Remember when we used to be told that butter was bad what with all the saturated fat, and that we should instead use margarine? Then it was avoid margarine because of the trans fat. Now many margarines are advertised as not containing trans fats (although there are tricky labeling laws that allow them to say they have no trans fat as long as it’s under a certain amount, so no trans fat doesn’t actually have to mean no trans fat). And let’s face it, even without the transfat, margarine is made of a whole big scary list of unpronouncable ingredients.
I’ve actually been using real butter rather than margarine for most uses a long time now. It ends up costing a little more, but is tastier, and even before the push to be less processed, I recognized this stuff was far too fake to be good for you. The exception for butter though was that we usually kept a small tub of margarine around to use for spreadable purposes – pancakes, toast, grilled sandwiches. We didn’t use a lot of it (maybe a small tub every six months) but it was still there.
Now that I’m really focusing on getting rid of unnatural processed foods, I wanted to get rid of this little tub. The most obvious option would probably be to just get a stick of butter out a bit before needing it so it could soften up a bit, or do as many people do and leave a stick out in a butter dish. I don’t really like the idea of leaving the butter out, and I never think far enough ahead to take it out of the fridge early. I suppose I could play around with the microwave and see if there’s some magic time to heat it up where it gets soft but doesn’t turn to melted butter, but any attempts at this have had mixed results.
Land-o-Lakes makes a spreadable butter product that is actually pretty tasty – it has 3 ingredients, cream, canola oil and salt. I could probably be okay with this since at least they’re all recognizable ingredients. It’s a little pricey though, and since I do the bulk of my shopping at Aldi – I would need to make a special trip to the big grocery store to get it. So my solution is homemade spreadable butter.
I mix equal amounts softened butter and canola or olive oil (needs to be a mild olive oil so you don’t taste the oliveyness) and salt to taste. Then I use my hand mixer and whip it up until it’s nice and fluffy, and refrigerate it. Note of warning, use a big bowl since the oil will splash (I ruined a favorite shirt by using a bowl too small and getting all these little oil spots all over myself). And there you have tasty , minimally processed spreadable butter, for a fraction of the cost of the commercially available product and i can completely control the salt content as well as keep track of what oil I’m using (eventually I’m going to switch out my canola oil for a non-gmo, cold pressed variety – just have to use up the big bottle of the conventional stuff I still have).