I’ll be the first to admit that I got a bit carried away with this taste test. It’s peanut butter, okay? It’s special. Some of you will understand and agree, and some of you will think I’ve lost my head. Never mind. We can’t all be right. James is a bit lukewarm about peanut butter, which is probably a good thing, really. His restraining influence is what stops me from having peanut butter at all three meals in a day. I mean, it’s a miraculous ingredient when you think about it. It can be used to good in savoury or sweet dishes. It’s also perfectly lovely on its own. Eaten by the spoonful. From the jar. No, you have a problem.

Anyway. Apart from liking crunchy peanut butter (because obviously), I’m not massively loyal to one particular brand. I like trying out new varieties. This is probably why I got a touch carried away and ended up buying, um, eight samples instead of the usual five. I just kept seeing jars of the stuff everywhere and thinking ‘Ooh, I’ve not tried that one yet!’ I am, unfortunately, a greedy and impulsive food shopper.

It was actually a great call for a taste test though (thanks Phoebe!) because there’s so much variety between different brands of peanut butter. Who knew!? Considering peanut butter is basically just blended peanuts, there’s a lot of different ways to make it, depending on ratios of peanuts to oil to salt. By the end of this taste test, I was slightly lost in the peanut butter wilderness. But very happily so.

As before, I feel I need a rambling disclaimer: obviously, I am doing this in my kitchen and not in a lab and I am not a scientist. These are the opinions of one person – that said, one person who has been trained to taste for quality. Also, the products used in this series are just examples – obviously each supermarket has, say, eight or nine different types of peanut butter or whatever the product may be, and I’m not going to try every single one because what am I, made of money?

Finally, I should highlight that I tasted all the products blind, and at the time of tasting and making my notes I didn’t know which product came from which shop. I sat in one room while my glamorous assistant (er, my husband), prepared the samples in another. Any notes added regarding packaging and so on were only done after blind tasting, when I learned which supermarket had made A, B, C, D, or E.

The Blind Taste Test: Peanut Butter

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Peanut Butter
per 100g
£
kcal
fat
carb
fibre
protein
salt
Meridian
0.71
596
46
11.6
8.5
29.6
0
Whole Earth
0.79
643
54.3
7.4
6.7
27.7
1.1
Waitrose
0.59
619
51.0
5.8
9.9
29.4
0.8
Sunpat
0.69
671
48.7
14.5
7.3
24.8
1.0
Pip & Nut
1.02
622
49
13
27
0.51
Grandessa – Aldi
0.29
612
49
15
7.2
25
0.81
Pic’s
0.92
590
48.4
9.6
7.7
30.3
0.5
Tesco
0.38
634
53.4
9.6
9.2
24.2
0.7

A – Whole Earth – 8/10

  • Very firm, reasonably dark in colour. Not separating. Crunchy, but with very small pieces of peanut – flakes rather than lumps. Includes little pieces of peanut shell, which give it a nice roasted flavour. Good level of saltiness. Nice peanut butter. Maybe a bit too thick.

B – Sunpat – 7/10

  • Much more golden and visually a bit chunkier than A. The bigger bits of peanut and suspended in a much lighter, creamier mixture, while A was almost a paste. Doesn’t coat your mouth or taste claggy – melts away. Flavour not as nice as A, could be saltier, but lovely texture.

C – Pic’s – 6/10

  • Quite separated – oil puddling on the spoon. Mixture left holding together well. Coats your mouth. Small-ish chunks of peanut. Not quite as much flavour as A and B, not salty enough.

D – Grandessa – Aldi – 7/10

  • Dark golden in colour, holding itself together very well – very firm texture. Creamy, with a nice saltiness. Not too claggy but not disappearing or melting away. Good chunks of peanut. A nice middle ground.

E – Tesco – 6/10

  • Very pale, maybe the palest. Holding itself together well, no separation. Big chunks of peanut. Quite salty, but also a bit sweet, compared to the others. Fairly creamy. Stays in your mouth a little, but not claggy.

F – Pip and Nut – 5/10

  • Interesting – looks completely different to almost all the others. Not just separation, but a very loose texture altogether. The peanuts taste really good, but it’s too runny – you want it to stay in the mouth more. Peanut butter needs more heft than this!

G – Waitrose – 6/10

  • Golden, quite dark, holding itself and keeping shape on spoon well. Both creamy and light, with a good mouth-feel. Not as good a flavour as some of the others, but a nice texture.

H – Meridian- 4/10

  • Big chunks of nut, quite a lot of separation, quite dark. Very claggy, coats the mouth. Not very much flavour – doesn’t taste salty enough, or even strongly enough of peanut.

Conclusion

So my winner here was Whole Earth – near the middle of the road, pricing wise – with honourable mentions to cheaper Sunpat and much cheaper Aldi. I was worried that with eight samples I would be completely overloaded and lose track, but actually, they were all incredibly different.

The interesting thing to note is that, for me at least, this was not a taste test where the most expensive products excelled. Generally, the pricier peanut butter has much nicer packaging, and also boasted more natural ingredients. However (sadly?) healthier here did not equate to tastier. Whatever they put in cheap peanut butter – lots of salt and oil, I’m afraid – just tastes better to me. Maybe I have an unsophisticated palette, but something like Pip and Nut, which had a great flavour, let itself down by being almost watery. You can see very easily from the sample on spoon F – you’d need to ladle this stuff onto your toast rather than spreading it.

Meanwhile, the stuff I thought tasted best – A, B, and D – all held its shape well on the spoon. I don’t know if this is a controversial opinion (I might get comments crying ‘no!’) but I actually like my peanut butter to coat the mouth a bit, and have a bit of weight and texture. If it just melts away then, well, you don’t get to enjoy the delicious peanut taste for long. And that’s sad. In a world so full of disappointment, let’s enjoy the things we do still have power over. Let’s get the cheap, sticky, delicious peanut butter.