The Chemistry of Peanut Butter


Peanut butter is a paste or spread of ground roasted peanuts. It is commonly used on bread with jelly or even honey or nutella. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are consumed daily by the average student. The average child will consume 1,500 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches before he or she graduates high school. I chose peanut butter as my project because I’ve consumed thousands of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches over the years, but I have never known the background information on it. I was really interested on how it was made and the ingredients that are involved in the creation. My life has been affected by peanut butter in various ways. It has been my #1 favorite lunch sandwich for over 12 years!!

Composition of ...

    • Roasted Peanuts
    • Sugar
      • Made up of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen
      • The molecular formula for sucrose is C12H22O11
    • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Cottonseed, Soybean, and Rapeseed)
    • Salt
      • Made up of Sodium and Chlorine
    • NaCl

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

    • Roasted peanuts
      • C57H104O6
      • Peanuts are a legume, not a nut. It grows from a plant above ground and are harvested across the world.
    • Sugar - Sucrose
      • C12H22O11
    • Sucrose is a table sugar that is created in plants such as sugar cane. It is used in many foods including being a main component in peanut butter.

Chemistry's Role

    • Roasted Peanuts
      • Naturally occurring
      • It takes 10 days after planting to see a sprout appear above ground. Yellow flowers on the plants then begin to bloom within 40 days after planting. The flowers then pollinate themselves and the petals fall off. This then starts the process of the “peanut ovary.” This ovary creates a vine off of the plant and penetrates the ground. Peanuts are usually harvested 120-160 days after being planted.
    • Sugar - Sucrose
      • Somewhat naturally occurring
      • Sucrose is a sugar that is usually an added ingredient to foods. Although it sometimes occurs naturally in foods, it is also created in a factory environment. In each situation, different, but similar, tastes arise.
  • Peanut butter is somewhat man-made. Its main ingredient is peanuts, in which is not man-made and has to be planted in order to create a peanut. The factory process of peanut butter makes it man-made.

Background Research

    • In a serving of 2 TB Skippy Creamy peanut butter:
      • Calories - 190
      • Calories from fat - 140
      • Total fat - 16.0 g - 25%
        • Saturated fat - 3.0 g - 15%
        • Trans Fat - 0 g
      • Cholesterol - 0 mg - 0%
      • Sodium - 150 mg - 6%
      • Total Carbohydrates - 7.0 g - 2%
        • Dietary Fiber - 2.0 g - 8%
        • Sugars - 3.0 g
      • Protein - 7.0 g - 7%
      • Iron - 4%
      • Vitamin E - 10%
      • Niacin - 20%
    • Ingredients of Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter
      • Roasted Peanuts
      • Sugar
      • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Cottonseed, Soybean, and Rapeseed)
      • Salt
    • How is it made?
      • Harvested peanuts are taken to buying stations to be determine the value and quality. They are also weighed and and graded.
      • Peanuts are then transferred the shelling plants where peanuts are sorted by size, shelled and inspected. The peanuts are packed into boxes, bags, and even railcars and delivered to manufacturers.
      • Manufacturers inspect all of the peanuts for quality and then roast them in large ovens.The peanuts are are cooled rapidly to prevent being overcooked and the loss of oil.
      • In a process called blanching, the outer skin is removed by machines that rubs the peanuts between rubber belts. The peanuts are cleaned and sorted one last time.
      • Lastly, the peanuts are ground up in two stages. One long grinding stage would produce way too much heat, damaging the wonderful flavor of the peanuts. In the first stage, the peanuts are ground alone. In the second stage, all of the ingredients are added.
      • TaDa!!!! You have peanut butter!
      • The whipped peanut butter is then sent to packaging departments where they package and label the peanut butter.
    • Where is it made?
    • Skippy’s Creamy Peanut Butter is produced and packaged in the United States.


Nutritional Facts

Picture of Skippy Creamy Peanut Butter Jar

How peanut butter is made; Info on different types of peanuts

Molecular formula of peanuts

Planting stages of peanuts

Stats on peanut butter

About the Author

Catherine Sloan is a junior at Billings Senior High School. She is a 4.0 GPA student who will later go on to college and pursue her dream of being a neonatal nurse. Catherine is actively involved in varsity sports including volleyball and softball. In volleyball last year, her team went 32-0 and won the 2012 Montana AA State Championship. She enjoys the outdoors and spends most of her time in the summer camping, fishing, boating, and hiking.