Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Make Your Own Butter

Have you ever whipped cream just a bit too long? Ever turned your back on the mixer (probably to send a text message, knowing you) while whipping cream only to see the cream solidify? You just made butter.

You buy Land-o-Lakes butter at Kroger, right? Pretty good stuff. A move up from the colored whipped partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (i.e., flavored Crisco) you ate in college. Butter is made from cream, which comes from the milk of dairy cows. So far, so good.

What sort of drugs were those cows treated with? Antibiotics get into the bloodstream of cows, and thereby into the milk. Low-level antibiotic exposure can result in the build-up of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans.

What sort of pesticides or herbicides were used on grain fed to the cows in the milk factory? Many herbicides such as picloram (Tordon, Grazon, or Pathway) and clopyralid (Stinger, Curtail, or Transline) are classified as organochlorine compounds, and are highly persistent in the environment and poorly metabolized by cows and humans. Most organochlorine compounds are fat soluble, and hence can be concentrated in milk. The dung of animals fed picloram-treated grass has herbicidal properties, and can't be used on gardens. That is incredibly screwed-up.

How were the cows that provided the milk for Land-o-Lakes butter raised? Outside eating grass? No. Wrong. How about in a barn on a concrete floor eating grain and being milked to death? Just like all other commercial farm animals. Maybe this makes you say "whatever." Maybe you don't know you have alternatives.

Here is the alternative: there is a dairy in Ohio called Snowville Creamery. Read about their products. These guys make fabulous  milk and cream from grass-grazed cows, so fabulous that it is the only milk used in Jeni's Ice-cream. (I pity you if you've never tasted her ice-cream.) Snowville makes a heavy cream that is unbelievably rich. It is light yellow in color, and sometimes the butterfat solidifies in the milk when it is refrigerated. It is the definition of quality.

home-made butter
Buy a half-gallon of Snowville Heavy Cream. It is about $9 and is sold all around Ohio. Put it in your refrigerator. Take the cold cream and pour it into a food processor. Whiz the cream continuously for several minutes until it solidifies. Don't worry about over-whizzing it. The solid yellow butter will separate from a watery liquid known as buttermilk. Take the yellow solid and drain it in a colander. You may need to add some ice-water to the food processor to help the butter drain. Place it in a bowl, work it around to get the rest of the buttermilk out, and take some really good sea salt and mash it into the butter. Eat the butter. It's fresh, it comes from healthy cows that are treated humanely, the cream is made by a local company, and the profits benefit a small family farm that employs local people doing meaningful work feeding people.

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