Jif Natural Peanut Butter Spread

January 6, 2010
What it is: A peanut butter spread made without hydrogenated oils
How it comes: 18-ounce and 28-ounce jar
Where it is: In supermarkets or at Bite of the Best shop
Who it's for: Any peanut-butter lover
Suggested retail price: $2.70; $4.15
Nutrition notes: No transfats and only 75 milligrams sodium per two-tablespoon serving
Category: Fabulous Food: A healthy twist

Bonnie: Jif is now offering Natural Peanut Butter Spread containing only five ingredients, half the sodium of regular peanut butter and three grams of saturated fat.

This new, natural product cannot be called “peanut butter” because it does not fit the federal government’s standard of identity. (That’s a description of what a food may or may not contain to be marketed under that food’s name in interstate commerce.) That standard for peanut butter requires 90 percent peanuts and, if a stabilizer is used, partially or fully hydrogenated oil.

Jif Natural does contain 90 percent peanuts but uses palm oil as the stabilizer. Since palm isn’t hydrogenated, Jif Natural can’t be called peanut butter, even though palm oil contains no trans fats, which is good health-wise. So is its containing only 75 milligrams sodium per two-tablespoon serving, or about half that of most regular brands.

It tastes good, too.

As for peanut butter vs. peanut butter spread, I’ll bet most people not only couldn’t care less, they’d never even notice that description on the label.

Bryan: You’re probably asking yourself right now: “Why wouldn’t I want to eat the ‘natural’ variety of Jif? Why wouldn’t I want to eat the ‘natural’ variety of anything?” And then the memory comes rushing back of your childhood peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the big glass of milk accompanying it and everything being right with the world. Why would you want to mess with that picture of perfection, even if there might be some “unnatural” components?

This seems to be the main objection whenever our favorite foods are reformulated; there is just something about those original flavors! Well, Jif Natural actually is something completely different. It’s not really a normal peanut butter, and for me, it’s not really vying to be a replacement to my regular Jif. Jif Natural is not quite as creamy, with a lighter, thinner consistency that is much easier to spread. Think regular peanut butter, but melting on a warm piece of toast. Its texture lends itself to different uses. Though I still prefer a thicker pb for my pbj, I already prefer the Jif Natural for dipping pretzels and fruit. It is also quite interesting as an ice cream topping, after just a few seconds in the microwave.

If you’ve ever experienced all-natural peanut butter before (I have, as my father was a big fan of the local health food store, where you could grind your own), you probably know about the standard separation of the oil from the peanuts. The result was a constant need for stirring, a constant annoyance. Fortunately, there’s no need to stir with Jif Natural Peanut Butter Spread; palm oil has been used to stabilize. Though the Jif Natural will not have a layer of oil to be stirred in, don’t be surprised by the thin layer of palm oil giving it a glossy shine.

This is truly tasty stuff, and not as heavy as a normal peanut butter. The only unfortunate feature is a labeling snafu requiring that the product be called “peanut butter spread.” As Bonnie has pointed out, federal standards require hydrogenated oils to be present for a product to be called a “peanut butter.” Blah, blah, blah… This is peanut butter, plain and simple. Keep in mind, though, that while it may be natural, it isn’t necessarily healthier than regular peanut butter, having about the same amounts of saturated fat and sugar. Just something different (and something good) for your pantry!

Eric: As a peanut butter aficionado, Jif Natural reminds me of the freshly ground peanut butter I used to get from the local health food store when I was younger. I would always look forward to pulling the lever on the machine (with the giant smiling peanut), watching the heaping pile of peanuts begin to disappear only to emerge as the most delicious all-natural peanut butter you could find – no added stabilizers, oils or salts. It wasn’t until I started testing food that I realized how much I missed the unadulterated peanut butter of my youth.

In the past, we’ve reviewed dark roasted peanut butter, as well as chocolate peanut butter, each leaving an indelible impression on my palette. The Jif Natural Peanut Butter Spread did more than just leave an impression; it helped me to reminisce. When a product can do that, it’s certainly worth sharing.

Now available at the Bite of the Best shop.

10 Comments on “Jif Natural Peanut Butter Spread”

  1. judyskitchen Says:

    This product has me confused. I buy natural peanut butter, with no added sugar. It is not called “peanut butter spread, and it has no hydrogenated oils.”

  2. Bonnie Tandy Leblang Says:

    Judy — according to the FDA, while stabilizers are not required, many peanut butters today include stabilizers. Obviously yours natural one does not. The FDA states that “Seasoning and stabilizing ingredients that perform a useful function are regarded as suitable, except that artificial flavorings, artificial sweeteners, chemical preservatives, and color additives are not suitable ingredients in peanut butter. Oil products used as optional stabilizing ingredients shall be hydrogenated vegetable oils… hydrogenated vegetable oil shall be considered to include partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.”

    Hope that helps explain it!

  3. beckyivey545 Says:

    I submitted a comment a lonnnnngggg time ago…or so it seem. I love my ninja…I’m on my fifth one….every two weeks or so it strips it’s gears and I take it back and trade it in on a working one. I have contacted the company (their web page says they will replace any part free) by email and their response was …”this is not the proper place to register your complaint”….”contact customer service”…I didn’t wait to see if a pattern developed….It is a big hassel but if I take the ninja back the same time I need to go there anyway it is not too much trouble to pick up another one.
    I have been shocked by all of the sucessful people …as I am not clumsy, or stupid, I can feel when when the motor is on properly……I don’t fill it too full…don’t pulse 20 seconds ????????????????……..but I sure love that snow

  4. Loretta Says:

    Ok…i just saw an ad for this product in Homes and Gardens. It says it has only 5 ingredients and doesn’t need stirring (which I hope Laura Scudder’s is taking note…).
    Besides the peanuts, palm oil and salt…what are the other two ingredients? Sugar and …?

  5. Bonnie Tandy Leblang Says:

    The five ingredients are: peanuts, sugar, palm oil, salt, molasses.

  6. Peter Ray Says:

    Does anybody know of a peanut butter brand that is stabilized but has no sugar? I find most brands way too sugary but I’m not a health nut that needs 100% natural anything. I just want a decent-tasting peanut butter that doesn’t separate its oil.

  7. aud Says:

    extra sugars and oils should not be necessary in peanut butter.

  8. Joanne Says:

    I just purchased a jar of Jiff all Natural Crunchy peanut butter. I love the regular Jiff because I’ve always thought that it tastes the most like real whole peanuts and I like the taste of the All Natural Jiff as well. However, I was quite surprised and disappointed to see the second ingredient listed after peanuts is palm oil. Processed palm oil is very bad for you. In it’s natural form (which I doubt is the form Jiff uses), it’s better than pure vegetable oil, but why put it into an all natural product. People see all natural on the label and assume it’s better for them. In this case, we’re better off buying the regular Jiff, as it contains regular vegetable oil. I know why they use palm, it keeps the peanut butter emulsified and extends it’s shelf life, but, I’d rather stir the product and use it faster than to consume palm oil.

  9. Beth Says:

    We just visited the zoo where there were signs talking about how production of palm oil is destroying the natural habitat of many species. Makes me reconsider buying any product that uses palm oil as a main ingredient. I’ll stick with natural peanut butter that I have to stir.

  10. Loyds1000 Says:

    This is pretty good (taste like peanuts) but is WAY to sweet. It actually has an after taste like you just ate a spoon full of granulated sugar. Will definitely appeal to those with a sweet tooth and kids, but is all that sugar (3 grams sugar AND molasses) really needed? It really takes away from the taste and conditions us to expect extreme sweetness in something as basic as peanut butter. I don’t really have a problem using palm oil as a stabilizer. That is healthier than some other alternatives but might not be as healthy as just peanut oil. It stays mixed pretty well with the palm oil if that is an issue. It has reduced salt, which is also good. Maybe it is so sweet to compensate or reducing the salt makes the sugar taste much stronger??

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