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A Better (Peanut) Butter: Five Questions for Adrian Reif

The founder and force behind Yumbutter talks peanut butter from the grind up.

Photography by: Kevin J. Miyazaki

Peanut butter is brain food, and Adrian Reif, left, founder of Yumbutter, is living proof. Even with a mind on health and social responsibility -- Yumbutter’s products are made with all-natural ingredients, and each jar purchased feeds a child around the world -- nothing gets lost in the flavor department. Adrian explains that he and co-owner Matt D'Amour "are giving nut butter its due with a product that’s yummy, healthy, and unique.”

Read our Q&A for more on Yumbutter’s daily grind, Adrian’s peanut-butter-making tips, and a few outrageous combinations any serious peanut butter lover must try.

Walk us through the farm-to-pantry process.
Our peanuts are grown mainly in the American South and Southwest -- Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, New Mexico -- as well as a few farms across the Mexican border. Once harvested, the peanuts are shelled and blanched. We then roast them to order and grind them in small batches. We get them to stores as quickly as possible, meaning our customers may get them mere weeks or months after processing.

Raw food is getting a lot of buzz these days, and many of your products are raw. So why do you roast your peanuts?
Peanuts are legumes -- so like, say, a black bean, they’re tough to digest raw. I’ve tasted raw peanuts straight from the farm, and they’ve got a mild taste and chewy consistency. Nothing horrific, but not what we’d typically expect or enjoy. Roasting also helps remove moisture, which prolongs freshness and improves the texture of the finished product. Water and oil don’t get along, so stripping the peanuts down to just oil, fiber, and protein helps them reach that nice buttery consistency.

Should I refrigerate my peanut butter after opening?
It’s really a personal preference. Even natural peanut butter doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge. If you’re buying a super-fresh product, you might be able to lock that in a bit longer, but with most conventional brands you won’t see much of a difference. Refrigeration does help prevent oil separation, but it will also make the peanut butter hard and difficult to spread. I prefer to store mine at room temperature and give it a hearty stir before using. I eat a lot of peanut butter, though -- if it takes you six months to go through a jar, you might want to refrigerate.

And how do you take your room-temperature peanut butter?
I do all the usual suspects -- apples, bananas, oatmeal, smoothies -- but I’ve hit on a few unconventional ones, too. Peanut butter and carrots make a great snack. For something even more out there, I’ve been known to enjoy peanut butter on burgers, and I’m a huge fan of peanut-butter-and-raw-onion sandwiches. I was skeptical, too, but it just works.

That peanut butter and banana, though. I eat it almost every day, either for breakfast or a preworkout snack (Ed. note: Adrian plays professional Ultimate Frisbee). I can’t eat bananas by themselves anymore.

Any tips for those attempting to make their own peanut butter at home?
That’s how I started -- cranking them out in my food processor! The best advice I can give is to be patient. It takes eight to fifteen minutes for the peanuts to warm up and release oil, so let them go all the way to that super-creamy consistency. Adding a bit of coconut oil helps, too.

Experiment with mix-ins. You can make all kinds of crazy flavors. One I’m dying to re-create is a s’mores peanut butter with marshmallows, chocolate chips, and graham-cracker crumble -- when I figure out how to make a healthy version of that one, I’ll let you know!

And it goes without saying that you can switch up the nuts, too. We’re currently developing a few hazelnut butters, as well as sunflower seed butter, which is safe for those with nut allergies. Rotating nuts and seeds throughout the week helps ensure a variety of nutrients that support heart, brain, and immune function. Eat two servings a day in the name of health. You can quote me on that.

Oh, we will! Try Yumbutter for yourself -- original or flavored -- in one of our favorite peanut butter recipes.