By S Haslam
Surely Tim and his partner James at Byron Bay Peanut Butter are the best thing to happen to peanut butter since sliced bread – Tim’s enthusiasm for the product was quite infectious when I spoke to him last week.
Peanut butter is becoming quite trendy, partly because it is a healthy high protein ingredient in modern plant-based diets, and perhaps because its rich flavour and creaminess is a key factor in many great Indonesian dishes, as well as Acai bowls, and protein bliss balls.
After Tim extolled the virtues of the light, loamy Kingaroy soil from which he sources his peanuts, I wasted hours researching peanut farming techniques. Did you know a peanut is not strictly a nut? It forms when the bright yellow peanut flower dips down below the soil, forming the peanut pod with ‘seeds’ inside underground. The stalk that connects the underground pods to the plant has to be delicately uprooted at harvest – heavy or wet soil makes this process too difficult. Australia’s crop is grown mostly in this special band of QLD soil, although Australia’s 40,000 tonne harvest is a small fraction of the world’s 45 million tonnes.
I now know that whilst China is the world’s biggest producer of peanuts, the high oleiac-peanuts Tim buys from Kingaroy have a healthier oil composition (more like avocado oil or olive oil), and also hold their crunch longer.
Anyway, Tim didn’t leave his research there, he’s also made sure that Byron Bay peanut butter is made just a few days after the peanuts are dry roasted – from picking to production is a very swift process for freshness of flavour. After all, Tim and his partner did give up their jobs to pursue this dream! They started producing in a small kitchen in the A&I almost three years ago, opened their own store in the A&I 14 months ago, and are now distributing both nationally and worldwide.
Actually, being smart blokes they didn’t quit their jobs straight away, but they did move to Byron to create the kind of thick, crunchy peanut butter that Tim had loved in the States, where it is a $2billion industry, with almost 60% of peanuts being made into peanut butter.
‘We started by doing the Bangalow and Byron markets, and the night markets, and a couple of the local stores,’ says Tim. ‘And we loved the way we met the community through the markets. But it grew very quickly – in the first six months we were distributing throughout Australia. Now we sell into Singapore, Fiji and Hong Kong as well.’
They also make a lot of related products: they do a smoky BBQ satay sauce (for example), snack packs, granola, and also sell peanut butter chocolate in their Byron store. Only some of their products are available in local stores, and some in Woolies in Mullum, and Byron too; the rest are only available onsite. So, it’s worth popping in for a look – they also have a locals-only offer.
The farmers of Kingaroy have been doing it tough during the drought – peanut production dramatically improves with exactly the right amount of moisture, and they also need high soil-temperatures. Now they have got rain, but there has been a shortage of peanuts. They can be moisture sensitive, so drought followed by flood doesn’t help.
Naturally, Tim is also fussy about his 100% Australian sea salt. ‘The particular lake we use has a very natural grey salt, it doesn’t need a lot of processing and has a nice minerally flavour, but is low in sodium, and doesn’t have a tinny bite, so it’s much softer. We also offer “no salt” peanut butter which is sometimes good for cooking, or those who are concerned about sodium’, says Tim.
Whether you’re looking for satay sauce, some ingredients for your cooking, inspiration for a peanut butter-based dish that will look great on your Insta feed, or just to recreate the best sort of peanut butter you enjoyed as a child, it’s worth popping in to see Byron Bay Peanut Butter in the A&I Estate.
For their local customers, they offer a ‘locals card’, so if you buy five jars in the shop you get the sixth jar free!
Byron Bay Peanut Butter. Shop 1 / 16 Tasman Way, Byron Bay.