I will first start off by saying that natural peanut butter is healthier than regular peanut butter, so buy it. That being said, does natural peanut butter actually need to be refrigerated? Cold peanut butter is so much harder to spread, so ignoring what the label tells you to do is the easiest option. 

Truth is, natural peanut butter does not need to be refrigerated, but I highly recommend that you keep it in the fridge. Why you ask? Time to dive into two of my favorite things: food and science. 

The Storage Protocol

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Jocelyn Hsu

Your basic jar of Skippy is incredibly appealing. You can just pull it out of the pantry and slather it all over whatever your heart desires. Natural peanut butter requires stirring, refrigeration (according to the label), and some fine-tuned spreading skills. Which one would the average grocery shopper choose? I think we all know the answer to that one.

The Ingredients

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Grace Lee

Non-natural peanut butter contains ingredients such as peanuts (duh), sugar, salt and some type of hydrogenated oil. Natural peanut butter keeps it simple: peanuts and sometimes salt. The added hydrogenated oil in regular peanut butter is the key component in the great refrigeration debate. Here comes some chemistry.

The Science

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Mary Mattingly

The hydrogenated oils added to regular peanut butter function as emulsifiers which keep things all mixed together. Emulsifiers contain water-loving and oil-loving components, which is how they're able to keep regular peanut butter completely mixed. Since natural peanut butter does not contain emulsifiers, the peanuts and the natural oil in peanuts separate.

Oil separation in natural peanut butter is clearly visible, so the peanuts and oil need to be thoroughly mixed. Storage in the fridge is essential in preventing rapid oil separation. Refrigeration also keeps the natural peanut butter from spoiling as fast, which is obviously the job that refrigeration does for every food. 

If you purchase regular peanut butter simply because natural peanut butter is too difficult to stir, just use this easy solution. Take the peanut butter out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before you want to use it. Or, try these tricks.

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Katherine Carroll

Next time you feel the urge to Google, "does natural peanut butter actually need to be refrigerated?", just listen to what the label tells you to do. Or, take your chances and find out what happens. In my opinion, natural peanut butter is literal heaven in a jar, and refrigerating it is the best way to keep it holy. Science says so.