Peanut Brittle

January 29th, 2006 by Potato

I just got back from the L-dot and there’s a nice package of homemade peanut brittle on the counter. I didn’t know peanut brittle was the sort of thing a mom could make. It’s like hard candies or fudge: you know that it is possible to make them “homemade”, but that it is in fact usually only done for small “homemade” stores. It’s not the sort of thing you find your mom actually making in your kitchen. To be perfectly literal, I still haven’t found my mom making it in the kitchen, just strong evidence of it. But it’s so good, she very well could have just bought a batch from Maple Leaf Fudge and put it in tupperware for me.

I really like peanut brittle. As I write this I’ve eaten almost half of what she left me, and I think I broke a tooth in the process. It was worth it. Anyhow, despite my obvious love for all that is sweet and nutty (hi Wayfare!) I hardly ever buy peanut brittle, because the best peanut brittle is only found in small confectionary shoppes or at tiny booths in town fairs. And those places without exception always have fudge available as well (usually peanut butter chocolate fudge at that), and for some reason peanut brittle costs as much or more than fudge, pound-for-pound, so I usually end up going with the fudge.

Yes, it is hard on the teeth. It’s hard, so you have to chew (it might dissolve upon prolonged sucking, but I don’t have that kind of patience, and from what patience I do have, it’s obvious that it takes more than 3 licks to get to the tootsie pop centre… er… I mean, it disolves slower than comparable “sucking” sweets, such as life savers), and once you bite into it, there’s a good chance that it will form some kind of peanut brittle concrete in the cusp of your molars.

My teeth are in terrible shape to begin with. I’ve liked my dentist a fair bit since she took over the practice from my old dentist, but there’s one thing that’s got me a little concerned. You see, due to a number of factors including diet (lots of sugar, acidity, and a terrible tendancy to graze rather than eat a small number of larger meals), behaviour (apparently there’s a period after eating where the most damage is done to the teeth, and that the damage over time goes down drastically about a half hour to an hour after eating, so eating non-stop never gives your teeth that minor break, and on top of that, my dentist says that I have a very strong bite, which is just doing mechanical injury to my teeth), the side-effects of my depression medication (chocolate) and genetics (my dad maybe has 6 natural teeth left in his mouth, having had dentures since his 20’s [gulp] and my mom’s had at least 4 root canals, 2 crowns, and a filling in every other tooth except her 4 front ones; I often joke about whether I’m not sure if I’ll end up with my dad’s teeth or my mom’s, but that it can’t be good either way), my teeth aquire cavities at prodigious rates. A new spot has formed since my last visit that is now large enough to poke with my tongue and see in the mirror. My dentist will wait until they get a bit bigger (the first sign of pain) and fill them then. The issue is that I’d like to see if there were some way to prevent these cavities from forming in the first place (aside from you know, brushing my teeth more than 2x a day, since I’m really only a morning & evenings kind of brusher, and, er… flossing, since I’m just really bad at it). Wayfare claims her dentist gives her teeth some sort of plastic film every year or so to seal out the worst of the damage. I remember getting this as a kid, and figured that they must have found out it caused cancer or something, since they stopped giving it to me. I asked my dentist about it recently, and she said she wouldn’t bother scheduling me to get it since with my “ferocious” bite, I’d wear through it in about a month, so there was no point. Now, it’s good that she’s always dealt honestly with me (AFAIK), but Wayfare thinks I should get a new dentist who will let me pay to get a much-needed protective coating on my teeth, and I think she has a point.

As for the coke that I drink, Wayfare’s been looking into buying 2L bottles instead of cans. I like the idea, since I know it takes less material to package a single bottle than a handful of cans, though I don’t know about the downstream recycling efficiency (apparently they make money recycling aluminum?). The big benefit she sees is that you can adjust the amount you want from a bottle, taking less than a full 355 mL if that’s all you want (though I’m not sure she’s counting the extra load of dishes in her figuring). The cost is comparable: cans are on sale for $3.33 for a 12-pack every other week (though the regular price is a painful $8 for 24, or $4.50 for 12, but unless I’m desperate I never pay that much), which is about 0.078 cents/mL, while bottles go for between $1-$2 (depending on sales, again), which works out to 0.05-0.1 cents/mL. However, I find cans to be much more convenient since there’s a nice spot on the door for them (whereas bottles would take up room on the already crowded shelf used for juice and milk), they’re more portable for taking in the car and to work, and since they’re small, it’s easy to keep a number of different flavours in the fridge (typically I have 2 7-up, 4 Coke, 2 diet mountain dew, 1 ginger ale, and 1 orange pop or root beer), and most importantly, you can finish a can of coke before it goes flat.

To help with that problem Wayfare recently got a pop bottle pump, a little device that replaces the bottle cap with a small bulb pump. The idea is that you use the pump to keep the pressure inside the bottle high so that the carbonation doesn’t come out of solution. It seemed to work well enough at first, as I was able to use the pump to make the pressure inside the bottle high enough that I was barely able to dent it with my fingers. However, the seal on it was very poor, and after about an hour, it was actually worse than simply screwing the cap back on in the first place (which might seem impossible, until you realize that with the old fashioned cap-only method you get atmospheric plus the pressure of some of the lost carbonation over an hour, whereas with a leaky pump seal you’ll always bleed back to atmospheric as the pop degasses). So it looks like the best method is still my uncle Al’s (yes, I have an uncle Al and an uncle Bob, it’s very stereotypical :) method of simply crushing the bottle until the liquid is near the top, then screw on the top. I haven’t had as much luck with that, since I’m as the Gungans say “… er… clumsy”, so in the process of trying to squeeze the bottle, I usually get a bit flying out the top if it’s more than half full, and if it’s less than half full then it gets really hard to squeeze enough of the air out of the bottle. It remains a handy method for crushing bottles and having them keep their small size for recycling, however.

4 Responses to “Peanut Brittle”

  1. Wayfare Says:

    A whole bunch of comments for this one (I really should just bother to post to my own blog):

    1) My parents have teeth comparable to your parents’, for most of their lives, once a year each of them gets at least one root canal and at least one major repair of a broken or cracked tooth from all the previous years of repair on top of the usual fillings and replacement fillings. They both have more crowns and bridges than they can remember anymore. My Mom recently changed to my dentist in Unionville, and the amount of work being done to her teeth has dropped dramatically, and I doubt it’s that all of a sudden she has better teeth. I just think you should consider trying a new dentist that focuses more on prevention than on repair, the way mine does. The way your teeth are going you’ll be needing repairs of the repairs in prodigious amounts by the time you’re older, so fewer repairs now is probably a good thing.

    2) I’m not sure what sort of plastic film you’re speaking of, although I have extremely deep and crevasse-y molars, and years ago my dentist filled them in a bit so that I wouldn’t get so many cavities there. You shouldn’t be able to wear through it very easily, it’s the same stuff they use to fill cavities. And every few years I still get that fluoride treatment thing they give kids to help circumvent my crappy teeth-genes.

    (And if you need help remembering to floss, just think of my uncle, who recently had to have his gums cut back and pealed away from his teeth so that they could clean between them. Ewwwwwwww!)

    3) Did you use the little rubber ring that came with the bottle pump? The one that I dropped about 3 times just washing the thing and figured we’d get half a dozen uses out of before we lost it down the drain? I think that’s what’s supposed to make a good seal on the bottle.

    4) That compressing the plastic pop bottle thing is what I do when I want to make the pop go flat super-quickly, like when I’m sick and need some nice flat ginger-ale. By compressing the bottle you create some sort of vacuum that encourages all the little bubbles out of the pop to help re-inflate the bottle.

  2. Netbug Says:


    First off, I have great teeth. My mom does not. My dad has so-so.

    Cut back on the pop and the juice. It’s hard as hell for the first two weeks, but that crap is just eating through the enamel on your teeth and weakening them like crazy (nothing you don’t know).

    Drink WATER! I’m not saying stop drinking pop (though I have, and I feel immensly cleaner and better), but when you have a coke, have like 250ml water after. It will wash it out of your mouth. Same with when you have any sugar based drink.

    Drink MILK! I have at least 500ml of milk a day. Now I drink skim, and I know that’s not everybody’s favorite, so have 2% or homo, or whatever. Juut get that calcium in you.

    Use Listerine. It helps. The no-name stuff IS NOT the same (there’s a reason that Listerine is like 35% more expensive).

    CUT BACK ON THE SUGAR! I (and everyone else who has ever met you) knows that you have a sweet tooth. That’s fine. So do I. But, cut back man. That stuff is doing nothing for you. It takes no energy to process it so it’s going straight to fat (you can’t get a simpler carb than processed white sugar). It is terrible for your teeth. It makes you sick (trust me on this, if you cut your sugar back for like a month, you will feel better).

    Now, these changes are pretty drastic, but put it this way, and I’m not exagerating at all… I cut out sugar. I dropped from 29% body fat to 16% and, I HAVEN’T BEEN SICK IN 3 YEARS! Not even a cold.

    So, it’s up to you. I’m not preachin, I’m just sayin. :)

  3. Ben Says:

    As soon as I got my adult teeth my dentist put some crazy coating on them with a laser and I’ve never had a cavity since (knock on wood). I used to be a 3+ a day Pepsi drinker in highschool/university, and my sister used to eat candy like no tomorrow and she’s had nary a toothache either. I’d say tell your dentist you want the coatings, I mean what can it hurt? I’ve had mine for well over a decade now (probably close to two *shudder*), so I can’t see how you’re bite could be SO strong that you’d wear through it in mere months.

    As for the 2L bottle pump, I had one of those once. I found that the first glass was fine, but after that the rest of the bottle was just flat. I think the way it worked used the carbonation to pump the pop out, and in doing that sucked all the carbonation out of the pop.

    I tried that squishing the bottle trick to preserve carbonation, as far as I’m concerned, it’s counterproductive to the max. The bottle will naturally want to expand back to its regular shape and in doing so it will provide an extra force to suck the carbonation out of the pop. I don’t know about London, but here in TO they have mini-cans at the grocery store, if you’re just looking for a quick fix you can always get some of those, I think they’re about 200mL. Then again if you’re looking for a cost effective solution, that’s probably not it…

  4. Ben Says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention peanut brittle! Yes you can make it at home, you obviously don’t watch enough Food Network :o) Just ask Alton Brown!

    Peanut Brittle,1977,FOOD_9936_24649,00.html

    And for good measure…

    Chocolate Fudge,1977,FOOD_9936_26073,00.html

    Peanut Butter Fudge,1977,FOOD_9936_26074,00.html