Ingredient of the week: May 8-Peanut Butter
There are many claims about the origin of peanut butter. Africans ground peanuts into stews as early as the 15th century. The Chinese have crushed peanuts into creamy sauces for centuries. Civil War soldiers dined on 'peanut porridge.' These uses, however, bore little resemblance to peanut butter as it is known today.
In 1890, an unknown St. Louis physician supposedly encouraged the owner of a food products company, George A. Bayle Jr., to process and package ground peanut paste as a nutritious protein substitute for people with poor teeth who couldn't chew meat. Around the same time, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in Battle Creek, Michigan, began experimenting with peanut butter as a vegetarian source of protein for his patients. The Kelloggs' patent for the "Process of Preparing Nut Meal" in 1895 described "a pasty adhesive substance that is for convenience of distinction termed nut butter." However, their peanut butter was not as tasty as peanut butter today because the peanuts were steamed, instead of roasted, prior to grinding. The Kellogg brothers turned their attention to cereals which eventually gained them worldwide recognition.
In 1903, Dr. George Washington Carver began his peanut research at Tuskeegee Institute in Alabama. While peanut butter had already been developed by then, Dr. Carver developed more than 300 other uses for peanuts and so improved peanut horticulture that he is considered by many to be the father of the peanut industry.
One of the first companies to adopt this new process was Swift & Company for its E.K. Pond peanut butter ~ renamed Peter Pan in 1928. In 1932, Rosefield had a dispute with Peter Pan and began producing peanut butter under the Skippy label the following year. Rosefield created the first crunchy style peanut butter two years later by adding chopped peanuts into creamy peanut butter at the end of the manufacturing process.
In 1955, Procter & Gamble entered the peanut butter business by acquiring W.T. Young Foods in Lexington, Kentucky, makers of Big Top Peanut Butter. They introduced Jif in 1958 and now operate the world's largest peanut butter plant ~ churning out 250,000 jars every day!
What's your favorite way to enjoy it? In a sandwich or in a dessert like peanut butter cookies?