As a Southern cook and a great lover of peanuts, raw, boiled, and roasted, I think the question here should be, “Can you can peanut butter?”. In my over 50 years of cooking and canning, I’ve pulled up, picked off, washed, boiled, roasted, made candy from, and eaten my fair share of peanuts, but I’ve never canned peanut butter.
Peanut butter cannot safely be canned because of its density and low acidic level, which can make it go rancid relatively quickly. The solution is that, instead of canning and storing peanut butter, you can preserve peanuts by drying or roasting them. Then, you can make peanut butter as needed.
The rest of the article will go into greater detail on the topic so you can enjoy your own homemade peanut butter as safely as possible. I’ll even throw in a recipe for making your own delicious peanut butter for good measure.
Why Can’t Peanut Butter Be Canned by Using the Home Canning Process?
The primary reason that peanut butter cannot or should not be canned at home by using the home canning process is that The National Center for Home Food Processing does not recognize canning peanut butter at home as a safe practice. They only recommend canning green peanuts in the shell.
They are constantly checking home canning procedures for safety factors to change and improve canning practices as needed.
Besides the fact that the oil in peanuts goes rancid fairly quickly, here are two major reasons peanut butter cannot be canned:
- Foods that are too dense to allow water to flow freely through and around the foodstuff, as would be the case with peanut butter, can trap bacteria in pockets that are under-processed. This is why you can’t puree pumpkin prior to canning and why you can’t use thickening agents in canned foods.
- If the acidity level is too low, as is the case with peanuts, C. Botulinum can produce the most potent toxin known to man while your canned goods are sitting in your pantry.
Related The 6 Types of Foods That Can Be Canned (And 4 That Cannot).
How to Preserve Peanuts
If you buy or grow peanuts, the freshly harvested peanuts can be boiled, canned, frozen, dried, or parched. How you prefer to eat the peanuts will determine how they should be stored.
Here are x different methods of preserving peanuts:
1. Preserving Green Peanuts Unprocessed
Whole green peanuts:
- Can be stored in a cool, dry area for 2-½ to 3 months.
- Can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately 6 months.
- Can be stored long-term in the freezer, where they will remain good indefinitely as long as they are kept at 32 degrees or less.
Cool Fact: Whole peanuts in the shell last up to four times as long as shelled peanuts.
2. Boiling Peanuts
Boiled peanuts which are made from green peanuts, are a delicacy in many parts of the country and can be made by following this recipe.
- Wash the peanuts well.
- Put them into a large pot and cover with water.
- Add a generous amount of salt, depending on how many peanuts you are cooking, or approximately 1/3 cup of salt per pound of peanuts.
- Bring them to a boil over a high heat, reduce heat slightly, and cook for 3 hours or more until tender, stirring occasionally and adding water as needed.
Boiled peanuts should be refrigerated immediately after they have cooled. They will keep in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days. They can also be placed into airtight containers or freezer bags and frozen. They will keep in the freezer indefinitely as long as they are kept at 32 degrees or below.
3. Hot Packing Green Peanuts
Hot pack and pressure can whole green peanuts in the shell by following the approved canning principles. The exact length of time they should be processed will depend on the type of canner being used and the elevation where they are being canned. Here is a link to the step-by-step process.
Canned green peanuts should then be stored in a cool, dry area, such as the pantry, away from any direct heat or light source, where they will remain good for up to 5 years.
4. Making Dried Peanuts
- Green peanuts can also be spread out on trays and left in a cool, dry area to dry.
- Once green peanuts have been dried, they can be stored by placing them into airtight containers in a cool, dry place like a pantry or a root cellar and will last for 4-6 months.
- Dried peanuts can be put into airtight containers in the refrigerator, where they will last for up to 6-8 months.
- They can also be placed into airtight containers and stored in the freezer at 32 degrees or lower, where they will keep indefinitely.
5. Roasting Peanuts:
To make roasted peanuts, place dried peanuts in a single layer on a baking pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Stir or turn over halfway through the process.
Roasted peanuts can be in an airtight container in:
- At room temperature, in a cool, dry area for up to 6 months.
- The refrigerator for up to a year.
- The freezer indefinitely.
What Kind of Peanuts can be used to make Peanut Butter?
Dried or roasted peanuts, any kind of peanuts except boiled, can be used to make peanut butter by following the directions below.
How to Make Peanut Butter
You will need 2 cups dried or roasted peanuts and salt (to taste- optional)
- Pour peanuts into a food processor or blender.
- Process in small batches until smooth. Process only 20-30 seconds at a time to prevent burning out the motor of your food processor.
Once you are done processing the peanut butter, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and it will remain good for 4-6 months.
Pro Tips: If peanut butter becomes too hard in the refrigerator, stir in a little olive oil to make it smoother and more spreadable.
Also, other nuts and sunflower seeds can be processed using this recipe.
Be sure to check out my article on How to Make Powdered Peanut Butter | A Quick Guide.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Homemade Peanut Butter:
Here are 4 tips to maximize how long peanut butter will last:
- Homemade peanut butter should be kept refrigerated.
- Limit the time that homemade peanut butter remains unrefrigerated.
- Use a dedicated serving spoon or knife for the peanut butter so there is no cross-contamination with other food.
- Do not leave the lid off the peanut butter container for an extended period of time to avoid airborne contamination.
How to Tell When Peanuts or Peanut Butter Have Gone Bad
It is the natural oils contained within the peanuts that become rancid. You can tell when peanuts or peanut butter are bad because of the rancid odor and taste or mold might be growing in the container. In either case, discard the entire container and contents immediately.
While it would be nice to make a large amount of peanut butter once a year to last until harvest time for peanuts the following year, similarly to canning gravy, safety has to come first when preparing food for our family’s consumption.
But, with the ability to store peanuts long-term, we at least can make homemade peanut butter in smaller batches throughout the year to satisfy our peanut butter needs.
I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss Foods That Require Pressure Canning (With Printable Charts).
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2 thoughts on “How to Can Peanut Butter? (You Can’t But Do This Instead)”
It obviously can be canned because the food industry does it. And, it is shelf stable for up to 18 months according to some experts. But, what process do they use is the question?
Shannon, thanks for the comment. My point in this article is that, according to the National Center For Home Food Preservation, peanut butter cannot safely be canned at home because there is no process available at this time that can test whether home-canned peanut butter is safe. It is canned commercially, but commercial processes can foods under conditions that aren’t available to the home canner.
Any time I can anything, I check to see what the latest information is from the National Center For Home Food Preservation because their affiliates at the State University Extension Services are constantly testing and researching to provide the safest and best processes to the home canner, and my number one priority is food safety. Unfortunately, there are a lot of recipes out there that folks have just made up and that are not based on safe canning practices.
The article on canning peanut butter written by one of the food experts at the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture where all the food testing is done is available at https://ask2.extension.org/kb/faq.php?id=550550.