We are a family of butter users. We don't buy or use margarine for various reasons. Many folk use the useless fact floating around cyberspace that margarine is one molecule away from plastic. Well it is but many other chemicals in the form of food we ingest are also one molecule away from a harmful chemical. The issue with margarine is much broader than one molecule! Margarine is full of preservatives, artificial colours, artificial flavours and now GMO oils. It is not what I would call a frugal choice for our food dollars. Butter, on the other hand is a natural by product of whole milk, packed full of natural flavour sans artificial anything. If you are lucky enough to have your owing dairy cows, you can easily make your own fresh butter. If not, you can make fresh butter from heavy whipping cream. The easiest way to do this is with a blender but during our heavy camping days, our kids were often entertained by making butter in a mason jar. I would pour in the cold whipping cream then cap tightly and pass it to one of the kids who would shake the jar until their arms were tired then pass it on to the next kid and so on until the cream separated into butter and whey. Butter made this way can be used as a spread, topping for vegetables, baking and cooking. I use the whey for baking and cooking.
Butter is available salted or unsalted, usually packaged in foil wrap or waxed paper inside a box. Here in beautiful Ontario, Canada it is available in 454 g/1 lb or 227g/ half pound blocks. At our vacation home in Florida, butter is also packaged into quarter pounds, 2 to 4 to a box, which is convenient for measuring. I prefer the foil wrapped 1 lb sizes because there is less packaging (eco-friendly) and it is generally less expensive. Commercially prepared butter is from the milk of a large mixture of cows so tends to taste the same but fresh butter from milking cows can taste slightly different depending on what they are eating. We notice a slight taste difference between our Ontario butter and that bought in Florida which is likely due to what the cows were eating, northern verses southern. Here are a few butter tips:
- Butter freezes nicely so stock up when it is on sale.
- Butter will keep on the counter without refrigeration for easy spreading unless it is too hot or humid.
- Use a butter bell in hot, humid conditions to keep butter fresh.
- Use butter as a flavour enhancer rather than a spread.
- Use unsalted butter for baking because using salted butter may result in an over salted result.
- Butter burns easily. To get the flavour of butter, add a little butter to olive oil when cooking.