User Review: Bell Plantation PB2
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $4
Bell Plantation's PB2 is a powdered peanut butter product weighing 1/3 the weight of traditional peanut butter, with a reduced fat content. It is easily rehydrated, but takes time and energy. It shares the same great taste as regular peanut butter, with a grittier texture. The reduced fat content is not necessarily a pro for the long-distant backpacker, needing a higher daily calorie intake.
- Weighs 1/3 the weight of regular peanut butter
- Same great flavor
- Less nutritional value
- Takes time
- Add too much water and you get a runny mess
I was on the hunt in my local grocery store for a squeezable tube of peanut butter to throw into my backpack, when I happened upon a powdered peanut butter product called PB2 by Bell Plantation (www.bellplantation.com). Curious, I picked up a jar for $4 and decided to try it out.
A lightweight option?
According to Bell Plantation's website, a 6.5oz jar of PB2 has the serving equivalent of an 1lb 2oz jar of regular peanut butter, approximately 15, two-tablespoon servings. On the trail, PB2 could be mixed with a little water, and a backpacker is carrying the same serving ratio at 1/3 the weight of regular peanut butter.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not quite.
As soon as I mentioned it in the Trailspace forums, a number of voices poo-pooed the idea. Some comments at http://www.trailspace.com/forums/camp-kitchen/topics/146160.html included:
- TheRambler: “I think I would rather just carry regular pb though as I only use it in quick snack type foods/meals. Having to stop an add water to something and then mix kinda defeats that purpose.”
- Tipi Walter: “I just can't see possibly ruining a great food and so I gotta leave something NOT in the dehydrated state just for the instant taste treat.”
- BigRed: “So all in all it's somewhere between silly and a rip-off IMO. I'll stick with trad PB, TYVM.”
- Gary Palmer: “Doesn't sound appetizing to me, regular jar(s) of PB work for me. I eat it straight from the jar when biking and hiking. At home I love a good PB and Raspberry jam sandwich a couple at a time.”
- Trailjester: “not much of a weight savings. I'll stick with jif.”
- Peter1955: “I don't see taking the extra time to mix it up on the trail, though, especially if most of the energy has been removed.”
Are these the voices of wisdom? OR are these the words of bitter naysayers who refuse to try anything new—men who believe silnylon is a passing fad and canvas tents will soon return to the market?
I had to find out for myself...
The discussion had been raised about the nutritional value of Powdered Peanut Butter compared to regular. I found several websites discounting PB2 as stealing the nutrients of regular peanut butter. On hiker sites, the most common objection was the reduction in fat content, a vital component of long distance hiking.
So I dug into a comparison of the nutritional value of the items in question.
Peanuts (cup) Peanuts (1cup) Jif® Creamy PB2 Powdered
Boiled Dry-roasted PB (2 TBSP) PB (2 TBSP)
Calories 573 854 190 45
Total fat 40g 72g 16g 1.5g
Saturated fat 5g 10g 2.5g 0g
Polyunsaturated fat 13g 23g – –
Monounsaturated fat 20g 36g – –
Cholesterol 0mg 0 mg 0mg 0mg
Sodium 1352mg 9 mg 140mg 94mg
Potassium 324mg 961 mg – –
Total Carbohydrate 38g 31g 8g 5g
Dietary fiber 16g 12g 2g 2g
Sugar 4.4g 6 g 3g 1g
Protein 24g 35g 7g 5g
Calcium 9% 7% 0% 0g
Iron 9% 18% 4% 0%
Vitamin B-6 15% 20% 0% 0%
Magnesium 46% 64% 0% 0%
Niacin 0% 0% 20% 0%
Riboflavin 0% 0% 2% 0%
Clearly, regular ol' peanut butter is the winner in the nutritional battle...BUT WAIT! I also happened to look at the ingredients on both containers:
PB2 Ingredients: Peanuts, sugar, salt
Jif® Creamy Ingredients: Roasted Peanuts, Sugar, Molasses, Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils (Rapeseed and soybean), mono and diglycerides, salt.
Now, I suddenly realized we are not simply comparing peanuts to peanuts. There are several unaccounted ingredients in the regular peanut butter.
Molasses: We're not told how much molasses is included in 2 TBSP of Jif, but the nutritional value in 1 TBSP of Molasses is 58 calories, 7mg sodium, 293mg potassium, 15g sugar, 4% calcium, 4% iron, 5% B-6, 12% magnesium.
Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils: One should note there is a huge nutritional difference between partially & fully hydrogenated oils. While Jif is fully hydrogenated, brands like Skippy are only partially hydrogenated. According to the Mayo Clinic website, “partially hydrogenated” is code for “transfat.” Transfat is known to raise cholesterol. Again, Jif does not tell us how much of these oils are in two tablespoons of their peanut butter, but here are the nutrition labels:
Oil (1 tbsp) Oil (1 tbsp)
Calories 120 120
Calories from fat 120 120
Total fat 13.5g 13.6g
Saturated fat 1.944g 0.966g
Polyunsaturated fat 7.818g 4.026g
Monounsaturated fat 3.144g 8g
Cholesterol 0mg 0 mg
Sodium 0mg 0 mg
Potassium 0mg 0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0g
Dietary fiber 0g 0g
Sugar 0g 0 g
Protein 0g 0g
Calcium 0% 0%
Iron 0% 0%
Vitamin B-6 0% 0%
Vitamin B-12 0% 0%
Magnesium 0% 0%
Niacin 0% 0%
Riboflavin 0% 0%
I had to look up mono and diglycerides, to see what they were. In a nutshell (sorry for the bad pun), they are a bonding and preservation agent. However, what stood out to me on a number of websites, including livestrong.com is that mono and diglycerides often contain TRANSFAT, but the Food & Drug Administration does not require labeling in these areas. So when a product, like Jif® Creamy lists it does not contain Transfat, that may not be the actual case.
I'm not a nutritionist, and I welcome any feedback. My conclusion in all this comparison is that, if one were to take away the additives in Jif, one would have close to the same nutrition content as PB2. In other words, the fat content of regular peanut butter comes from vegetable oils, not from peanuts. One is left with the discussion of whether or not vegetable oils are a healthy additive or a cause for many of today's food allergies and other illnesses (A discussion I am neither qualified, nor interested in pursuing).
TheRambler's response to my vegetable oil revelation:“Natural PB, none of that other crap in it. Stay away from jiff, Peter Pan, skipy etc.”
Not bad advice, but not readily available in my middle-of-nowhere town.
In any case, PB2 IS lower in valuable fat content than regular peanut butter. So is there a solution? Maybe. A handful of chopped peanuts sprinkled into the mix adds a healthy fat source than Jif® Creamy.
So were the naysayers correct?
- PB2 provides less fat and nutrients than traditional peanut butter.
- The taste is dead on, because it is, after all, peanuts.
- The rehydrated texture is a bit gritty.
- The weight savings is negligible and negated by the need to add chopped peanuts to raise the fat content.
- And it is a lot of work for minimal return.
PB2 is probably best reserved for power protein shakes and left out of the backpack while on the trail.
Once again the voices of the Trailspace forum community have proven to be a valuable resource for discussing all things outdoors.