If you are padding your pantry with consumables in order to get ready for a long-term survival situation, chances are you will have seen plenty of spreadsheets comparing the relative benefits and nutritional value of various foods.
Every prepper has their favorite, and it seems like every expert will make a contrary recommendation to those of his peers. But there is one prepping staple that is universally recommended and almost universally loved: peanut butter, sometimes touted as the ultimate survival staple. But does the hype live up to reality?
Is peanut butter a good choice for a survival food?
Yes, peanut butter is a great survival food. Nutritionally it is nearly complete packing in plenty of calories, mostly from protein, and tons of vitamins and minerals. It tastes great to most people, and it is shelf stable and long-lasting in most variations.
You could do a lot worse than stocking up on peanut butter as the centerpiece of your survival food stash, and it is just as effective at home as it is on the road.
Naturally, there is more to consider about this survival superfood. Keep reading to learn more about peanut butter in a survival context then you thought possible.
Ingredients and Nutritional Content
Peanut butter is a food that, obviously, is made predominantly from peanuts ground into a spread or paste. But if you ever tried to make your own at home in a blender it quickly becomes obvious that there is a little bit more to it than that!
Most modern, grocery-stocked peanut butters have additional ingredients that will alter both taste and texture.
Typically these ingredients consist of salt, sweeteners such as sugar, and an emulsifier which binds the peanut oil in the mixture to the peanut paste made from the ground “nuts”.
Peanut butters also often contain preservatives, an important consideration for a long-term survival food. More on that in a minute.
Nutritionally peanut butter is a rock star, though it is often derided, at least in a normal consumption context, as being too calorie-laden. Calorie density is typically a positive attribute for prepping, not a negative!
An average serving of peanut butter will contain 25 grams or more of protein, 50 grams of fat and 20 grams of carbohydrates. That same serving will yield a whopping 590 kcals of energy!
It does not take much peanut butter to provide a solid shot of energy, and as a bonus it really sticks to your ribs and provides satiation.
Peanut butter is more than just cheap and portable calories. It provides many essential nutritional elements in the bargain, including such vitamins as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.
Minerals too are present in meaningful qualities, among them calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Peanut butter is hard to beat, providing nearly everything a working body needs!
Preservation and Texture
Peanut butter is available in two well-known formats and one lesser-known format. The two that most Americans are familiar with are smooth and crunchy. Pick whichever one you like the best, as neither format has any impact on storage or shelf life.
The third format that is becoming increasingly popular is powdered peanut butter, which is useful for adding to shakes and smoothies or just for ultra-long term storage.
More important for us as preppers as whether or not we want all natural peanut butter, that is peanut butter without any preservatives or artificial emulsifiers, or typical peanut butter which has both.
Sorry to disappoint you health food nuts (pardon the pun), but you will definitely want to choose peanut butter that contains preservatives. The increase in shelf life is dramatic.
Peanut butter with preservatives that is kept unopened in a cool, dark place will last around 12 months. All-natural peanut butter in the same environment and the same conditions will only last an average of 3 months. Though peanut butter does not require refrigeration, you can drastically increase the shelf life of either variety by doing so.
In this regard the peanut butter with preservatives wins again though it does not extend the typical shelf life of around a year by much. You will see a bump and shelf life for all natural peanut butter when refrigerated, anywhere from four to six months.
The real rock star for shelf life among the varieties of peanut butter is “dry” or powdered peanut butter.
Properly sealed, unopened and stored in a cool, dry place this power-packed peanut powder may last anywhere between 4 and 10 years and remain completely ready to eat the entire time!
When you consider all of its other benefits it is clear that peanut butter is the all-around champion for survival foodstuffs.
It is worth noting that peanut butter is extremely portable, as long as it is kept inside a tightly sealed container that is not vulnerable to breaking, or other disruption.
Peanut butter is typically resistant to temperature swings that might be encountered when taking it along in a bug-out bag though this will shorten its given shelf life somewhat.
As an Ingredient
Aside from being a delicious foodstuff all on its own peanut butter also makes a great ingredient in a variety of other dishes, both sweet and savory, and as a condiment or topping.
You can leverage a big tub of peanut butter for all kinds of other delicious meals, stretching your survival dollars and helping to prevent the doldrums from setting in.
If you are going with the larger economy size containers of peanut butter, be aware that opening it will shorten its shelf life somewhat, typically by about half of what you could expect with an unopened container.
You should also take care to avoid eating directly out of a large container as bacteria from your utensil can contaminate and quickly ruin the whole batch.
Signs of Spoilage
Nothing great will last forever, and that is certainly true for peanut butter. Whether it has been opened or not, keep alert for the following signs of spoilage before chowing down on your supply:
- Nasty Smell: Peanut butter should have a noticeably fresh, nutty smell. Does it smell weird, rank, or off? If so, ditch it.
- Color Change: Pretty much all peanut butters are a uniform tan color. Any odd color shifts are a bad sign. It has probably gone rancid.
- Consistency and Texture: Preserved peanut butter should be smooth and creamy, notwithstanding any chunks of peanut if you like the chunky texture. If it appears clumpy or dried out, toss it!
- Mold or Slime: Any weird growths or substances are obvious signs of spoilage. Throw it out!
Tom’s Peanut Butter “Survival Supercharger”
It is possible to use peanut butter as the base for a sort of prepper-style energy bar, with the rest of the common staples that you probably already have on hand in your stash comprising the other ingredients.
All you need to do is take a quantity of peanut butter, and add to it a few scoops of coffee grounds, a sizable drizzle of honey and a handful of granola. Stir all of this together before storing it in a tightly sealing container or even a heavy-duty Ziploc bag.
This is a great portable food that will give you plenty of energy, an abundance of calories and even help keep you alert thanks for the caffeine in the coffee grounds.
It might not be a taste sensation for everybody, but I like it and it is a great way to add variety over a straight peanut butter menu.
Peanut butter is an excellent and delicious survival foodstuff that deserves a place in every pack and pantry.
So long as it has preservatives you’ll get at least a year of shelf life out of an unopened container, with powdered peanut butter lasting upwards of 5 years in proper conditions.