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Sunflower Seed "Butter" Improves as It Spreads
Across America By Erin Peabody May
For a long time, the only way to get at a sunflower seed's nutty,
chewy kernel was to painstakingly crack or pry open the seed to pluck out its
precious bit of meat.
But now, thanks to a specially-processed sunflower butter that
Agricultural Research Service food
technologists helped develop five years ago, more and more consumers, including
those allergic to peanuts, are able to spread sunflower seeds onto breads,
crackers, apples and any other food base once reserved for pairing with peanut
The spread was developed through a cooperative research and
development agreement between ARS and Red
River Commodities, a sunflower seed processor in Fargo, N.D. Known as
SunButter, the sunflower seed product
now comes in creamy, natural, natural crunch, honey crunch--and even a low-carb
The availability of a peanut-free spread is great news for the roughly
3 million American adults and children who suffer from peanut allergies.
Because of concerns about students with peanut allergies, 12 states
now include SunButter in their school lunch programs, according to Red River
Commodities. And some airlines now provide SunButter, or snacks made with
SunButter, to their passengers as an alternative to peanuts.
Guraya, food technologists at ARS'
Regional Research Center in New Orleans, La., developed the ideal
processing conditions that ultimately led to the recipe for a natural,
good-tasting sunflower butter that was more palatable than previous sunflower
They have helped Red River Commodities find the optimal sunflower
spread formulation with just the right amounts of sugar, salt and stabilizer.
According to Lima, even though these ingredients are added in only small
amounts, too much or too little of any of the three can impair the butter's
taste and quality.
Lima and Guraya's research on finding the ideal sunflower butter
formulation will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Food
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.