Top 8 peanut butters

Roz Crowley finds out where to get the best peanut butter.

A CONVENIENT store cupboard ingredient, peanut butter is useful in more ways than on bread. I add it to stews to add richness, at the end of stirfrying to add creaminess and with water to make a sauce. It is also useful to mollify over-spiced foods — the fat can soak up any harsh chilli flavour. Add a heaped dessertspoon. It may be all you need.

Health-wise, peanuts are a good source of protein, vitamin D and iodine, so some on bread sustains us better than sugary alternatives such as jam. On wholemeal bread for lunch, peanut butter could get us to our next meal. Added oil brings up the fat content, but some of the fats can be good. The trick is to choose well which means reading labels to avoid undesirable additions such as sugar, the bête noir of dietitians and Dr Eva Orsmond.

Some manufacturers use it as a cheap addition and to balance the addition of salt. However, you will see from the samples below that there are plenty of options without sugar.

The sustainability of sources of palm oil is becoming serious. We all need to think twice before buying products, from shampoo to peanut butter, which promote the cutting down of forests so palm oil trees can be planted, with huge environmental consequences. Some are planted sustainably — another good reason to read labels. Watch for recyclable containers too.

Kelkin 350g €4.39

Top 8 peanut butters

In a plastic tub, this has 97.7% roasted peanuts, sea salt and palm oil. The brand contributes to the production of certified sustainable palm oil. Palm oil could have health benefits (vitamin E, low saturated fats), but processing may counter this. A good, creamy base has nice chunks of peanuts. With 0.6% salt, not too thirst making. 30% protein is a decent amount. Saturated fats at 11% and 6.8% fibre are acceptable.

Score: 7

Panda 340g €2.69

Top 8 peanut butters

In a plastic tub, 90% peanuts has added sugar and ‘fully hydrogenated palm oil’ with no mention of sustainability. Hydrogenated oils are usually heated so health benefits can be decreased. Here the added sugar is second on the list, ahead of the oil, and is very noticeable. Tasters did not like the sweetness. 90% peanuts is less than other samples with protein a relatively low 20%, but fibre a decent 11%.

Score: 5

Aldi Grandessa 340g €1.09

Top 8 peanut butters

With a decent 95% roasted peanuts and palm oil, 1% salt is high. Brown cane sugar is second on the list of ingredients with a moderate 24% protein. There is no mention of sustainability of the palm oil. In a plastic tub, the creamy base is quite salty and this overpowers the sweetness, yet there is quite good peanut flavour.

Score: 5.5

Lidl Mcennedy 454g €1.45

Top 8 peanut butters

In a recyclable glass jar, 95% peanuts is a decent amount, but there is brown cane sugar and palm oil with no mention of sustainable sources. Sea salt is 0.73%, protein a decent 28% and fibre a fair 7%. There seemed to be more crunchy bits in this sample in a less creamy base, but none the worse for that. Produced in Britain.

Score: 6

Whole Earth 340g €3.59

Top 8 peanut butters

95% roasted organic peanuts is a good proportion and there is no added sugar. The palm oil is organic and sustainable and there is a high 27.3% protein, though with a high 1% sea salt. All in all, a good list. It tasted good too, a little too salty perhaps, but this is better than added sugar to flavour it. The taste is natural and there are plenty of chunky bits. In a recycleable glass jar. Ticks a lot of boxes.

Score: 8

Tesco own brand 340g €1.20

Top 8 peanut butters

91% roasted peanuts has peanut oil next on the list followed by sugar and palm oil with no mention of sustainability. 27.2% protein and salt at 0.7% are good. In a plastic tub, the base is smooth and there are plenty of crunchy bits. Good peanut flavour and a good price.

Score: 7

Essential 350g €4.71

Top 8 peanut butters

From health/wholefood shops and in a glass jar, this is unique in having 100% organic peanuts and no added salt. Protein 25.8% and fibre at 8.5% gives us a clear picture of the nutritional value of peanuts alone. In addition, it is made in a British factory using energy from sustainable sources. The thinking person’s peanut butter, you can your own salt to taste. There is plenty of flavour without it.

Score: 8.5

Clearspring Bio Kitchen 350g €3.35

Top 8 peanut butters

With 99.4% organic peanuts, there is just enough sea salt (0.6%) added to bring out the flavour, proving all the additions of oil and sugar are quite unnecessary to make a tasty product. This is satisfying, smooth (with enough chunky bits) and delicious. Tasters added a mark for the good price. No nutritional values on the label, but we can take it that as natural as this that protein and fibre are as good as they can be. From health/wholefood shops.

Score: 9


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