Diary of a day in the kitchen with Dash and Bella by Phyllis Grant.
I put cold heavy cream into a jar and shook it for 20 minutes straight. I almost gave up. The cream thickened and then it felt like I was shaking something solid. It felt impossible. And then I heard and felt a SPLAT in the jar that reverberated through my knees and down into my toes. I peered into the jar. No way. Butter.
I was drenched in sweat. I added some crunchy salt and then ate the butter like it was kick ass French cheese.
I made butter a few more times with Dash and Bella. We learned some things along the way about science, magic, and determination.
Heavy cream is composed of butter fat suspended in liquid. When you shake you know what out of cream, the butter fat comes together into a lovely mound and separates from the buttermilk. This separation is the SPLAT.
Here are some tips, should you decide to engage in such a fun activity:
DON’T fill your jar up more than halfway with heavy cream. The cream expands as you shake it. Leave yourself some shaking room.
DON’T shake cold cream unless you really want this to be a sweaty workout. Leave it out on the counter for a few hours to come up to room temperature. You can even leave it out up to 24 hours to fester. The bacteria will munch away and produce lactic acid which will give the butter and the buttermilk a bit of a sour flavor. Dash kept looking for the bacteria bugs. He didn’t see any.
DON’T tuck the jar of cream into the side of the the swing as a shortcut. You really do have to shake it. One splash per second. Slam the cream against the side of the jar. Like a crashing wave. This transformation takes some force, some time, and some patience. The grownups finished off the butter for Bella. Grandpa experienced the SPLAT. Bella was jealous.
DO save the buttermilk and use it to make pancakes. You can strain the butter with a coffee filter or a fine strainer. You can get fancy and rinse the butter in a bowl of ice water. Just make sure to squeeze out all the water and pat it dry. But the rinsing step is not necessary if you’re eating the butter right away.
DO buy organic heavy cream from grass fed cows. This will make butter with the best flavor. And at certain times of the year the white cream will produce a vibrant yellow butter. The yellow comes from the carotene in the grass eaten by the cows. No annatto coloring needed here.
DO use the butter or freeze it within 24 hours. Otherwise your butter will taste like really skanky cheeese.
Of course you can just throw the heavy cream into a mixer and make butter in about 3 minutes. But that’s too easy and your kids don’t need to know that.
THE LIST OF BUTTER’S BENEFITS IS IMPRESSIVE
One of the most healthy whole foods you can include in your diet is butter, truly better than margarine or other vegetable spreads. More specifically, organic grass fed raw milk would be the best due to its fatty acid composition and increase in beneficial fats like conjugated linolenic acid.
Butter is a rich source of easily absorbed vitamin A, needed for a wide range of functions in the body, from maintaining good vision, to keeping the endocrine system in top shape. Butter also contains all the other fat-soluble vitamins (E, K, and D).
Butter is rich in trace minerals, especially selenium, a powerful antioxidant. Ounce for ounce, butter has more selenium per gram than either whole wheat or garlic. Butter also supplies iodine, needed by the thyroid gland (as well as vitamin A, also needed by the thyroid gland).
Butter has appreciable amounts of butyric acid, used by the colon as an energy source. This fatty acid is also a known anti-carcinogen. Lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid, is a potent antimicrobial and antifungal substance. Butter also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which gives excellent protection against cancer. Range-fed cows produce especially high levels of CLA as opposed to “stall fed” cattle. It pays, then, to get your butter from a cow that has been fed properly. Butter also has small, but equal, amounts of omega 3and 6 fatty acids, the so-called essential fatty acids.
These are a special category of fatty acids that protect against gastrointestinal infections , especially in the very young and the elderly. Children, therefore, should not drink skim or low fat milk. Those that do have higher rates of diarrhoea than those who drink whole milk.
Despite all of the misinformation you may have heard, cholesterol is needed to maintain intestinal health, but is also needed for brain and nervous system development in the young. Again, this emphasizes the need for cholesterol-rich foods for children. Human breast milk is extremely high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Margarine – cheaper?
Standing in direct opposition to all of these healthful qualities stands margarine and assorted “vegetable oil spreads.” While these may be cheaper, you’d never eat them again if you knew how they were made. All margarines are made from assorted vegetable oils that have been heated to extremely high temperatures. This insures that the oils will become rancid. After that, a nickel catalyst is added, along with hydrogen atoms, to solidify it. Nickel is a toxic heavy metal and amounts always remain in the finished product. Finally, deodorants and colourings are added to remove margarine’s horrible smell (from the rancid oils) and unappetizing grey colour. And if that is not enough, in the solidification process, harmful trans-fatty acids are created which are carcinogenic and mutagenic. What would you rather have: a real food with an abundance of healthful qualities or a stick of carcinogenic, bleached, and deodorized slop?
News for weightwatchers
Some of you might be watching your weight and be rather hesitant to add butter into your diet. Have no fear. About 15% of the fatty acids in butter are of the short and medium chain variety which are NOT stored as fat in the body , but are used by the vital organs for energy.
When looking for good quality butter, raw and cultured is best. This might be hard to find, however. Organic butter is your next best thing, with store-bought butter being at the bottom. Remember what we’ve said about commercially-raised cows; its worth a few extra cents to get high quality butter for you and your family.