Let’s face it – butter is an essential ingredient in some of our most favourite things. Chocolate chip cookies, brown butter ravioli, mashed potatoes, homemade salted caramel, grilled corn on the cob, hot popcorn, butter-basted anything…
Not long ago, butter had a bad rap with health professionals. Across the board, they recommended a diet made up of low fat options, which meant: “bye bye butter”. But now, with dieting trends like the Keto lifestyle, butter is a big deal again. It’s carb-free, 80% fat, and is extremely easy to source. It also happens to be one of the richest food sources of butyrate: a short-chain fat that may play a significant role in promoting brain health, according to research.
Even if you’re not following the Keto-craze, and you’re just a fan of eating good quality food that has ingredients you can pronounce on its label, then you’re in luck. Butter is just cream (and salt if that’s the way you like it). So now that butter is back in our good books, you don’t have to feel so guilty for eating the thing that makes everything better.
If you’re passionate about supporting your local community by choosing to put your purchasing power into small businesses, you might be wondering: well, where can I get my hands on Alberta butter? Thankfully, Alberta boasts a tried-and-true family business that has been churning butter for 51 years. Foothills Creamery is still using the same old- fashioned technique of churning butter that they started with in 1969.
They take a great deal of pride in having a personal relationship with each batch of butter that is churned, with a dedicated employee standing watch, waiting until the butter breaks. Every Canadian-sourced batch of cream is treated with care, crafted for the highest quality, creating their signature taste. When you purchase butter from Foothills Creamery (they offer 8 different kinds), you can feel confident that you’re about to enjoy some of the best butter around. And you’re also supporting neighbours and friends, because it’s all made in Calgary.
But if you’re yearning for the grass-fed, organic, bright green Jersey butter that is making its way across Canada from the butter hub that Eastern Canada is becoming, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The bitter truth about local craft butter is… there really aren’t many to choose from. For a variety of reasons and an industry bogged down by regulations, butter that goes from farm to fresh-baked-bread is almost impossible to find. But does that mean you can’t have outstanding local butter? Not at all.
You can still support small local businesses and have exceptional fresh butter to slather on whatever your heart desires (since recent research shows that the vitamin E found in butter actually supports heart health, and acts as an antioxidant to protect your cells). You’ll have to put in a bit more work, but in this day and age when so many people are becoming more mindful about the food they put in their bodies, from fermenting kombucha on your counter to nurturing Clementine (your sourdough starter) and everything in between, whipping up a batch of your own butter is about as easy as it gets. All you need are a few things: high quality local cream, a whipping/shaking/churning vessel, and cheesecloth.
Hit up your local farmers’ market or organic food store to source top-notch dairy. Then, simply choose your ‘churn’. A stand mixer is probably the easiest method since you pour, cover, whip, and wait, which takes mere minutes for the butter solids and buttermilk to begin to separate. You can even make butter in a mason jar, although it will take some serious shaking. Then you just drain the buttermilk off, rinse butter in ice-cold water until the water runs clear, and use the cheesecloth to squeeze out all the excess water.
Adding salt is highly recommended, but at this point, you can go wild. Try adding fresh chopped herbs, chili flakes, truffle, garlic, or honey and cinnamon for a sweet option. For a unique addition, try tonka bean, that imparts an aromatic Amaretto-style flavour without being sweet.
As you may have gathered, the options really are endless. Don’t let a dearth of local options thwart your pursuit of perfect butter, just take matters into your own hands and get churning.