Butter and Health
When cows are not primarily grain fed, their meat, milk and dairy products like butter has a more balanced omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids ratio. Dairy products from grass-fed cows are also a great source of the essential fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K in a form the body can readily assimilate.
If you're lucky enough to get unpasteurised raw butter or fermented raw butter then these will contain even more nutrients, enzymes etc, which would normally get destroyed by pasteurisation.
However, if you want to avoid animal products for health issues and/or ethical reasons then butter won't be for you. Whole food butters made from grinding up nuts and seeds like almond and sunflower is one option for a vegan butter or drizzling a little cold-pressed oils like virgin olive oil over foods.
Avoid buying vegan-butters/margarine-type spreads, which use highly refined oils and have been created with processes like chemical hydrogenation or inter-esterification. These types of spreads are inflammatory and damaging to health.
Creating Vegan Butter
To mimic butter in a vegan spread, you first need milk solids, fats/oils and water in the right ratios. It makes sense finding a recipe with the ratios already worked out and then tweaking it to taste and healthy requirements. I chose a recipe by Miyoko Schinner, an artisan vegan/vegetarian cook and food writer, which seemed straight forward and easy to do. The only change I made was an addition of around half a teaspoon of turmeric for colour, flavour and its active components like curcumin.
For this recipe I made a creamy homemade cashew milk made using 1 cup of pre-soaked cashews blended with 2 cups of water and then strained. I also used a deodorised organic coconut oil, which is neutral tasting however if you want the flavours of coconut to come through then by all means use virgin coconut oil.
In a previous experiment, I used avocado oil, which has the plus point of being predominantly monounsaturated and more stable than polyunsaturated oils. However I felt the avocado oil had a more pronounced flavour which came through in my vegan butter. I then thought about using macadamia nut oil, which is also predominantly monounsaturated and has a milder taste but I couldn't get hold of any for this experiment. So I have opted for unrefined cold pressed sunflower oil, which should create a more neutral-tasting butter.
Lecithin helps to mix the fats with the water components and the addition of apple cider and salt adds flavour to the butter.
You will need a blender to mix everything up properly.
1 cup refined coconut oil
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (Used cashew milk)
1/4 cup a mild tasting oil (Used sunflower oil, would have liked to use macadamia nut oil)
1.5 tsp lecithin granules or 2 tsp of liquid lecithin
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
- Melt the coconut oil and leave to cool down to room temperature
- Blend cashew milk with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Make sure that the salt is well blended to avoid salty spots forming in the butter.
- Add 1.5 teaspoon of lecithin granules and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric to the cashew milk mixture and give it a good blend.
- Next add 1 cup of coconut and 1/4 cup of sunflower oil to the mixture and blend until it is well mixed through.
- The creamy mixture is poured into a clean jar and left in the fridge to firm up.
Stir the butter up whilst it is partially hardened to ensure there is no settling of the turmeric.
If you don't want to use turmeric then leave it out or you could try a little carrot juice or saffron for colour and flavour.
I think it looks great and tastes fabulous too! A great recipe from Miyoko Schinner.
Try it out with your friends and family. A great way to introduce beneficial fats and oils into the diet.