Taste Testing: Smucker’s All-Natural Peanut Butter

by Rachel on September 14, 2009

Fun fact: the spring of my senior year of college, I won a huge scholarship for writing this essay. Since I was graduating, I used the scholarship to cover me while I did a post-grad internship at Self magazine! Self has always been my favorite mag–it was my Bible when I started losing weight–so it was a really exciting internship. I met a lot of awesome people there…people who remembered me months later when they needed taste testers for their annual Healthy Food Awards! Apparently my passion for yummy food, healthy snacks, and, well, EATING is unforgettable.

The Healthy Food Awards are in the September issue, which is out now. And this weekend, I realized I needed some natural peanut butter for a recipe I’m making this week. I was going to buy Naturally More, which I’ve written about before, but then I remembered that there was a PB in Self, so it seemed like a great opportunity to try something new. And…that’s how I ended up with Smucker’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter!

The magazine says, “Whatever your PB needs might be–chunky, creamy, salty, sweet–you’ll go nuts for this version. And the list of ingredients is simply peanuts and salt.” Sounds good to me!

Now, I like PB and I eat it pretty often, but I am not a connoisseur by any means. Some people really, really love the stuff and are always trying new ones and touting how amazing they are. Eh, not me. I spend the extra cash on good, natural almond butter, and stick to the Jif my mom buys when it comes to peanuts. I’ve tried a few natural ones here and there, but it’s just not my forte. However, as I’m eating peanut butter more often, I know that I should be eating the natural stuff, so….Smucker’s it was!

The nutrition facts were good and pretty close to the not-so-natural Jif: two tablespoons have 210 calories, 16 grams of fat (2.5 saturated), 8 grams of protein, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of fiber. But the ingredients list is way shorter than Jif’s. There’s nothing erroneous/unpronounceable, which is always a bonus in my book.

If you’re unfamiliar with natural peanut butter, it’s different from typical peanut butter because the natural oils separate and you have to stir it well before you use it. Even when stirred, it’s still thinner and more oily (but although the oil is more visible, it doesn’t add extra fat). You also have to refrigerate it after you open it. You can read more about nut butters and natural butters in my post “Feeling Nutty.”

This morning at breakfast, I made the switch. Besides my smoothie (side note: 1/4 cup pumpkin + 1/2 fronana + vanilla smoothie = fastest way to foodgasm ever!! Definitely the winning combination!), I had a tablespoon of the Smuck on my whole wheat English muffin.

And…it was not at all what I expected. Because the blurb in Self said “salty, sweet,” I was expecting it to be, well, salty and sweet. It actually has a really deep flavor. It’s not one bit sweet. It’s actually kind of smoky. So…I got kind of pissed. I don’t have a major sweet tooth, but I was just confused by the misleading description. But I took my time with eating it, and here’s my verdict:

  • If you don’t like super-sweet or super-salty peanut butter, this is for you. It tastes more “natural” than any other natural peanut butter I’ve tried.
  • I think it would be better in recipes—cookies, Asian dishes—where you want a deep, robust flavor. (I don’t know how the hell I got the idea that I know what “robust” means in terms of food, but if you taste this stuff, you’ll see what I am talking about.) I can tell it will add a lot of depth when mixed with other ingredients.
  • If you are putting it with something sweet, like, say, its girlfriend jelly, then I think it would be fine.
  • After checking out the Smucker’s Web site, I figured out what Self means about it being “salty, crunchy, creamy.” Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter comes in all those varieties! Ohhhhh! GOT IT. So there is salted and unsalted creamy, crunchy, reduced-fat creamy, and honey. HONEY! Ohhhhhhh!!
  • The honey variety has about three extra grams of sugar per two tablespoons, which I can live with. I would definitely buy that.

I am going to use the basic creamy instead of Jif in my oatmeal, because I think the deep flavor will be great; I might toss a teaspoon of cocoa powder in there too to make it really sexy. But when it comes to decorating an English muffin or a banana, I am going to stick with almond butter or Jif…cause yeah, sometimes, I’m a rebel like that.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 erin September 14, 2009 at 1:01 pm

interestingly enough, for a few months i used that peanut butter. It was just so-so, i hated how it was so hard to mix! i used Jif’s all natural– and there were 5 ingredients in it! what the hey?! so now i’m on nature’s promise (giant brand) and have a no salt added. and all that’s in it is peanuts. Love it. and it’s easier to mix.

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2 Rachel September 14, 2009 at 3:52 pm

In a magazine last month I saw a kitchen device that was a big crank for stirring natural PB. I thought it was slightly ridic, but maybe it does have a place after all!

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3 Veggie Booty September 15, 2009 at 9:52 am

Rachel – that article you wrote was HILARIOUS!! And, SO on-point with what was going on in the media at that time. I’m glad you won!

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4 Rachel September 15, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Thank you! I almost didn’t win actually. There was one judge who really fought for me. MSU’s journalism school is pretty old-school and I tended to shake things up a bit. I think winning while being true to my own writing style was the best part about it.

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