I’ve not been a big fan of peanut butter, at least not as an adult… As a child I was a pretty finicky eater, and I ate way too much of the stuff when whatever was on the table didn’t suit me. Since then, I’ve had no taste for it—or at least, I didn’t until my Amish friend Ruth introduced me to something they make which is commonly known as “Amish peanut butter.”
When it’s sold in the local stores it’s often called “Amish Church Peanut Butter.” This is because it is made as part of the standard after-church meal. The Amish don’t have church buildings—they hold church in their homes, barns, or out in the yard under a rented tent. After the three-hour service, the host family feeds everyone lunch before sending them home.
The meal is pretty standard and unchanging. I never understood this until I gave it some thought, and then it made all the sense in the world… Hosting church (a task that may fall to a family twice a year) is a stressful task. Everything is cleaned and scrubbed as the family tries to put their best foot forward for their guests. Imagine the added stress if the hostess had to try to equal or outdo the lavish spread put on by the previous hostess, always competing to try to “keep up with the Yoders.” (And that kind of pride or one-upsmanship is anathema to the Amish.) It makes more sense to standardize the meal. And part of that meal is Amish peanut butter.
How does it differ from what we’re used to? I’ve seen various recipes in Amish cookbooks, but in the Amish community I am most familiar with, it is a blend of peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and Karo syrup. So it is lighter and sweeter than regular peanut butter and it is oh-so-good. It is sold all over Amish Indiana, and it’s not cheap at the tourist traps—although it's more reasonably priced at the places the locals shop, like E&S Foods. It’s also on the table in many local restaurants.
My friend Ruth saves me a few margarine-tubs of it whenever she makes it for church, and sometimes I just get a spoon and eat it out of the tub like ice cream. Lately I’ve taken to breaking off little pieces of dark chocolate Ghirardelli bars and dipping them in the peanut butter. I suppose a person could also eat it on bread or toast, like it’s meant to be eaten.
Amish Church Peanut Butter. One more reason I like Amish Indiana.