Ever gone into the cabinet to grab your favorite jar of peanut butter for a PB&J to just find it looking runny? You may wonder to yourself, “Why is my peanut butter watery?”
Well, the peanut butter may seem watery, but it’s actually oily. Peanuts are high in natural oils, and when you grind them, the oil leaks out. While the jar of peanut butter won’t have a pool of oil on top initially, it’ll separate from the rest of the ingredients with time.
It’s important to understand whether the oil is a consideration for all peanut butter or just certain kinds. How do you tell when your peanut butter is starting to go bad?
How do you get it thick again once it’s watery? Keep reading to learn more about the composition of peanut butter and methods to preserve it as long as possible.
Does All Peanut Butter Get Watery?
It’s not uncommon to see that your peanut butter looks runny when you open it if it’s been sitting for a while. That happens to a lot of brands, but not all. Some peanut butter products have that oil on top, and some don’t.
But, if grinding peanuts releases the oils in them, that should happen each time, right? Well, that’s only partially correct. Don’t pour that oil out if you see it collected at the top of the jar. It’s an indication of how natural the product is.
The reason you’ll notice certain brands get that oil and others don’t start with what constitutes peanut butter.
Any peanut butter manufactured for sale in stores has to be made from a minimum of 90 percent peanuts and ten percent other ingredients.
Remember that when you grind peanuts, the oil escapes. That’s how you get the creamy texture. The oils return to liquid form at room temperature. The oil rises and pools at the top over time.
So if you don’t see that oil, it means your peanut butter has additives to keep it solid. That includes soybean, rapeseed, palm, or cottonseed oil. If you like organic peanut butter, you could always mix the oil back into the jar, but that gets messy.
If you pour it out, it will dry out your peanut butter.
The best way to reverse the situation is to flip the peanut butter container upside down and store it like that. The oil will “rise” again, except it’ll be back on the bottom when you’re ready to use it again.
Here are the primary differences between natural and commercial brands:
Natural Peanut Butter
- Separation occurs in natural peanut butter; therefore, you should stir before use.
- There’s no added salt or sugar in natural peanut butter, but it can vary based on the manufacturer.
- Natural peanut butter usually isn’t as smooth because there’s not as much homogenization and blending.
Commercial Peanut Butter
- The store-bought peanut butter gets blended well to make it creamy and smooth.
- To avoid the peanut butter separating, it gets blended with a stabilizer such as one of the oils mentioned above (less than one to two percent).
- Store-bought peanut butter might contain sugar or salt for added flavor.
What’s Happening When Peanut Butter Becomes Watery?
Peanut butter is manufactured so that companies use particular preservatives to allow the nut butter to retain its consistency. However, as time passes and the peanut butter is stored at room temperature, the oil will naturally rise to the top above the other ingredients.
Oil is a light substance in terms of weight, and therefore it tends to float over denser ingredients in the same way it behaves with water. Crushing peanuts into a paste to make peanut butter releases the very high-fat content into the mix, allowing the other components to float around.
This is when the denser particles sink to the bottom, and the lighter oils remain at the top. The runnier your peanut butter becomes, the less shelf life it will have in the future.
To fight against this, you can simply mix your peanut butter every time you open it. This will help to keep the oils and particles together.
What You Can Do to Prevent Watery Peanut Butter
If you wish to keep your peanut butter the same consistency, the best way to do this is to simply refrigerate it. Having your peanut butter at room temperature or warmer causes the particles to separate from the oils.
By lowering the temperature of the peanut butter, the separation won’t take place, and your peanut butter will remain the same consistency. You can even store the peanut butter in the freezer to prevent the separation, but you will have to deal with the fact that the peanut butter may be too hard to spread or even eat.
However, organic peanut butter may separate even if you place it in the refrigerator because of the lack of preservatives.
The refrigerator slows down the particles preventing them from moving as freely. In other words, the consistency of the peanut butter remains solid, with the only downside being that it will be more difficult to spread.
The best way to deal with hard peanut butter is to take smaller portions when spreading it. This will be much more manageable than trying to spread an entire chunk.
Below are the answers to commonly asked questions concerning peanut butter and when it goes bad.
Is peanut butter still good if it’s watery?
The simple answer is yes! Watery peanut butter is still good. To get the peanut butter back to its normal state, allow the oil to redistribute back through the entire jar.
You can do this by stirring it or flipping it upside down and allowing it to rest for a second.
How to tell if peanut butter has gone bad?
Fresh peanut butter should be creamy and soft.
Below are indicators that your peanut butter had gone bad:
- Dry and hard peanut butter that nearly impossible to spread
- Peanut butter that had turned significantly darker
- Peanut butter that has lost its signature smell
- Peanut butter that smells like anything else other than peanut butter or peanuts
- Peanut butter that tastes bitter, sour, soapy, or strange
Can you do anything with peanut butter oil?
You can choose to stir the oil, which pools at the top of peanut butter, back into the peanut butter, or you can pour it out and use it for a recipe.
For example, peanut oil burns at higher temperatures; this makes it perfect for Asian-style cuisine that utilizes peanut flavor in certain dishes such as stir-fry.
If you have peanut butter in the pantry and you notice it’s a bit runny on top, don’t fret! It’s an indication that you have quality peanut butter with fewer additives.
Remember to follow the tips provided to prevent the oil from rising to the top, and if all else fails, flip it upside down.