I was having lunch out at a Greek restaurant last weekend with a friend. We began talking about how some butters are healthier than others. She asked me what brands I buy and it inspired me to write this article.
I am a big fan of what is becoming more popularly referred to as “grass-fed,” “range-free” or “pasture-raised” animals when it comes to meats or products such as butter and eggs. I have seen these three terms, “grass-fed,” “range-free,” or “pasture-raised,” used interchangeably.
If you look at the labeling in the meat counter at Whole Foods Market or discuss this with the meat-counter butchers at other grocery stores who are beginning to carry more healthy products, you will see that they divide “grass-fed” from “grain-fed” meats.
Why is “grass-fed” healthier to eat than “grain-fed” animals? The animals that are “grass-fed” are healthier animals. “Grain-fed” animals are “generally malnourished, higher in unhealthy omega-6 fatty acids , and deficient in the more preferable omega-3 fatty acids,” according to the book, “The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation: A step-by-step, gene reprogramming action plan”
by Mark Sisson.
“Grass-fed” meat contains more of the healthy omega 3 oils. So, it’s not just fish that contains larger amounts of this healthy oil.
People who are gluten sensitive or gluten intolerant will prefer eating an animal that also does not eat gluten. I have found that I feel better on a gluten-free diet so I avoid eating an animal that was “grain-fed” as much as I can.
Well, it turns out that if you look closer, other products, like butter, are also labeled, “pasture-raised,” “grass-fed” or “range-free.” This butter is made from milk from cows that are “grass-fed.”
I have two favorite brands. One is “Organic Valley’s Salted Butter” (they also carry an unsalted version). I get it at Whole Foods. If you can’t find the butter in a store near you, they have a great tool on their site for you to find a farmer near you.
When we ran out one day, I went to the local Tom Thumb grocery store and was happy to find a European, Irish brand of butter, “Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter” that is butter made from milk from pasture-raised cows. At Tom Thumb grocery store it is more expensive than the “Organic Valley,” but the price is right at Whole Foods Market.
I found “Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter” at Whole Foods in the specialty section with the cheeses. It was less expensive at Whole Foods than my local Tom Thumb. When I make clarified butter with it, there is nearly no fat to skim off. It’s my new favorite butter!
Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter – Unsalted (8 ounce) can also be found on Amazon.com from this link.
Salted butter is a good choice unless you are going to “clarify” or remove the milk protein solids and liquids from the butter. Clarifying is good to do to help butter store longer and cook at higher temperatures. It’s also healthier without the milk solids (which is a fat) and milk liquid that may contain sugar.
Do not confused “clarified butter” with the term “ghee.” Clarified butter is melted less longer than ghee. Ghee is slightly browned. You may be more familiar with ghee being used in dishes from India.
It may help to use unsalted butter for clarified butter; otherwise the salts may be too concentrated after the butter is clarified, however, sometimes it is more difficult to find the unsalted version in stores and the salted version has worked fine for us with the Organic Valley brand (but it may be better to stick to the unsalted Kerrygold if you have a salt-restricted diet). Also, you will need to prepare a little more butter because part of it will be thrown out. A good rule of thumb is 1 ¼ cup for every 1 cup you will need.
To make clarified butter:
1) Melt the amount you want to use, cook, or store — over a low heat.
2) Watch it carefully as the white foam solids float to the top. Take a spoon and skim off all of these solids. Do not put down the drain. I throw it out in the trash.
3) Pour off all of the yellow butter and leave as much of the white liquids at the bottom.
A great site that I love for learning more about cooking is “allrecipes.com.” If you need more illustrations and help creating clarified butter, visit their article, “How to Clarify Butter.”
Clarified butter is healthier for you without the unneeded fat and milk liquids. Regular butter burns at 250° whereas clarified butter can withstand temperatures as high as 400° so is more suited for cooking.
Clarified butter does seem to gather odors from other foods in the refrigerator so it is important to have a covered, air-tight container for the finished product. I most often use the two cup glass Pyrex dishes with rubber covers. I’ve read where others like to use mason jars. Clarified butter is harder in texture so is not good for spreads. I usually slightly melt it again to pour over pancakes, waffles or muffins (all-gluten free), or cooked vegetables and in a variety of recipes.
Please let us know in the comments if there are other “pasture-raised” butter brands you enjoy that all of us might benefit from.