Stirring peanut butter
October 28, 2006 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Is there a neat trick for stirring up natural/old-fashioned peanut butter?

I prefer the pure nuts-and-salt taste and gritty texture of stir-it-yourself peanut butter. But I get oil everywhere trying to work it through a full jar, and I never seem to do a thorough job, because the bottom of the jar is usually a little chalky. It's even harder once the jar's been refrigerated. Has anyone discovered any techniques for stirring up oil-on-top peanut butter? Or am I the only one inept enough to have this problem?
posted by climalene to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I store my jar on its side - makes it much easier to stir.

And I don't think you need to refridgerate it. My jar of Smuckers says: "Refridgerate to reduce oil seperation".
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 5:01 PM on October 28, 2006

There ain't a better mousetrap made, that the Google doesn't know about.
posted by paulsc at 5:07 PM on October 28, 2006

that's funny paulsc... myself, when I buy the jar I turn it upside down for a day or two then open, then store in fridge.
posted by edgeways at 5:12 PM on October 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Put a knife into it and stir it. Just be patient as to not have peanut butter go over the edge. I does take me about 5 minutes to do it thoroughly.

The bottom for me is always a little more solid than the top, but I deal with it. If it's really bad at the bottom, just add a little olive oil and stir that in.
posted by Camel of Space at 5:35 PM on October 28, 2006

Stir with a skewer: ideally one with a ring-end to grip.
posted by holgate at 6:28 PM on October 28, 2006

My Kitchenaid hand mixer has an attachment called a Liquid Blender Rod. Its designed for, say, mixing a protein shake. However, it rules for mixing up peanut butter.

If you refrigerate it after mixing, I haven't experienced any post-separation.
posted by donguanella at 6:56 PM on October 28, 2006

I dump it into a stand mixer. Takes seconds, and cleaning it up is no worse than the oil down the side from the traditional stirring-with-a-knife method.

After you get it all homogenized, store it in the fridge and it won't separate again.
posted by bink at 6:58 PM on October 28, 2006

I use a fork and mix the oil into the top ~3/4 inch of peanut butter with the tines. Once the oil's mixed in and won't slop over the sides I use the whole fork to mix the bottom layer with the "oily" top layer.
posted by robinpME at 7:06 PM on October 28, 2006

At many natural grocery stores (including Whole Foods) you can grind your own peanut butter. The fresh ground stuff tastes better than even the natural style bottled stuff, and, here's the kicker, it doesn't separate. I guess the separation takes lots of time, and I've never had a fresh ground peanut butter long enough for it to separate. No separation = no oily mess!
posted by ohio at 7:16 PM on October 28, 2006 [3 favorites]

I find piercing the entire thing with chopsticks helps the oil run to the bottom. Makes stirring a little less dangerous.
posted by scarabic at 7:17 PM on October 28, 2006

I'm with Edgeways: I store the unopened bottles upside down, and flip them just before opening and stirring them for the first time.

You still have to be careful but it's a lot easier if they've spent a couple of days upside down first.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:21 PM on October 28, 2006

Nobody's mentioned warming up the peanut butter first. The brand I buy comes in a glass jar so I microwave the lidless jar for one minute (500 gm jar). Once warm the peanut butter is easy to scoop into a bowl to mix together with a spatula then scoop back into the original jar. Store in the fridge.
posted by jholland at 8:10 PM on October 28, 2006

Interesting, scarabic... I always stab ours with the stirring knife before actually stirring it. Patience is indeed important. We never put ours in the fridge...can't stand cold peanut butter.
posted by lhauser at 8:11 PM on October 28, 2006

I'm with jholland. One minute in the microwave sans lid makes it effortless to use a broad-bladed butter knife to stir the peanut butter around in the jar vigorously, without spilling, no bowl-transfer necessary. If this process weren't very easy indeed, I would have given up natural p.b. long ago. After it's stirred, refrigerate and it'll stay stirred.
posted by Eater at 10:23 PM on October 28, 2006

huh, i thought i read this on the green some time ago. the advice given was to open up a hole in the middle of the peanut butter with a knife by putting the knife all the way down to the bottom of the jar and moving the knife to the side.

that way all the oil goes down toward the bottom, and makes stirring the peanut butter much easier/safer. sort of like robinpME's method above.
posted by joeblough at 11:15 PM on October 28, 2006

I gave up on stirring. Now I just reach down in the solid stuff with a spoon and scoop it out. It gets a bunch of oil on it when you bring it out, and I mix it up while smearing it on the bread.
posted by Manjusri at 12:43 AM on October 29, 2006

I use jholland's method. But when it doesn't work out, I add more oil to the bottom, like Camel of Space. Except that I use peanut oil.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:09 AM on October 29, 2006

This is great. Had I the time, I would make a flowchart of the options available to me, because there are many. In the past I have tried flipping the jar, and I've tried any number of methods of careful stirring with a knife, spoon, or chopstick, and those weren't quite magical enough for me. I will give stirring another chance, but here are the new ideas I'm most excited about:

a. Put it in the microwave.
b. Transfer it to a bowl and stir it there, then return it to the jar with a rubber scraper.
c. Add oil to the bottom of the jar if it gets dry.
d. Don’t refrigerate it. I don’t know how this will fly, but I really hate cold peanut butter, too (and I swear my peanut butter re-separates even in the fridge -- maybe because it's poorly stirred).

paulsc, if you or anyone else has tried that contraption, I would love to know how well it works.
posted by climalene at 7:04 AM on October 29, 2006

Late to the party, but storing the jar upside down for at least a few days has made all the difference in the world for me in the past.
posted by dersins at 12:54 PM on October 29, 2006

b. Transfer it to a bowl and stir it there, then return it to the jar with a rubber scraper.

That's what I do. It seems like more work, but I find it's actually less mess in the end. Less spilling oil everywhere.
posted by GuyZero at 2:17 PM on October 29, 2006

This caught me five days into a week long experiment, so I terminated early in order to share preliminary results with the public.

I stored my peanut butter (with occasional shaking) upside-down for two days, then right-side up for a day, then upside down for a day, then right-side up again. I just now opened it and stirred down to the bottom with a knife to see how well mixed it was. It was about 90% mixed with just a few less well mixed lumps lurking in the center.
posted by Huplescat at 2:33 PM on October 29, 2006

I can't believe how much effort you people all put in. I stopped putting mine in the fridge and now it doesn't get all crusty at the bottom, and is easier to spread. It doesn't say anywhere that you have to refrigerate it on the Canadian brand that I buy.
posted by SoftRain at 2:40 PM on October 29, 2006

The brand I sometimes get is way too runny if you don't refrigerate it. But, you don't need any special attachments, just use a regular old hand mixer, but only put one of beaters on. Mix until mixed.

Then lick the beater clean. Much healthier than cookie dough, but maybe not quite as good.

Warming it up first is a good idea, though. I'll try that next time.
posted by sevenless at 8:26 PM on October 29, 2006

I second the Amazon link. My brother got me one and it's magic. MAGIC, I tell ya.
posted by electroboy at 7:44 AM on October 30, 2006

I do the upside-down store method, as well as microwave. I do not like cold peanut butter, so I nuke it before I eat it.

Maybe I'll just store it in the pantry now, not the fridge.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 11:10 AM on October 30, 2006

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