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Nothing captures the nutty-buttery flavour of peanuts the way creamy, crunchy peanut butter does. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a cult favourite amongst both children and adults alike. Made primarily from roasted and ground peanuts, which when combined with oil produces the perfect emulsion. In some types of gourmet peanut butter, chocolate or other ingredients may be added. To make peanut butter at home, roast the peanuts on a slow flame till they turn light brown in colour. Once roasted, cool the peanuts quickly in order to prevent carry over cooking. This ensures that the natural oils remain intact. Take away the easily removable outer skin of the peanuts. Grind the peanuts with hydrogenated vegetable oil, sugar and salt as to taste. The oil acts as a natural stabilizer since it keeps the natural peanut oil from separating from the peanut butter and rising to the surface. However, since it won't have the added stabilizers that commercially produced peanut butter would, it is advisable to stir the home made peanut butter once in few days (since the oil may resurface to the top).
How to select
• While purchasing commercial peanut butter, ensure you check both the manufacturing and expiry date details.
• However, if you are preparing peanut butter at home, ensure to use good quality peanuts for the recipe.
• The most common, easy and perhaps the most favourite way of consuming peanut butter is in between two slices of bread or on a single toast.
• Peanut butter cookies, chocolate peanut butter bars, peanut butter and jam drops, are just some examples of the versatility of the product when used for baking.
• They can also be used innovatively in a variety of cheesecakes and pie crusts.
• Use them in combination with chocolate chips to make crunchy cakes.
• Apart from using it for desserts, one can use peanut butter as a base to make spicy peanut butter dressings for salads.
• It is also used to make sauces which is used in creating oriental cuisines.
• Peanut butter cookies and truffles are a favourite amongst little children.
How to store
• Being very high in fat content, peanut butter runs the risk of getting rancid, so proper storage is of utmost importance.
• Commercial varieties require no refrigeration and can be kept up to six months after opening.
• Homemade peanut butter should be refrigerated in tightly-sealed containers and ideally used within a couple of weeks.
• Turn the container upside-down occasionally to help redistribute the oils.
• However, please note that freezing is not a very good option for storing peanut butter.
• When badly preserved, it can host the mould Aspergillus flavus, which produces aflatoxin (a very toxic and carcinogenic substance), so your best bet is to always go with natural peanut butter.
• Peanut butter is a rich source of vitamins.
• It is a good source of Biotin, also called Vitamin H. Biotin is a member of the B-complex family which is essential for the normal metabolism of fat and protein as well as for the absorption of vitamin C. Biotin is also said to be good for the hair.
• Its rich folate and niacin (vitamin B3) content helps increase the HDL (good cholesterol) level by as much as 30%.
• In addition to this, peanut butter contains much higher quantities of antioxidants than apples or carrots. This is because it is an excellent source of vitamin E, a potent anti-oxidant which protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes from free-radical attack, thus helping prevent cancer.
• Proteins are present in high amounts together with moderate amounts of beneficial minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and calcium. Iron is essential for the correct functioning of your red blood cells, while calcium promotes healthy bones and shields against muscle spasms.