Saturday, April 14, 2012

Comparing Organic Butters

He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish. ~Judges 5:25

Mmmmm! I love butter...real butter...made from the cream of pasture-fed cows. No hydrogenated oils. Higher in Omega 3 oils. No chemicals. No denaturing processing. In the last few decades, people have been warned about health issues associated with butter, but statistically there is more heart disease since the marketing of butter substitutes. I truly believe real butter is far healthier than any alternative available. (You can read some info on why here.) A recent phone conversation with a friend reminded me that I have not only preferences for butter but between butters as well.

The first time I began to realize the difference in the butters, I made two batches of Snowballs cookies, which actually go by other names like Pecan Sandies, Russian Tea Cookies, Mexican Wedding Cookies, and several others. The first batch came out light colored and held the shape beautifully, but the second one was dark and flattened somewhat. All the ingredients were the same, the oven was the same setting, the cookie pan was the same, and it was placed in the same position in the oven. I had used butter for both batches but different brands. What happened reminded me of the time my mother and I were making these cookies and we planned to double the recipe, but my mother had doubled the butter and none of the other ingredients so the dough flatten quickly in the oven. We rescued that batch by taking out the warm dough and doubling the other ingredients. From that I learned that softer butters required a bit more flour to produce the desired result, but with the right butter, there was no guess work involved.

There are three main companies for organic butters available in my area. They are Horizon, Organic Valley, and Woodstock Farms. The latter two I can purchase from my favorite health food store, but the first is not carried there and I have found it at Kroger. I would rather buy my butter from the local health food store, but there are two reasons that I buy Horizon organic butter from Kroger more than the others.

First is that Horizon butter is the best of the three for baking. As a table butter, it has good flavor and is a bit harder to cut, but this is what makes it an excellent butter for baking. I am against using anything with hydrogenated oils and I do not fear saturated fats. (Actually, I wrote an article on this a few months ago that there is no study able to support the medical mainstream hype that saturated fats are bad. Actually, studies have shown quite the opposite.) My favorite cookies, biscuits, and pie crusts are butter rich, so it does make a huge difference which butter I use!

The other reason I buy Horizon at Kroger is because the store nearest to me usually orders in larger quantities than will be sold before the expiration date. Kroger has a policy to mark down foods three days before the "sell by" date. If I watch the dates, I can buy the butter on a "Manager's Special" at about half off the regular price. I once bought $75 of butter ($150 worth), which was 25 pounds. That may sound crazy to some, but I have two large freezers so I place the butter in freezer bags in one of them and use it as needed--and frozen butter is perfect for making pie crusts! The next expiration date for the salted butter is May 5th at the nearest Kroger, so I will be making a point to shop there on the 2nd or 3rd of May.

Although, Horizon is my favorite overall, Organic Valley is my preference for table butter. It is a softer butter making it easy to cut, it melts at a lower temperature making it easier to spread, and it is a bit sweeter than the others. It has a wonderful melt in your mouth feel too. However, it is also the most expensive of the three, which means I rarely buy it unless on sale and there is a coupon for it at the same time. That has not happened in a very long time.

Woodstock Farms' butter is something in between the two. It is not a good for baking as the Horizon, but better than Organic Valley. It is not as flavorful as Organic Valley for serving at the table either, but easier to cut than Horizon. It also costs less than either one at the suggested retail price, if none are on sale, but I rarely buy butter unless it is on sale.

Organic butters tend to go on sale a few times a year, particularly in November at the beginning of the holiday baking season, but that is not really a factor for me if I have bought bulk quantities of butter at marked down prices. I mean, I just never see butter at half price during a sale, although when combined with a coupon, it could be close and I do like the best butter presented at a holiday feast with my multi-seed whole wheat rolls and flaky biscuits.

~ My Lord, I ask your blessing on the organic farmers who have chosen to use more laborious and time-consuming and more expensive methods of farming while shunning the use of synthetic chemicals. ~


  1. Jacob likes to make his own butter :)

    1. I would like to do that too, but there is only so much of me to go around and my time is even more crunched at late. The place I buy my raw milk is now selling cream too, so would not have to do the separation process but I have not figured it all out to find out if it would be cost effective.


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