Peanut butter is a staple in all of our kitchens, not just for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but for desserts and savory dishes too. Since we use so much of it, we often wonder if it's worth spending the extra bucks on organic and natural versions. We understand the health benefits of not eating partially hydrogenated oils and other preservatives, but when it comes to natural vs. regular peanut butter is there a difference in taste?
As we are wont to do, we made a bunch of our colleagues taste their way through this question. We tasted a regular peanut butter, a natural peanut butter and an organic peanut butter in a blind taste test to find out. Here are the gritty details:
- Of our eight testers, only two correctly identified the organic peanut butter, three guessed the regular peanut butter and four knew which was the natural peanut butter.
- Regular beat natural on taste by only two points, but the organic peanut butter got left in the dust taste-wise. (The organic peanut butter was a different brand than the other two, so it's very possible that another organic peanut butter might fare better.)
- Most of our tasters noted that the regular peanut butter had a slightly gritty texture, which is probably due to the added sugar, but also surprised us since the presence of partially hydrogenated oils traditionally emulsifies peanut butter into silky smoothness.
The Favorite: Peter Pan Creamy
Our tasters recognized this as the sweetest peanut butter, but also commented that the texture was a bit gritty.
Ingredients: roasted peanuts, sugar, less than 2% of: hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed and rapeseed), salt, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil.
The Close Second: Peter Pan Natural
A few tasters noted that the peanuts tasted "heartier" in the natural version, and nearly everyone remarked on the oily sheen that rested on top of this version.
Ingredients: roasted peanuts, sugar, fractioned palm oil, salt.
Last Place: 365 Organic
Most of our tasters agreed that this just wasn't sweet enough, although it did end up being a few people's favorite, and was texturally the creamiest. We'll probably continue to use this one for our savory peanut butter recipes.
Ingredients: organic dry roasted peanuts, organic expeller pressed palm oil, organic cane sugar, sea salt.