OPINION COLUMNS

Pondering peanut butter; Reporter shares his favorite recipes, tips

By David Talley | Published Saturday, August 26, 2017
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If we’ve talked for any extended amount of time, you know there’s not much I love more in this world than peanut butter.

I wrote a column about a year ago sharing some of my favorite college recipes and food tips, which included peanut butter recipes, and I’d like to expand on that now with specific ideas and tips for that jar of brown goodness in your pantry.

David Talley

David Talley

First off, while I haven’t found any type of peanut butter that I didn’t like, it’s probably better (and better for you) to use some sort of healthy peanut butter like Jif Natural, Peanut Butter and Co., Earth Balance, Justin’s or Smucker’s Natural. All of these are available at Walmart and really aren’t that much more expensive than generic stuff. I think they taste better and with the quantities of peanut butter I eat, it’s probably better to have peanut butter that at least tries to be healthy.

Other nut butters, including almond, coconut and sunflower have places here. They’re generally more expensive, but we’ll discuss them.

THE CLASSIC

This is your staple. A good peanut butter sandwich is basically my mark for how good of a chef someone is. If you’re making lunch every day for yourself or your kid, it pays dividends to make a good sandwich. I’d suggest toasting the bread. Even if served later, this makes the sandwich subtly crunchy. I’ve noticed toasting seems to reduce jelly leaking through the bread, too.

Speaking of jelly, right now I’m on a blackberry kick. It’s key here to match your jelly to your peanut butter. Don’t spring for a honey or white chocolate peanut butter because you’re already getting the sweetness from the jelly. Almond butter works really well here and can match well with a blackberry jelly or even an orange marmalade.

The coconut and sunflower butters I’ve had might not be suitable because they were sweeter, but if you’re preparing lunch for a kid with allergic classmates, you might consider them. Any sweetened nut butter will work well solo on a sandwich.

DIP IT

This is the quick snack. Apples and peanut butter go together like Forrest and Jenny. My perennial favorite is Granny Smith and a honey sweetened peanut butter. I previously used the Peanut Butter and Co. cinnamon raisin peanut butter for dipping, but I haven’t been able to find it in stores in more than a year.

Like your sandwich jelly, which is essentially fruit, it’s key here to match your peanut butter and your apple. You don’t want anything too sweet. If you’re going to use a Honeycrisp or Red Delicious, I’d recommend an unsweetened nut butter. Almond butter and Honeycrisp is a good, albeit expensive, combo.

THE PORTABLE

Use a tortilla. I’m serious. A flour or wheat tortilla is a great medium for your peanut butter sandwich.

While a little creative folding can ensure that no drippage takes place, it’s probably better to cup any peanut butter sandwich or tortilla with a paper towel, that way you get to enjoy all of it, instead of just what stays in your sandwich. Bigger tortillas work better here for the simple reason you can spread more peanut butter on them.

I’ve found that using your peanut butter solo works better than trying to include another substance like jelly or honey. You want less of the aforementioned drippage. Spring for a flavored nut butter, something with honey, agave or cinnamon.

Do not try to cook the peanut butter on the tortilla in a pan like a quesadilla. I tried it in college, and the fumes from burned peanut butter almost got me kicked out my rent house.

THE BAD IDEA

Another inadvisable peanut butter recipe is the peanut butter and ramen endurance meal I made sophomore year before a bicycle ride. I was looking for something with protein and carbs. It didn’t work. It was essentially like drinking warm peanut butter. Don’t do it.

BREAKFAST

Peanut butter does go well with oatmeal. Try a sweetened peanut butter with dried fruit in your oatmeal. With both, you don’t need additional sweetening and you’ve got extra protein and some of your fruit servings.

DESSERT

While I’d consider most of these dishes a delicacy, Reese’s had the right idea putting peanut butter and chocolate together. Put a twist on that with dark chocolate dipped or spread on with unsweetened peanut butter.

David Talley is a Messenger reporter and resident peanut butter expert.

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