Measuring the colour of Peanut Butter

Why would you measure the colour of Peanut Butter?

Peanut Butter is a simple product right? Take peanuts, smash them in a mortar and pestle and there you have it, peanut butter.
The domestic version however has been industrialised, and with that there are added complexities.

Firstly, the large volumes created in food processing plants results in even larger volumes of jars, mostly with clear containers, so the product can be seen by consumers.

Some brands have more label wrapping than others to appeal to different markets, so are less likely to be opened in the shop, but at some point the lid will come off at home, and the first impression will trigger an acceptance or not of the quality of the product.

Trusted brands like these seldom worry consumers, as they go to great lengths to ensure the product is perfect prior to shipping.

Other brands show more of the contents, and the same applies as before. Consumers will be confident that their jar is 100% within specifications and standards. The USDA (department of Agriculture) even stipulate colour standards for Peanut Butter.
These standards can be used to grade peanut butter to these standards although companies tend to produce products that are unique to their process.

Commercial Peanut Butter has remained fairly simple over the years. Sometimes the peanuts are roasted for colour and flavour, different types of peanuts may vary in colour, and the addition of sugar, when caramalised may change the colour of the Peanut Butter.

Salt may be added for taste, as well as oils to improve shelf life and “spreadability”.

Technically the colour of Peanut Butter can be measured easily and we have two solutions that are perfect for this task.

Solutions for Peanut Butter Colour Measurement

  1. CR-410 Chroma Meter

The CR-410 Chroma Meter is specifically suited to provide reliable colour data on sauces, juices, pastes and products like peanut butter making it ideal for use in the procurement of raw materials, during production or in the laboratory as a final product quality check.
A vital tool in achieving a consistent and appealing colour for retail shelves for all food products.


2. CR-5 Bench-top Colorimeter 

The CR-5 is a very versatile bench-top colorimeter to measure the colour of solid, pasty, granular and liquid samples either in reflectance or transmittance.
The top-port concept, offering various aperture sizes, allows measurement of almost any kind of samples.
The CR-5 is thus the perfect all-rounder laboratory instrument for applications such as Foods, Beverages, Flavours and Fragrances, Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals.

Practical and Technical measurement tips for Peanut Butter

Both instruments are widely used in our market, renowned for accuracy, robustness and ease of use. For Peanut Butter measurement, both instruments use a glass cell for reproducible results and can be used in stand alone mode or connected to corporate standard software for reliable record keeping.

There are some practical challenges faced when measuring Peanut Butter which can be overcome by using these tips.

TIP #1:

Filling the glass measuring cell can be time consuming as ensuring that the flat base has no bubbles as these will effect the readings and results.
We found that roughly spooning the peanut butter into the glass, and then microwaving, gives great results and ensures that the cell is filled completely and no air spaces are present. Two 30 second bursts allows the semi liquid to settle without any pockets on the measuring side of the cell.
Microwaving also helps with cleaning the cell afterwards.

NOTE: Prolonged heating may damage the cell and the contents.

TIP #2:

Many customers start measurement with the older and well trusted portable Chroma Meter CR-410.
After years of service, customers then upgrade to the more versatile bench-topop Chroma Meter CR-5.

In this case, new standards of colour MUST be created, as the two instruments while reliable, return different values, due to different settings and geometry.
See the data comparisons below to see what to expect.

Data received from the CR-410 Chroma Meter

Data received from the CR-5 Colorimeter

The SAME product with the SAME colour has been measured on the CR-410 Chroma Meter and the CR-5 Colorimeter, under similar conditions at the same time.
It is NORMAL for different settings to return different values.

Colour is the property of the OBSERVATION not the OBJECT. For this reason we always use a “Target” with a tolerance against which “Samples” are measured. Absolute values can be misleading. Using “Target” and “Sample” method also allows companies to batch different Peanut Butters to serve different markets who might prefer their Peanut Butter slightly lighter or darker.

You can quickly see that while the absolute L*a*b* values are different between each device, the colour difference across both devices is the same.

Continue this process to ensure that the colour of the Peanut Butter appears to be as you would expect it to be.