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Posts Tagged ‘Spring Butter’

On the left is commercially-made, organic butter, on the right is homemade, spring butter

Imagine a pad of butter as intensely yellow as the flowers of the common buttercup. On pasture-based dairy farms the most productive grass growing seasons are marked by gradual changes in production. As the nutritional content of the grass peaks, the butter can be as yellow as the flowers of the buttercup.

Carotenes from the grass are concentrated in butter and give it a naturally pale yellow color.[1] The color is a sign that the cows are allowed access to pasture. On dairy farms where cows have no access to pasture producers add annatto (a brightly colored Latin American spice) to their butter. However, when cows are raised on pasture their butter has a naturally yellow hue. It is rich in nutrients.

The vitamins A, D, K2-MK4, and E; omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; conjugated linoleic acid (CLA); and trace minerals can all be found in butter from naturally raised cows.[2] [3] The Danish Institute of Agricultural Research has shown that organic milk has significantly more nutrients than conventional milk.[4] For example, they found, on average, 50% more vitamin E and 75% more Betacarotene in organic milk than in conventional milk. The study attributes these nutritional differences to the pasture that organically raised animals are allowed to graze.

Environmental toxins (like pesticides) can bioaccumulate in dairy products. Pastured and organically raised dairy animals are not exposed to these toxins. It is especially important to seek out dairy products from grass-based farms that use organic methods.

Making your own high-vitamin butter from local, high-quality cream is straightforward. The food processor is your modern butter churn. The only ingredient required is the cream. If possible, talk with the dairy and ask when the spring (or fall) grass will peak and plan to make butter at that time. Watch the local weather and the grass in your neighborhood. Here, in the Pacific Northwest, the grass grows fastest when the sun shines after a few days of rain. We’ve had a few weeks of this type of weather. It’s time to bask in the nutritious luxury of spring butter!

This was shared on Real Food Wednesday.


[1] Jessica Prentice, Full Moon Feast (White River Junction: Chelsea Green, 2006) (p. 97).

[2] Chris Masterjohn, “On the Trail of the Elusive X-Factor: A Sixty-Two-Year-Old Mystery Finally Solved, ” www.westonaprice.org/abcs-of-nutrition/175-x-factor-is-vitamin-k2(2008).

[3] Sally Fallon Nourishing Traditions (Washington, New Trends, 2001) (pp. 15-17).

[4] “Organic milk ‘higher in vitamins’,” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4153951.stm, 7 Jan 20

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Butter from a local Jersey cow that has grazed on nutrient-rich spring pasture

Sweet Cream Butter

Makes about ½ cup

I’m always amazed as I watch cream being worked into buttery curds and thin buttermilk.  I prefer to use a food processor for this task, but there are less hi-tech ways to get the job done (i.e. an old-fashioned churn or simply shaking the cream in a mason jar with a tightly fitted lid).

1 quart high-quality cream (sometimes sold as heavy cream)

unrefined sea salt, ground as desired (optional)

clean water (well, spring, or filtered)

Assemble the food processor and fit it with the metal blade (or use a blender). Pour the cream into the bowl. Process (or blend on low) until curds of butter begin to stick together and separate from the buttermilk, about 6-8 minutes.

Line a colander with butter muslin (a tightly woven cheesecloth) or with a flour-sack style towel. (Shake out the muslin or towel to remove any lint.) Position the lined colander over a bowl. Scrape the curds and buttermilk into the colander. Use a rubber spatula to stir the curds and press out the buttermilk. Pour ¼ cup water over the butter. Continue to stir and press. Rinse the butter with water three more times. Stir and press until all of the liquid has been removed. Scrape the butter from the lined colander and form it into a ball. Pat it dry with a paper towel. Place in a small dish. Add the optional sea salt and stir to distribute.

Store butter and buttermilk tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. The butter may be stored at room temperature (about 70 degrees F) for up to 3 days; or it can be tightly wrapped and frozen for up to 6 months. Use the buttermilk as a substitute for the liquid in breads or in smoothies.

Variation:

Cultured Butter:

Substitute 1 quart crème fraiche for the cream.

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