Peanut butter opens up a whole world of rich and nutty possibilities in the kitchen, from the sweet to the savory. It adds a salty balance to sweet desserts, creaminess to sauces, and protein to snacks and breakfasts. And in its most natural form, peanut butter is even gluten-free!
Since they fall into the legume category rather than the grain category, peanuts by themselves are completely gluten-free. This makes any product that comes from pure peanuts gluten-free, too. Peanut flour, peanut oil and pure peanut butter are all safe for people on a gluten-free diet.
So if peanuts are always gluten-free, then peanut butter should be pretty safe, right? Well, not necessarily.
Not every peanut butter brand is completely gluten-free. Many contain small traces of gluten that can still throw your system out of whack. You might run into trouble with peanut butter that contains other ingredients, or touches machinery that comes into contact with other products. Sometimes, the same factories where your peanut butter comes from also produce other foods that contain gluten. That means their peanut butter might become cross-contaminated.
Stay away from anything with grains on the label like wheat, rye or barley. Anything labeled vaguely as a “sweetener,” “flavoring” or “spice” is also something to watch out for. And then, of course, you’ll find specific labels like “may contain wheat,” which means anyone on a gluten-free diet should steer clear.
Most brands of peanut butter don’t use ingredients that contain gluten on purpose. For the most part, this will come from cross-contamination with other products. It’s best to avoid anything that’s not specifically labeled gluten-free.
The best brands to buy if you’re looking to avoid gluten are the ones certified gluten-free by the GFCO. That stands for Gluten Free Certification Organization, and it has stricter requirements than the FDA. The GFCO won’t certify a product as gluten-free unless it has less than 10 particles of gluten for every million particles, while the FDA only requires the gluten in a product to be under 20 particles per million.
Justin’s Peanut Butter, as well as Peanut Butter and Co. and even many varieties of Jif, are certified gluten-free by the GFCO. If you’re particularly sensitive to trace amounts of gluten, these brands are your best bet. Teddie Peanut Butter (my personal favorite), Kirkland from Costco, Skippy, Peter Pan, and many other common brands do not contain any gluten ingredients or state that they are manufactured in a shared facility. But once you learn to read labels for a gluten-free diet, you should always check the packages and product websites for updated information.
However, people with less severe gluten intolerance or who are just trying to cut down on gluten would most likely be fine eating anything specifically labeled gluten-free, whether by the GFCO or the FDA.
Avoid any brands with warnings on the label that say they may contain gluten or are processed on machinery that also processes gluten. It’s also best to avoid specialty brands of peanut butter with add-ins or other flavors unless you know exactly what’s in them. All in all, if a jar of peanut butter isn’t specifically labeled gluten-free, you probably want to skip it.
How long peanut butter lasts on the shelf changes based on the kind of peanut butter and whether it’s been opened. Not only are peanut butters that contain stabilizers less likely to separate, but they also tend to last longer. A stabilized peanut butter usually lasts at least six months unopened, and then about 3 months once the seal is broken.
Meanwhile, natural peanut butters have a shorter shelf life. They stay good unopened for up to 3 months. Once you break the seal, make sure to finish the jar within the next month or so. Both natural and stabilized peanut butters will last longer if you move them to the fridge before they reach their sell-by date.
Peanut butter is a creamy, nutty delight that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. This quick list of gluten-free peanut butter recipes includes desserts, snacks, breakfasts and dinners, so you’re all set no matter what you’re looking for.
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