Going organic off-grid
Butter is bad for you because the fat clogs your arteries right? So that’s why you switched to margarine. Take a closer look at this full-fat spread which was ushered out during the Second World War, and you might just change your mind.
Who Invented Butter?
Are you a middle-aged caveman? Then you’ll remember real butter! That rock-hard spread in its shiny silver paper, Lur-p… what? When you preside over the name too long, yes this sounds a little weird! The name doesn’t have the same moo-rish adjectives as Utterly Butter.., but believe me, it’s not butter. This delicious sounding and descriptive name is a god’s honest slippery slope- to a downgrade. I hate to tell you, but you’ve been skimmed!
For the younger generation, what’s butter? You haven’t tasted perfection and why should you care? We know this spread is made from milk, please say you do! And who wants to wait ten minutes for their oleo to soften on a radiator before making a butty? Pour liquid gold down the sink on a sweltering day and make do with dry bread, no thanks! So I’ve got some persuading to do.
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Preservation- a history
Did you know that only posh people could afford a freezer at first? These hefty treasure chests were kept in the garage. No car stall?- I guess you probably didn’t have a five-star cooler either.
Digging deep down into the bottom of this edible coffer and unloading the whole contents onto the cement floor in order to find the ice cream, before slinging the stinging icy blocks back in, was, I’m sure, most irritating. Chest freezers were invented about the same time as supermarkets- and multi-packs, and plastic bank cards.
We didn’t have a freezer but a small fridge with a tiny icebox at the top, like most back in the day. It was always iced up with snow, burying a single ice-cube tray, wedging the container solid, and only discernible through an igloo-like snow hole. With a spatula, you hacked away at the crust of snow, if you were wanting enough for a cool drink.
What’s So Good About Butter?
The butter dish was a joy! The spread lived in the larder, not the fridge. Before fridges, larders sufficed- a walk-in cupboard- shelves, bottled home brews, gold top milk, homemade autumn jam, fresh bread, a date and walnut cake, a lemon meringue pie; cool and dark.
This was where the butter dish lived. A shelf over the cellar steps which you leaned out to; nothing in wartime Britain was within easy reach.
The Foodie Connoisseur
Consider taste. Utterly Butter.. is named so for a reason. The best chefs make their own butter because they’re connoisseurs of flavour. You can also heat butterfat to high temperatures whereas other fats, when hot, can produce harmful free radicals that harm your cells.
Try butter on a salted cracker, or dropped cold into a hot baked potato with a little salt, and you’ll relish the difference. We even had butter curlers- I threw one in the tip the other day after clearing my Mum’s garage. Now I wish I hadn’t.
Butter v Margarine
In came plastic tubs, catering-sized boxes of cooking marg. with their granular hard fatty lumps, soft and always spreadable, added vitamin D, low-fat, low cholesterol, high in polyunsaturates, and healthier for all. Yet, scientifically advanced, better educated, well-informed modern society can’t hide the growing problem of obesity!
Margarine being so easy to spread, you could have much more, and it was cheap too- well I agree with that! The manufacturers were so concerned about your health, that they forgot to care bout the sudden increase in plastic waste. The butter dish was so washable.
A Buttery Demise
It is shocking to discover, that a local middle-aged dairy farmer and his wife, don’t remember how utterly buttery real butter tastes. From seven generations of dairy hill farmers who used to make their own unique butter and send their cold block produce down to the valleys to sell at local markets, the latter two generations have never tried making this glorious, golden spread!
Kudos to the grandfather, who reminisces upon his disabled grandma who would sit in a chair shaking a Golden Lyle syrup tin of cream, until the fat separated from the milk, and the transformation into beautiful yellow butter was complete. He explains how farmers patted the slab square and stamped on their trademark, with the wooden paddles he had dug out.
Worse, the modern farmer perhaps dislikes butter. “Margarine is much more convenient- spreadable straight from the fridge, and the butter tastes funny.” They’re not used to the mature taste- suspicious of the ghee smell that suggests rancid milk, on the turn. Yet, where margarine comes from- is anyone’s guess!
Is Butter Fat Bad for You?
Yellow butter contains Vitamin E for skin and hair, and K2 and fatty acids for metabolizing calcium- needed to help lose weight and prevent cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and cancer. Scientists backpedal on previous claims that saturated fats damage the body, now admitting that in small amounts, butterfat helps the body digest other damaging fats and regulates the hormones. What’s not to like?
Butter Making for Babies- step by step
Butter can be simply made by filling a jar with full-fat, creamy milk and agitating. A jar is better than a bottle when it comes time to retrieve the buttery mass from inside, but a strong seal is helpful if you don’t want to spray milk everywhere. Start by letting the cream sit overnight- to separate a little more. A quicker outcome is seen if the milk is not too cold.
It takes about half an hour of shaking, but making your butter is an organic experience. The pace of life slows. The effort results in a rich reward, as the cream turns from sloshing, takes on a deeper sound, and the butter magically begins to form. The cream becomes harder to shake as small particles of butterfat begin to spread a thick coat on the container sides. The fat finally separates from the buttermilk as a large lump of yellow butter forms and floats to the top.
Once you have butter, pour off the buttermilk and set it aside. Put the soft spread in a large bowl and use a spoon to squeeze out the remaining liquid. Next, pour in some cold water and squidge your mantequilla around in the dish. Pour off the cloudy liquid, and repeat the rinse three times, or until the water becomes clear. This prevents the butter from spoiling.
Add a little salt to your beurre if you prefer. Take care not to add too much- taste-test as you go. Wrap the butterfat in clingfilm and roll, or pat into your desired shape, and refrigerate until ready to eat. Flat wooden paddles were used years ago, to shape and stamp the produce with a hallmark.
Organic Life- a slower pace
The first time I attempted making butter I used an electric mixer with a small amount of cream. It took at least an hour of separating the foam from the watery milk, but all of a sudden, I had some butter. My husband said, “WOW!” Oh, la la! The solid lump of yellow appeared like magic. Yet making butter is a gentle affair. The mixer was too aggressive.
We considered the old ways of using a paddle, which churned the cream rather than spraying it through two mixer blades. The paddles push the liquid around- it’s a very different motion. Sometimes children had the task of rocking the creamy milk back and forth in a cradle. In practice, the gentle hand method worked better.
Why Butter is Yellow
Yellow butter is beautiful, healthy, and full of carotene. It comes from pasture-fed cows. Butter can be white too, but grass-fed cows are the best, producing a better flavour, and happier cows too.
These carotenoids can be converted to Vitamin A, and are powerful anti-toxicants, and essential to a healthy immune system, growth, and eye health. There’s evidence that they improve memory and brain health too. Yellow and orange vegetables and dark leaves contain carotene too; so great to know you’re as good as spreading vegetables on your bread!
Raw Milk Butter- is it safe?
Off-grid life is much about making relationships with our food producers. As farmers make fewer profits and supermarkets control the food we eat, never has there been a more crucial time to understand the nutrition we eat and how important that is to us. Connecting with farmers is a great way to go.
We buy raw milk, and a healthy relationship with our dairy farmer ensures a consistent milk supply at a reasonable price. Raw milk can be expensive. But we help with Hay Day, and continue our custom, so a good relationship is made. You can buy raw cream too, and have the fresh bottled dairy delivered nationally, right to your door.
Raw milk was given a bad press, along with butter, that doesn’t stand up when considering the excellent health benefits of both. True organic, unaltered produce is at its most nutritional, and can keep you in tip-top health. For this, I’d rather pay a little more.
Can Raw Butter Go Off?
Because butter is high in fat, with little water, it takes a long time to go off. Scientists who studied this found that even after ten months when kept refrigerated, hardly, if any bacteria, grew on the produce. At worst, it may mature to sour-tasting milk or go a little rancid, but this only affects the flavour. Rancid butter is still fine to eat- you may use it for cooking.
Cultured butter is made from raw milk which is full of healthy gut bacteria and lactose digesting enzymes. So if you’re lactose intolerant, you might find you can enjoy unpasteurized milk with no bloating or burping.
The Quick and Easy Way To Make Butter
Shaking milk to make butter is time-consuming. I recommend you try the process at least once because this is such a wonderful experience. However, after shaking three jars of cream for half an hour each, we decided to invest in an electric butter churn. These are expensive, so you need to have a regular supply of cream. If you own a cow- that’s cool!
The milk churn did a fabulous job, turning two and a half litres of cream into butter within five minutes. The leftover buttermilk is perfect for rice pudding or baking scones or cakes. Raise a glass of milk then, to off-grid independence; invest in your health, and celebrate a return to real, raw butter!
Do you still think butter is bad for you then? Did you know how to make it? Did I persuade you to try making your own spread? Should we remember old skills like butter churning? Join the chat. Leave a comment.
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Disclaimer: This blogger takes no responsibility for the actions you take from this post; it is for your entertainment and interest. This post is a personal opinion only. You should seek dietary advice by making yourself fully informed and taking the responsibility to research widely. As with all foods, you should moderate your intake of fats and consider other intake factors; seeking expert nutritional advice.