses Whole Earth
Meridian and Whole Earth are more commonly available these days and they’re priced just above the Sunpat varieties. They’re commonly available in supermarkets, as well as whole-food shops.
As you can see Meridian comes in a 1kg tub but it’s also available in conventional jars. On first glance it is quite an oily butter and this is obvious when you open the tub, carefully stirring the floating oil in (it reminded me of stirring gloss paint!). As the oil is a “good” oil this was okay with me and the consistency right was easily achieved. Once we had stirred it up, some was decanted into a jar to make the handling easier. Having chatted “peanut butter” with some Facebook friends, this is a common thing to do.
The Meridian has no added ingredients whatsoever, just 100% peanuts. The packaging text says “we roast peanuts in their natural skins, then grind them until almost (but not quite) smooth”. There’s something reassuring about that.
It look a little while to get used to the taste as it was a little different from what I was used to. By the time I had reached the end I had completely adapted to the taste and loved it.
The packaging helpfully gives a helpful breakdown of the nutritional information and goes beyond the usual calories, fat, fibre and so on. It provides details on the amount of biotin, niacin, copper, phosphorous, Magnesium and zinc.
Whole Earth peanut butter is not quite the same. It doesn’t need stirring at all, you use it straight from the jar. The consistency is slightly thicker and I’ve found this doesn’t suit delicate or thin slices of bread.
The peanuts account for just 91% with the added ingredients being palm oil and sea salt. The palm oil is organic and sustainable, reassuring to know.
As there’s a little salt included, this is quite noticeable in the taste. It’s actually quite nice and it is always hard to know how much to use! I sometimes find myself wondering if I should use a double layer. Strangely the taste seems quite sweet and yet there is absolutely no added sugar.
Whole Earth does have some other impressive credentials such as being an official supplier to the British Triathlon team and the label bears the Soil Association organic mark.
I like both of these peanut butters. I’m not sure there is much of a difference in terms of cost so it is pretty much a draw between them and I can see myself flitting between them.
The next step is to explore further other nut butters to add variety to my lunch box. Actually while I was at Fairhaven Wholefoods a couple of weeks ago, they were saying there is currently a shortage of Brazil nuts (is there a regular harvest?) and this is having the inevitable pressure on prices of nuts in general.
The debate still continues about the merits of a little mayonnaise to peanut butter. Most people express their dislike through “YUK! You must be insane!!!!” although I sometimes really like this combination!
So, peanut butter with or without mayonnaise – yes or no?