Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea L.) is a major oilseed crop of India. However, unlike other oilseeds, groundnut can be consumed directly as food.
With the growing awareness among people about the importance of balanced diet, demand for low calorie-high protein foods is increasing as people tend to avoid consumption of high-fat foods lest it should cause obesity and associated health problems (Blundell and Macdiarmid 1997; Kuller 1997).
Dairy butter, produced generally from the cow or buffalo milk, contains almost 100 per cent fat without any protein while the peanut butter contains about 20 per cent protein besides 50 per cent fat and also contains all other nutrients that are naturally present in the groundnut. Hence, consumption of groundnut in the form of peanut butter is more beneficial on the basis of economic and health aspects. It is already quite popular in USA and other European countries. In India, however, this product is available commercially only in the metropolitan cities and mega-molls. In times to come, the demand for peanut butter in India is likely to grow owing to its nutritional value. For expulsion of oil at the oil mills, groundnut shell is added to the kernel as a crushing aid. Thus, the groundnut protein, which is obtained almost entirely in the form of groundnut cake, is no more useful for human consumption as it contains several extraneous substances, crushed shells, dust particles, insects and microorganisms. However, when groundnuts are processed for preparing peanut butter, no portion, except the red skin, is lost and hence the kernels are utilized rather in a wholesome manner as all the nutrients become available for human consumption (Desai et al.1999).
Thus, popularization of peanut butter can go a long way in combating the problems of malnutrition. Consumers/vendors would prefer the peanut butter to be easily spread and also have a long shelf life. Peanut butter can also gain popularity among candy, snack and cookie manufacturer. In candy production, peanut butter coating cost about one-third as much as chocolate coatings, and can be used to enrobe cake portions, cookies, candy centres and other snack foods as reported by Salunkhe et al. (1992) and Sanders (2003). However, there is no extensive information available on the quality of peanut butter prepared from Indian groundnut varieties. Therefore, it would be of interest to study the flavor and compositional quality of peanut butter prepared from some of the Indian groundnut varieties in order to fulfill the ones more appropriate to elaborate this product.