Reader question… “I have been making a strong effort to eliminate processed foods from our diet and to eat more whole and healthy foods. One change we have made has been away from regular peanut butter to the peanuts only peanut butter. We like the taste but I’m finding it to be a real hassle the way the oil keeps separating. I have tried stirring and stirring and stirring but it never gets completely mixed up and when we get to the end of the jar I always find hardened peanut butter that didn’t get mixed in. Also the peanut butter stays too greasy because it never gets completely mixed. I’ve read your posts where you mention using all natural peanut butter and I’m thinking you must have some solution to this problem.” –Jeena

I agree… the instructions on the jar to “stir and refrigerate to reduce oil separation” are overly optimistic. Anyone who has tried to stir the oil back into natural peanut butter using a spoon or fork is going to find it hard going, I think, and it’s almost impossible even after a very thorough hand stirring to eliminate that solid peanut butter glob at the bottom of the jar. There are some easy solutions, though. Here’s what I do…

Using a flexible silicone spatula, I scrape the peanut butter (and oil) from one jar into a small mixing bowl and use my electric hand mixer to mix everything together. It only takes a few minutes to get the oil and solids completely mixed, and the flexible spatula makes quick work of getting the peanut butter back into the jar and off the beaters.

We eat a lot of peanut butter here, so I usually mix up two or three jars at a time… but I always mix each jar of peanut butter separately. I have found that when the peanut butter is thoroughly mixed, it does not separate again.

Or… there is actually an “award-winning invention” called a “natural peanut butter mixer.” This device looks like a jar lid and screws onto the top of the peanut butter jar. It has a handle coming out of the top center of the lid and a stirring rod coming out of the bottom center of the lid. The stirring rod fits down into the jar… when the handle is turned, the stirring rod mixes the peanut butter and oil together. When the stirring is reversed, a gasket cleans the stirring rod… the mixer is removed and the original lid is replaced on the jar.

It’s an interesting concept, but I’ll bet it doesn’t work any better than my even quicker hand mixer method!

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Comments

Kaitlyn

Why didn’t I ever think of that? Thank you thank you!

Olivia

I’m with Kaitlyn. I can’t believe I never thought of doing this either. I have tried forks, spoons, whisks – that was a disaster – and even my husband’s strong arm and the peanut butter still never got mixed properly. I only have the hard peanut butter mass at the bottom of the jar right now but the next jar of peanut butter we buy is going to get mixed with the electric mixer. What a great idea.

Kara D

You’ll all think I’m crazy, but I love the separated, hard peanut butter beneath the oil! I dump out the oil and keep the peanut paste.

Anita

Quick question. After you mix the oil back into the peanut butter, do you need to refrigerate it? We go through peanut butter pretty quickly, and I’ve never refrigerated it before.

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Anita, we don’t refrigerate our peanut butter either, but your question made me wonder… and inspired me to call the company. (An organic natural and Smucker’s Natural are what we’re using at the moment because so many other “natural” peanut butters are now labeled as being processed on the same equipment as products that contain soy… but that’s another story :o).) I have seen lots of information out there about how it is OK not to refrigerate the more processed peanut butters because the added ingredients act as preservatives, but that natural peanut butters MUST always be refrigerated once they are opened or the oil will go rancid. I just called the company and asked the question, and the customer service representative told me that natural peanut butter does NOT need to be refrigerated as long as you use it before the expiration date that is marked on the jar. She said that refrigerating the peanut butter will help to keep the oil from separating but that refrigeration is not needed for safety’s sake and that refrigerating the peanut butter will make it more difficult to spread. So take your pick. We just keep our peanut butter on a shelf in the pantry.

Jade

I actually have one of those little stirrer things. It was a gift from an aunt who has arthritis in her hands and really found hers to be a big help. I’m pleased with mine too. It does the job almost all the time except once in a great while it doesn’t quite get all of the hard stuff at the bottom. The hand mixer idea sounds like a good one though. I love this blog!

Uncomplicated Jo

There’s actually an easier solution. Get a hand mixer. Put in one beater only. Stick the beater in the jar of peanut butter. Mix.

You might need to stir and remove a bit first, depending on how much open space is available in the jar.

Robin~

One thing we’ve always done in our family (my mom always bought Laura Scudders natural PB just like I still do) is to store the jars on their tops, so that the oil goes “up” to the bottom of the jar. Then, when the jar we’re using is almost gone, I lay the new jar on it’s side for a while and then rotate it around every day or so until we’re ready to open it. Makes stirring much easier and helps with the dry lumps.

The other thing I do isn’t the most frugal, but the unsalted kind that I prefer comes in a smaller jar than the salted one so I keep the large jar to use all the time (and we do refrigerate) and stir in the contents of the smaller jar. I only need a butter knife and it mixes easily.

Dmarie

I am so lazy that sometimes I don’t even bother to stir my natural peanut butter…I just pour off the oil!

SharleneT

Growing up, it was my job to stir the peanut butter and the oil back together again. I hated it. But, I loved the peanut butter. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that my mother started using her mixer and the problem was solved. Although I love the idea of the mixer as a part of a jar lid, I’m not sure I have room for another small kitchen appliance. I do love the idea of the single beater in a larger jar, though, and think I’ll try that from now on.

Connie

Shirley, I tried your mixing peanut butter with the electric hand mixer tip and it worked beautifully. For the first time EVER we have peanut butter that is perfectly mixed. It even tastes better! I also tried the one beater method someone suggested but that did not work for me. The middle of the jar did get mixed but the shape of the jar and the shape of the mixer beater worked against each other and there was an area of peanut butter around the edges of the jar that the beater couldn’t reach (esp. at the bottom of the jar) that didn’t get mixed at all.

Anna

If you refrigerate the peanut butter upside down there is NO stirring! it’s the best food trick known to man.

Denise

Just stir in a little honey. It will thicken the peanut butter and make it more of a spreadable consistency, not runny, and it won’t separate on the shelf.