Innovative ingredients: Peanuts for foodservice

There’s almost no limit to the culinary possibilities of peanuts and peanut butter, as new and innovative products made from USA-grown peanuts are extending the possibilities for foodservice professionals.

Defatted roasted peanut flour provides a fat-free, gluten-free boost to a variety of food items. It contains more than twice the protein of all purpose white wheat flour. This healthy flour is a great thickener for soups, a flavourful and aromatic ingredient for a variety of breads and pastries, as well as a creative and flavourful coating for meats, fish and other centre-of-the-plate proteins.

Refined peanut oil is great to use in cooking as it is naturally trans fat-free, with no cholesterol and allergen-free (due to extensive processing that removes the protein allergen). This popular oil is ideal for frying applications. It does not absorb food flavours and has a high smoke point of 450oF (230oC), making it very durable. It’s been the preferred frying oil for numerous restaurants for many years, as it is low in saturated fats and has a pleasant flavour enhancement.

Aromatic roasted peanut oil (unrefined) retains a rich, golden colour and is a flavourful alternative to other first processing oils. Naturally trans fat- and cholesterol-free, it is a tasty choice for salad dressings, roasting vegetables and many other uses.

Peanut butter comes in many varieties. Long gone are the days of only having the choice of smooth or crunchy. Now you can find many that come in a sweet or savoury variety, including flavours with dark chocolate, banana, maple, onion parsley and Thai ginger. No matter what flavour you choose all peanut butters are naturally cholesterol- and trans fat-free. Peanut butter is great on its own or as a wonderful addition to a variety of recipes – from desserts to beverages to main courses. When using peanuts, there are actually four different types that will give you a slightly different flavour profile for your cooking:

Runner peanuts – Grown primarily in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Oklahoma, this market type accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the peanuts produced in the United States. Its uniform kernel size allows for even roasting and is most commonly used for the manufacture of peanut butter.

Spanish peanuts – Often referred to as “red skins” because of its distinctive reddish brown seed coat, this type has smaller-sized kernels and is used for a variety of cuisines. Its reputation of having the “nuttiest” flavour when roasted is due to its higher oil content. Typically grown in Oklahoma and Texas, they account for four per cent of the United States peanut market.

Valencia peanuts – Perhaps the sweetest of all market types, the Valencia is distinguished by having typically three or more kernels to the shell. Usually roasted and sold in their shells, these peanuts are grown almost exclusively in New Mexico. It is also a popular peanut used for all-natural peanut butter.

Virginia peanuts – The largest peanut of the four types produced in the United States is often referred to as the ballpark peanut. Due to its large kernel size, the Virginia type is commonly used as a gourmet snack as well. The most common type grown in Virginia and the Carolinas, they represent about 15 per cent of U.S. peanut production. The Virginia peanut is a variety of peanuts that is also grown in other countries beyond the U.S. If you’re looking for a true U.S.-grown Virginia peanut, you must insist that it be U.S.A. grown.

The only limit to USA-grown peanuts and peanut products seems to be our imagination!

From a heath perspective, peanuts and peanut butter pack a powerful nutritional punch:

  • • They are naturally cholesterol-free.
  • • They are full of protein – the most of any nut.
  • • They have zero trans fat.
  • • They contain over 30 essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • • And eating them may be good for your heart.

What’s not to love about that?

Source: National Peanut Board