Butter – Getting the best quality you can afford

butter margarine aisle

by Kathy | Disclosure

Danish Dough Mixing Whisks

This little tool is one of those super cheap kitchen items that makes life so much easier. If you are mixing doughs by hand from time to time pick one of these up.

Butter butter everywhere and not a drop that’s real! Ever feel that way staring at the refrigerated section at the supermarket? Diana at Eat More Butter definitely has. Foodie at Kitchen Drawer Online took a series of pictures showing that only about 10% of the butter-like food items in the refrigerated section is actually butter! The remainder is margarine.

Butter quality matters! Beyond the basics of simply avoiding margarine which contains hydrogenated fats, it’s important to find the most vitamin rich – least likely to be adulterated butter you can get your hands on. We’re going to talk about the determining different levels of quality in order to make the best possible quality decision each time we reach for butter.

The available choices are:( $$’s indicate relative cost)

  • Excellent ($$$) – Homemade butter from known good quality raw grassfed cream.
  • Excellent ($$$) – Commercial butter from known good quality raw grassfed cream.
  • Very Good ($$) – Homemade butter from good quality organic lightly pasteurized cream like Kolona organic whipping cream, for example. Make sure the cream isn’t ultra-pasteurized. You can learn more from Food Renegade about Ultra-Pasteurized milk and cream here.
  • Pretty Good ($$) – Commercial butter from lightly pasteurized grassfed cream, like KerryGold. Be aware that Kerry Gold makes at least one product that is marketed as low-fat. That one wouldn’t be the one to pick.
  • Allright ($) – Commercial butter – Take care that the ingredients indicate that it has nothing but butter and salt in it. Also, be aware that such assurances of contents depends on the quality of the inspection the production plant received. Near as I can tell virtually all the sold butter in the US is produced here. Seems likely that the cream didn’t travel far either, but in the wonderland of food transport technology just be aware that there is only so much you can know about food coming from commercial sources.
  • Absolutely Avoid – butter products that contain some percentage of butter mixed with vegetable oils which will be hydrogenated.
  • Absolutely Avoid – margarine

Navigating the Grocery Store Butter Section

When selecting butter from a store always but always read the fine print ingredient list on the container. You can pretty well ignore the large print labeling on the front of the carton that will say things like “All Natural” and “Pure”. While it sounds like you’re getting pure butter these words have no legal meaning in the food business. Lots of other stuff could be in that container.

When you find the words hydrogenated or vegetable oils you’ll know that you just found some margarine, whether the name of the product indicates it’s margarine or not. Just set the box back down and slowly back away ;-)

Making your own Butter

If you can get some good quality cream I highly recommend making all the butter for your family. Making butter in a modern mixer is unbelievably simple and satisfying. With a large mixer like the Bosch you can make a large batch in about 20 minutes flat. People make butter in food processors and blenders too, and it’s just as easy. It’s one of those things that people associate with lots of hard work that is in fact very very easy and simple to do. It’s pretty fail proof! If you don’t have any kind of equipment, don’t despair. You can still make butter by simply shaking a jar. I’ll be putting up the instructions in my next post, so see ya there :-)

Do you think the relative cost of these butters is the same in your neck of the woods? Would you rate things the way I did? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Links to More Info on Butter

This post is linked at The Healthy Home Economist’s Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday at Cooking Traditional Foods, Fat Tuesday at Real Food Forager , Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Gnowfglin’s Simple Thursday, Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday and Fresh Bites Friday at Real Food Whole Health.

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lives just outside of Austin with her husband of 20 years Barry, youngest son Jake, three cats and about a dozen chickens. She has another older son and a beautiful daughter-in-law who live in Austin. While not a Grandma yet, with two grown kids she remains hopeful. Kathy wants a world where everyone has fresh wholesome food and feels that cookin' like a granny woman is the surest way to get there.

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