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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Eat Your Butter!

Spring is in full force now and I hope you are enjoying its delights, especially everything that is young, fresh and green, like fava beans, asparagus, green garlic, fennel and spring onions.   These shoots, sprouts and early fruits epitomize the season and support your body in unfurling from winter.  We forget that animal products have seasons, too.   Now is a wonderful time to eat dairy foods, as they are more nutritious than at other times of year because cows, sheep and goats are eating the fresh green grass of spring.   Spring butter is yellower than winter butter, reflecting its higher vitamin A content.  And when you eat your veggies with butter, you absorb the vitamins in the veggies more efficiently.

Butter, who doesn't like it? Vegans excepted. Now that the fat fallacy is coming to light, we can embrace the wonders of butter again and eat it without guilt.   I threw a book launch party for Real Food All Year this weekend and our kids' workshop was making cultured butter.   Everyone of every age dug into the golden dish with joy.  Making your own butter is so easy, it hardly needs a recipe, but the extra step of culturing increases its nutritional value, digestability, and gives you a healthy dose of probiotics to boot.  Butter-making is my new party trick. 

Cultured Butter
I first learned to make butter with Vanessa Barrington and her book DIY Delicious has very detailed directions and lots of ideas for how to use your butter.

1 teaspoon creme fraiche, buttermilk or live-culture yogurt
1 pint whipping cream
Sea salt to taste

First, culture your cream. Place 1 teaspoon of creme fraiche, buttermilk or yogurt in a 1 qt. Mason jar, add the whipping cream, and gently whisk to combine.   Cover and let culture at room temperature until thickened, 1-3 days.  When you are ready to make the butter, place a small fork or tea strainer into the jar and shake.  Shake the jar for 3-5 minutes until the yellow butter separates from the white buttermilk and begins to come together.  Pour the contents of the jar into a bowl and pour off the buttermilk, pressing with a rubber spatula to remove as much of the buttermilk as you can.   Rinse the butter a few times with cold water to remove all the buttermilk, pressing with the spatula as you go.  Work in sea salt to taste, or add other seasonings such as fresh herbs.  Eat at once or store refrigerated for no more than a few days.

ANNOUNCING: I'm heading to NYC next week for a few fun free book events: Fermentation demo and book signing at Bluestockings on Weds, May 23 at 7pm, seasonal nutrition class and signing at Samaya Education on Tues, May 29th at 7pm.  Check out book events, classes, reviews and such at the Facebook page for Real Food All Year.

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