Can You Freeze Peanut Butter? Yes, You Can!
It must be said we have probably all made the mistake of finding one of our favorite peanut butters on offer in the store and buying a lot of it! After numerous sandwiches, smoothies, cookies, popsicles, dog treats and more, there always seems to be some left. If at this point it is getting near its ‘best before’ date, then freezing the remainder is an option.
If you like to make your own peanut butter from scratch, then being able to store some of it in the freezer for longer also offers you the opportunity to make it in bulk.
Dare I say, you may also be not as keen on peanut butter, or you may choose to only have it as an occasional treat due to dietary restraints. Rather than having to throw out a half-eaten jar, then why not consider freezing it?
There is some debate around how well peanut butters does freeze, so in this post, I look in detail at freezing peanut butter, including which types of peanut butter freeze best, the ways in which you can freeze it and how you should thaw it after freezing
Storing Peanut Butter Without Freezing
Before looking in detail at freezing peanut butter, it is important to consider that peanut butter is already a shelf stable food because of its high oil and low moisture (around 2%) content and it will last a year or so under normal pantry conditions, even when open. It will keep for even longer when refrigerated.
When unopened, peanut butter should be stored in a cool and dry place away from any light sources. The National Peanut Board say that an open jar of peanut butter will keep fresh in the pantry for up to three months, after which point you should store it in the refrigerator where it can last for another three to four months.
Some peanut butters will specify that they should be refrigerated once open and you should follow this advice as it will help reduce separation.
Although peanut butter is shelf stable, if you do live in a humid and warm climate, it may not last as long as it could do, even when unopened.
Over time and with exposure to oxygen, the oils in peanut butter start to break down and turn rancid. This is a chemical process in which the molecular structure of the fats is broken down, causing changes in the aroma and flavor of the food.
Other types of fats undergo rancidification much sooner than peanut butter and this is probably because they may not contain as much vitamin E. Because peanut butter contains this natural antioxidant, it helps give it the longer shelf life as it helps prevent oxidation.
The ‘best before’ date on peanut butter is there to let you know that if stored correctly, the risk of rancidification before this date will be minimal.
A jar of peanut butter that has gone rancid is still safe to eat, it will just not taste particularly nice!
Best Style of Peanut Butter for Freezing
A pure or natural peanut butter should freeze reasonably well and in theory, you will not lose any of the PB’s texture or flavor. Peanut butters labeled as pure or natural should just contain peanuts, although it is worth checking as some may contain a little salt or even sugar.
Peanut butter is made with shelled, roasted and ground peanuts and may have stabilizers and seasonings (such as salt) added to it. Under Federal Regulations, a product labeled as peanut butter mut always contain at least 90% peanuts while a peanut butter spread will contain less than 90% peanuts.
However, some peanut butters containing extra additives such as oils and preservatives and some types of peanut butter spreads may not freeze as well as a natural peanut butter. In some cases, they may not freeze at all.
There is also an assumption that if you freeze a jar of peanut butter, this will cause the oil and butter to separate to the point that they cannot be mixed (emulsified) back together. This is not true. When freezing and then defrosting pure peanut butter, there will be the same oil and butter separation that you encounter when opening the jar from the pantry or refrigerator.
Once a pure peanut butter has been defrosted, you just need to blend it thoroughly before spreading on your bread.
This separation or syneresis observed in pure peanut butter is actually nothing to be concerned about, as annoying as some of us find it! This happens when the oil separates from the nuts (solids) at warmer temperatures. Peanut butters or peanut butter spreads that contain stabilizers do not separate as much as the role of stabilizers is to prevent the separation.
If you do make homemade peanut butter, then a smoother butter will keep better rather than one which contains larger chunks of peanut.
If you are unsure whether your peanut butter or peanut butter spread will freeze, then it is worth doing a test freeze and thaw on a small quantity first. That way if it does not freeze well, you will not be out the cost of a full jar of peanut butter.
How to Freeze Peanut Butter
The longer peanut butter is left in the freezer, the more it will start to decay and lose some of its flavor. Depending on the peanut butter, it should last for six or so months in the freezer before it starts to lose some of its flavor. As time goes by, it may also develop a stale taste from it being stored in the freezer.
Before freezing, consider whether you are freezing a whole jar, part jar or would prefer to portion it out as you will need to freeze these in slightly different ways.
Freezing A Whole Jar of Peanut Butter
If you want to freeze a whole jar of peanut butter and it is a glass jar, be aware that peanut butter can expand while freezing. This means there is a small risk of the glass jar cracking. You can avoid this by opening the top and removing the seal before freezing. Once the peanut butter is frozen, you can then replace the lid.
Similarly, when thawing, loosen the lid and then re-tighten once thawed.
Do keep an eye on the jar as it freezes over. A full jar can take six hours or more to freeze properly.
Remember that once a full jar has been defrosted, you will not be able to freeze it again and its shelf life, even in the refrigerator, will be shorter than a jar that has never been frozen.
Freezing an Open Jar of Peanut Butter
If you have a part jar of peanut butter, then it is better to empty it into an airtight container rather than leave it in the jar. You could also use a Ziplock bag, but this can be messier to deal with once defrosted.
If you go for the Tupperware option, try to choose a container which will be about the same size as the amount of peanut butter left. This means there will be the minimal amount of air left in the container.
If after filling the container there is quite a bit of space left, then place some plastic wrap over the peanut butter before putting the lid on the container to prevent the excess air from getting to the peanut butter. Likewise, if you use a Ziplock bag, always remove the excess air before zipping it up and placing it in the freezer.
Freezing Small Portions of Peanut Butter
My preference is always to freeze things like peanut butter in smaller portions, so you can just take some out as you need it. You can freeze individual portions in ice cube trays. Once these are frozen, in around an hour or so, they can then be pushed out and placed into a Ziplock bag or airtight container.
A standard ‘ice cube’ serving is around 2 tablespoons – a decent portion for spreading on your sandwich and for calorie control purposes. These small portions will only take around 30 minutes to defrost.
As with freezing a whole jar, avoid refreezing peanut butter once it has been frozen and whichever way you freeze it, remember to write the name of the peanut butter and the date that you put it in the freezer on the bag or Tupperware. This helps ensure it does not end up forgotten about at the bottom of the freezer.
Freezing Other Types of Nut Butter
Like peanut butter, other commercial or homemade nut butters such as almond, hazelnut and cashew are also suitable for freezing. Just take note of the considerations above for peanut butter around additives and the like. If possible, keep with pure butters for freezing and be aware that not all nut butters will freeze solid due to their oil content.
Defrosting Peanut Butter
You can pop smaller portions of peanut butter out on the countertop to thaw before using, but because of the risk of separation with pure butters, you may want to place it in the refrigerator to defrost.
If you have frozen a full jar or large container of peanut butter, then it is usually safer to place it on a plate and leave it to defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
A peanut butter with added oil is usually fine to defrost out on the countertop as it is less likely to separate.
You should not defrost peanut butter with heat i.e. in the microwave, unless you add it as a frozen ingredient to a recipe that you will then be heating. In theory though, if you are eating it straight away, you could thaw a portion in a bag in a bowl of warm water.
Once peanut butter has been defrosted then keep it refrigerated. It also goes without saying that if you that if you are in any doubt when you defrost peanut butter - or indeed any other food - then throw it out!
Other Ways to Freeze Peanut Butter
Of course, another way is to use up excess peanut butter to make it into cookies, brittle, peanut butter cups, fudge or other tasty treats and then freeze.
You can also make up PB&J sandwiches and freeze them, which is a great cheat for brown bag lunches. You will need to spread a thin layer of peanut butter to both slices of bread and add the jelly. It is important to always put peanut butter on both slices as this acts as a barrier to stop the jelly from reaching the bread and turning it soggy. Once you have made the sandwich, shrink wrap it or place it in a baggie.
You can make up a whole loaf this way and place the ready made sandwiches in the freezer. Just take out a frozen sandwich in the morning, pop it in the brown bag or lunch box and by lunchtime it will be thawed and ready to eat. These ready made sandwiches should stay fresh for up to one month in the freezer, but you may want to just make them on a weekly basis, so they are fresher.
Freezing peanut butter in slices between parchment paper did become an overnight sensation on the internet at one time, however, others have had limited success with getting peanut butter to freeze in this way, so it may be best to avoid it.
If you want peanut butter treats for your canine family members, then put some unsweetened and unsalted xylitol-free peanut butter into ice cube trays – you can also add some mashed banana and/or low fat yogurt to it – then give the frozen treats to the dogs, perfect on hot summer days!
It is recommended by the American Kennel Club that treats like peanut butter should never make up more than 10% of a dog’s daily diet and treats should also include vegetables and fruits such as carrot, celery, apple slices and blueberries.
All About Peanut Butter
Peanuts have been around for a long time, and in fact there is evidence of them being around for at least 3,500 years in South America. Peanut butter itself is thought to have been around in the time of Inca Indians, who ground their peanuts into butter.
Although peanuts were originally used as fodder in North America and as source of nutrition for poorer citizens, they began to grow in popularity as a snack after the American Civil War. It was not long after this that street vendors began to sell hot peanuts at major events such as baseball games.
Peanut butter was commercially introduced at the 1904 St Louis’ World’s Fair where it soon became popular. It was also added to U.S. Army rations soon after this and from this, the PB&J sandwich evolved to become an important food for the soldiers serving during the Second World War.
Peanut butter is a good source of fiber, with a two tablespoon serving providing around 1.8 grams of fiber. It is also a good source of protein, with the same size serving providing 7 grams of protein, although peanuts do not contain all of the essential amino acids that our body needs.
Peanut butter also contributes to our recommended daily allowance of minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and zinc, as well as vitamin B6.
One of the main concerns around consuming too much peanut butter is its fat content. The two tablespoon serving provides almost one quarter of the recommended daily intake of saturated fat for a 2,000 calorie diet. As well as saturated fats, peanuts are a source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in a ratio similar to olive oil.
The American Diabetes Association actually recommends consuming 46grams of peanuts or peanut butter as a protein choice to improve blood lipids, promote heart health and even assist diabetics with their weight control.
Like most foods, peanut butter should be enjoyed in moderation, which is why freezing it into smaller portions can be more helpful than freezing a full jar at a time.
The fat, protein and fiber content of peanut butter may also help with weight control as it can help us to feel fuller after eating.
The Bottom Line
If you prefer to buy peanut butter in bulk, make your own, or just eat a little occasionally, then freezing is the ideal way to further extend the lifespan of this shelf stable food.
I do hope you have enjoyed this post on how to freeze peanut butter and that if you have yet to try freezing it, then I hope the tips offered here will be valuable.
Do take the time to leave any comments on your experiences with freezing peanut butter and feel free to share this post with the people that you know.