Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You can ring my bell

I previously demonstrated how easy it is to make fresh butter at home in this blog post.  It is literally 15 minutes (or less) from cream to buttery awesomeness. 

Why settle for Land O' Lakes?  Does anyone even know where the land of lakes is?  Well, actually it’s in Arden Hills, Minnesota . . . but that’s beside the point.  Do you know when the butter was made or how long it’s been sitting around before it makes it to your grocer? 

And what about butter vs . . . . ugh . . . margarine.  Given my druthers(1) . . . I would pick butter every time.  My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that it’s better for you.  I’m not saying it’s healthier for you.  There’s no argument that butter absolutely tastes better and I know exactly what butter is made of . . . milk, a no-brainer.   As for margarine,  I don’t know a whole heck of a lot about its composition, but what I DO know is that is a concoction created by chemists in the mid-19th century as a suitable butter substitute for the lower classes in Europe . . . suitable = cheap.

15 minutes of your time, an uncertain past or a science experiment . . . your choice. 

If you choose butter, there are several good ways to store your butter.  Butter freezes quite well – up to nine months.  You can keep butter in the refrigerator for 1 – 3 months.  But if you want to have soft, spreadable butter you can leave it on the counter for about a week before it starts to go rancid . . . unless you have a French butter dish.  You can keep butter fresh, soft and tasty at room temperature (under 80F) in a butter bell for up to a month.

The French butter dish is a pottery crock has two parts: a base with a hollow cylinder attached to it, and a cup that also serves as a lid. The cup holds the packed in butter, and the base holds water. The water creates an airtight seal that keeps oxygen away from the butter so that refrigeration is not needed.

Because butter is basically oil, it won’t mix with the water, and as long as it’s not too hot, it will remain sticky enough to stay inside the bell. You can keep this on your kitchen table so that butter is always available without having to soften it.

(1) Druthers meaning - if I had my preference.
This is an American phrase and not used widely elsewhere. Druthers is a shortening of 'would rathers'. The phrase originated in the late 19th century and is first cited in the January 1870 edition of Overland monthly and Out West magazine, in a story called Centrepole Bill, by George F. Emery:

"If I was a youngster, I 'drather set up in any perfession but a circus-driver, but a man can't always have his 'drathers."

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