I had been wanting to tour the Krema Nut Company for sometime. Although it is only a mile and a half from my house it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You can only visit on weekdays, during office hours and you have to have a group of twenty or more people. Finally I assembled a group and last Friday it was ‘peanut butter jelly time’.
Krema has been making peanut butter in Columbus for since 1898 soon after Dr John Kellogg (of cereal fame) patented a peanut butter making process. They are the oldest continuously operating manufacturer in the United States.
The tour started with a short video about the process of making peanut butter from farm to jar. Slightly surreal as the video they use is a clip from Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood (for British readers, it is the equivalent to using a clip from Play School or some other cheesy 1970’s children’s TV). We were then told about the different varieties of peanuts (spanish, virginia and runner). Most ‘commercial’ peanut butters are made from runner peanuts because they have the highest yield per acre, but Krema uses higher quality spanish peanuts for their peanut butter.
The factory is small scale and much is done by hand. Krema’s peanut butter is all natural which means that nothing at all is added. The nuts are roasted, cooled, blanched (skins and hearts are removed) and then ground. I was surprised that the heart (the little dot at the top of the peanut) is removed (you eat them when you eat peanuts whole) but apparently they are bitter. ‘Commercial’ peanut butters leave them in but they add sugar and salt to make up for the bitterness.
We learned that when choosing a natural peanut butter you should choose one without too much oil on the surface, there will be some as the peanut butter starts to separate as soon as it is made, but the less oil there is, the fresher it is. When you get it home, stir it to combine the oil and then refrigerate it. If it is too hard to spread, then you can microwave it for 20 seconds to soften it, then return to the fridge after use. It is fine to do this repeatedly.
Krema also makes other nut butters (almond, cashew) and other but products and we learned about cashews (really a seed) and Brazil nuts (yes, they do come from Brazil). When you learn that a 50ft cashew tree only produces 6lbs of cashew nuts a year, you can appreciate why they are so expensive. The extra large cashews we tasted were fantastic. We watched almond butter being made.
We tasted Krema’s regular peanut butter, cashew butter, almond butter and hot and spicy peanut butter. You could really taste the freshness. The hot and spicy peanut butter is my new favorite food. It makes an excellent PB&J sandwich, is a great snack with celery and I think it would make for a wonderful satay sauce.
Krema have a shop with an extensive range of nut products that is open to the public and you can see through windows into the factory (a lot easier than organizing a tour). There is also a sandwich shop that also serves milkshakes, ice cream and sundaes (PB milkshake got a big thumbs up). It is located at 1000 West Goodale Blvd in Columbus. If you can’t make it to the shop, Krema also sell their products online.
Sandwiches pictured: Classic Old Timer (with strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries), the PB-nana (with honey and bananas) and Grandma’s Apple Pie (with chunky apple fruit spread).
One of my other discoveries from the shop – almondized peanuts. These are boiled before they are roasted and it gives them a really crunchy texture. Delicious salted and less greasy than regular roast peanuts.
Thanks to everyone who came along for the tour.