Spreading peanut or almond butter over an apple makes for a delicious afternoon snack, but it’s not without some annoyances. If you’re buying natural nut butter it can separate easily — even after you’ve mixed it up — leaving a layer of oil at the top of the jar when you’re ready to dig in. Luckily, a simple storage hack can help you enjoy a more evenly incorporated nut butter that’s easy to smear on practically any of your favorite foods.
The layer of oil on top of your peanut butter when you open it is inevitable, but after you give it a good initial stir with a butter knife you won’t have to do it again if you store your jar upside down. And, if you’re one of those people who chooses to pour the oil out, you may want to think again: Without that oil your peanut butter will dry out.
As annoying as it can be to deal with, the layer of oil is actually a good way to tell how natural your nut butter is. Most natural peanut butters contain only peanuts (or almonds or cashews or whatever nut you choose), and possibly some salt. The experts at Business Insider note that the oil comes from the process of grinding the nuts and is more likely to rise to the top of the jar while the solid mixture sits at the bottom. This doesn’t happen with processed peanut butter because it has added oil, such as soybean, palm, or cottonseed oil, which all mix together and prevent either one from floating to the top. These may be less messy, but natural nut butters are a lot healthier since they only contain nuts.
The good news is, the fix is easy: Storing your peanut butter jar upside down in your pantry or kitchen cabinet will cause the oil to settle at the opposite end of the jar. Once you’re ready to use it, you can flip it to its normal position and the nut butter closest to the lid will be smooth, creamy, and ready to spread without any excess oil in the way or the need to vigorously stir it beforehand.
Be sure the lid is screwed on tightly so there are no spills when it sits upside down. To see how this hack works, watch the Business Insider explainer below:
Another important tip is to keep the oil well-distributed throughout the jar by turning it every few days according to the experts at Real Simple. This prevents the oil from staying in one spot of the jar for long periods of time.
They also offer storing it in the fridge as an additional way to prevent peanut butter from separating because the cold air will solidify it. It might be a little harder to spread this way, but it’ll last for three to six months once opened versus two to three months in your pantry.
With this handy tip, your favorite almond, peanut, or cashew butter will retain its thick, well-combined consistency whenever you’re ready to enjoy it!