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More Stories - The Way We Were
Since finding out that hubby Floyd had a serious congenital heart defect, which wasn't bothering him in the least at that time, we were even more vigilant that we used to be about trans-fats, sugars, weight gain (and exercise most of all). Even Floyd read labels when they aren't too tiny to see. I suggested he take a magnifying glass along to the supermarket, but so he chickened out of this idea.
I hadn't thought much about peanut butter for some time. I did know that years ago peanut butter, often thought of as a healthy staple, was often liberally laced with lard as well as sweeteners! A critical view of commercial peanut butter on the Mind What You Eat site: "Commercial peanut butter is degermed (removing the peanut heart before processing to increase its shelf life), and is effectively turned into a colourful brown liquid synthetic chemical slime. Sweeteners such as white sugar, corn syrup, dextrose are added to hide moldy, inferior and rancid peanuts in addition to hydrogenated oil (i.e. pig lard), emulsifiers and texturizers. The sum total of commercial processing including the use of bleached peanuts which dentures the peanuts and destroys nutrients renders the peanut butter a non-food hence a nutritional robbery and crime against the consumer."
This probably overstates the case, but maybe not by a whole lot.
Son Mark was here taking some classes for a year and a half, and he insists on natural peanut butter with nothing in it except ground up peanuts. I haven't ever been pleased with that kind, but went along. Why? (1) If you don't either eat it rapidly or refrigerate it, it goes rancid, (2) If you refrigerate it, forget trying to spread it on bread, (3) it's separated when you buy it, and turning it upside down to mix it doesn't work. It's a mess all around.
Finally we used up the last of it. So in a hurry, I bought just any old popular brand of peanut butter. When it was almost gone, Floyd got to looking at the label and decided we could do better health- and taste-wise. On his next shopping trip, he brought home another brand. "I think this one might be better," he said, "and it tastes great!".
I took a look at the label and my jaw dropped. Ingredients are listed in order of weight; first one was peanuts, second was sugar, third were several hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated tropical oils and the mess was topped off with stabilizers and preservatives. "Did you read the label?" I asked.
"Naw, the printing's too small. It just felt right."
Oh, well. So, after a survey of different brands of peanut butter, we went back to Mark's choice, Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter. Ingredients: peanuts and salt. It arrived from the store with an inch of natural peanut oil on the top. We turned it upside down in the refrigerator while we finished the good-tasting, easy-spreading chemically-enhanced junk.
Upon opening the jar, some of the oil had migrated to the top and ran down my hands, while the rest was still in the bottom. We tried to mix it with a butter knife but didn't do much except slop some more of the oil out of the jar. Finally with at least the top mixed and spreadable, we started using it. By the time we got down to the last 2 inches, we practically had to use a hammer and chisel to remove it.
Thereupon I tried an experiment, and it worked! See Whipped Peanut Butter.
(Hope it keeps working!)