Monoglyceride. A new unfamiliar food additive that I found on peanut butter label. The peanut butter I am referring to is somewhat dry without signs of oil separating to top. So I am guessing it is some sort of stabilizer or emulsifier.
It freak us out when we see chemically written words on our food. We judge it as poisonous or the less, harmful to our health. Oh! I am lying! The truth is it doesn’t really matter whatever are written on labels. We read it and let it pass. We never understand and we never care! The most common scenario, we don’t even bother reading. We accept it as long as it satisfy our palate.
There are some questionable articles saying it is harmful. Most have neutral reactions. It is a chemical of natural and synthetic origin. It is naturally occurring in many plants and can also be prepared in laboratory. You already know what this means. Synthetic is preferred due to cheaper cost and availability.
Proportion of use. If it is a food additive then there should be usage instruction. I have no success however. All I found is a US patent stating a novel approach in production of stabilized peanut butter. Monoglyceride is the emulsifier in the said patent. So it is patented and and I should not talk more about it.
What is emulsifier?
Oil in water do not mix. It will. Shake it inside capped jar vigorously and we can’t see the separation line. However, stop and the oil quickly rises on top leaving the water in bottom. Peanut butter has a similar reaction to this, though the oil rise happen relatively longer.
If we have something to hold the oil and water together, then it will form a stable mixture, without the oil rising. The emulsifier. Popular for these are egg and milk, and now the monoglyceride.
Why do we want it in our peanut butter?
For aesthetic purpose. Oil separation is simply not appealing.
We want peanut butter on our bread, not peanut oil. Stirring it to make uniform again is too hard for the lazy us.
A sign of spoilage. Customer assume peanut butter with oil on top is already spoiled.
Prone to spoilage. Really! Oil is sensitive to rancidity especially when the jar cap is already opened or improperly sealed.