"‘I’m starting with my gold standard: All Natural Laura Scudder’s Nutty Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter,” my hubby Patrick announced ($3.59 for 16 ounces at Ralphs). Before him on the kitchen table stood a whole gang of peanut butter jars we had bought in a quest to find the perfect peanut butter. “Tastes like roasted peanuts, none of that phony peanut butter taste. And I like that you have to stir it before you eat it.”
“That’s what I don’t like,” I argued, “the stirring is messy, and the eating is drippy.”
“The stirring is a labor of love; it makes it personal,” waxed Patrick. “It’s like peanut butter foreplay...you’ve got to stir until conditions are perfect. Only then do you receive true peanut butter fulfillment.”
I pretended to not hear his analogy and moved on.
Simple Truth Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter had a sandy texture that was displeasing ($3.79 for 18 ounces at Ralphs).
Ralphs Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter ($2.69 for 16 ounces) was too salty, and Organics No Stir Crunchy Peanut Butter ($4.49 for 18 ounces at Vons) was too sweet.
“This has a significantly less salt taste than the Scudder’s,” announced Patrick, holding a spoonful of Organics Old Fashioned Crunchy Peanut Butter ($4.49 for 18 ounces at Vons). “You have to lick it off the roof of your mouth, but I like that. It’s the oral experience that is peanut butter fulfillment.”
The next one we popped open claimed to be “America’s Oldest Brand — Krema Peanut Butter Natural Crunchy ($3.99 for 16 ounces at Ralphs).
“Really hard to stir,” griped Patrick, “the stuff on the bottom will not yield. My old girl Laura Scudder is not so high maintenance. But a man needs to be persistent in these matters,” he laughed. “Some peanut butters need more stirring before they yield up their delights.”
“Needs a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor,” I added.
We dug into the Earth Balance Natural Peanut Butter and Flaxseed ($5.79 for 16 ounces at Sprouts). “This is the consistency of modeling clay, and it’s too chunky,” remarked Patrick. “Ironic its name is Earth Balance.”
Organic Once Again American Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter ($6.99 for 16 ounces at People’s Organic Food Market) suffered from sandy grit texture; Peanut Butter & Co. No-Stir Natural Crunch Time ($3.99 for 16 ounces at Sprouts) was so dry it cracked away from the sides of the jar. Extra Crunchy Skippy Natural ($4.99 for 15 ounces at Albertsons) featured an unpleasant glue-like texture.
We hit a winner with Raw Wild Jungle Peanut Butter ($13.65 for 12 ounces at People’s Organic). “Sometimes you like to get raw and wild with your peanut butter,” announced Patrick.
“Almost a fruity flavor in the middle,” I added, bringing my man back to the topic at hand, “but the texture is of runny Cream of Wheat. Sort of a different experience.” The jar claimed that profits support the native Achuar and Shuar peoples of Ecuador.
The saltiness in the 365 Peanut Butter Crunchy ($2.99 for 18 ounces at Whole Foods) overwhelmed the peanut flavor, and the Arrowhead Mills Crunchy Peanut Butter ($7.99 for 26 ounces at Whole Foods) lacked a hefty peanut flavor. But the MaraNatha Organic Roasted Peanut Butter ($6.49 for 16 ounces at Sprouts) harkened us back to the Raw Wild Jungle peanut butter. “Very creamy for a crunchy peanut butter,” added Patrick, “with that raw acidic hint to the flavor.”
Its cousin, MaraNatha All Natural No Stir ($5.99 for 16 ounces at Sprouts), missed the balance of crunchy and creamy. “I didn’t get a bit of crunch in that bite,” complained Patrick. “And these brands with palm oil have stiff consistency to them.”
“You mean like this?” I asked, holding a spoon of Golden Organics Crunchy upside down ($3.99 for 18 ounces at Whole Foods). “Gravity isn’t working one bit on it,” I laughed.
“I like the way I have to lick this one out of my molars,” announced Pat, holding the Trader Joe’s Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter ($2.79 for 16 ounces). “But it’s a bit salty. I prefer the Trader Joe’s Unsalted Crunchy [$2.79 for 16 ounces],” he added. “The aftertaste is the same as if I’d spent the afternoon cracking open peanut shells — perfection.”