The United States produces about 3 million metric tons of peanuts per year.
Nearly 60 percent of that production, according to FDN associate professor Ruthann Swanson, goes into peanut butter, which means there’s about 1.2 billion pounds of peanut butter available for consumption per year.
But what happens to all the peanut skins?
They’re discarded as waste, which is a shame, Swanson said, because peanut skills actually are high in antioxidants, specifically phenolics, and dietary fiber.
Swanson and a team of UGA scientists, including faculty members from UGA’s Department of Food Science and Technology and FDN professor emeritus James Hargrove, published a paper recently that suggests peanut skins can be incorporated into traditional peanut butter with potentially surprising results.
“We found we can do this and people found it to be acceptable,” Swanson said.
The objective of the project was to assess the effects of peanut skin incorporation on consumer acceptability, with measurements of appearance, flavor, texture, ease of spreadability and overall satisfaction. The study also looked at skins that had been heated to different extents during processing: blanched (the mildest heat treatment), light roasted and medium roasted.
Swanson’s team tried various levels of peanut skin incorporation, going up as high as 5 percent, with no difference from the control on acceptability on the blanched skins.
Swanson said the findings suggest a food company could attempt to diversify its product line by incorporating peanut skins into production, even in the use of other food products such as cookies.
Swanson noted that historically, consumers have found the presence of particulates in peanut butter to be objectionable. Also, most peanut butter consumers tend to be very “brand loyal,” making new products difficult to market.
“But what has happened in recent years is a movement toward healthier products in general, including nut butters, and an increased emphasis on natural (products), and the peanut butters than contain some skin particles are perceived to be more natural by the consumer,” Swanson said. “This generation does not seem to be as brand loyal and they want products that are closer to their original state.”
The UGA Student Dietetic Association is an organization run by students majoring in dietetics.
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