6.19.2009

taste test: canned butter

As I've mentioned before, my three-month supply menus are largely based on foods that I can store without refrigeration. This is my own choice and is NOT one of the recommendations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the most part, I've been able to find shelf-stable products based on the meals that we regularly eat. One chink in my plan is the difficulty of storing butter.

Butter is available for non-refrigerated storage in two forms: powdered butter and canned butter. [There have also been some instructions circulating on the internet on how to bottle your own butter, but I do not recommend this because of warnings about botulism from our local extension services. Click here to read more.] I've stored several cans of commercially canned butter as part of our three-month storage. So, today I figured it was time to taste-test this product and see if it is worth the money.

I opened a 12 oz. can of Red Feather Brand butter, which I purchased at a local grocery story for about $5. There are only two ingredients in these cans: cream and salt. My first impression was that it didn't really look like butter because of the grainy texture that was created as I released the lid. However, as I continued to work with the butter, the texture became smooth and looked more like real butter.

I tasted the butter right out of the can. The canned butter didn't seem to have much flavor, but I primarily use salted butter in my cooking. This is probably more similar to an unsalted butter.

Our first test was to make toast. My 11 and 13-year old boys were the guinea pigs. The canned butter spread on and melted similarly to regular butter. There might have be a slight increase in greasiness and I did miss that little bit of saltiness. But I would not hesitate to use the canned butter for toast. My boys liked it as well, even though they were not sure they wanted to try it.

My second test was to make our favorite chocolate-chip cookies using the canned butter. There are many foods that can use oil or butter interchangeably, but chocolate-chip cookies really need butter. I'll include the recipe at the bottom (because I know you'll ask).

First I creamed the butter and sugar. My dough was just slightly lighter in color and fluffier in texture than my normal dough.

I mixed in the rest of the ingredients and was already having to fight off my boys from snitching the cookie dough. The completed dough tasted great. It needed just a little extra salt to compensate for the "unsalted" canned butter.

The cookies turned out great. They seemed to brown faster on the edges and puffed a little extra at the end of the baking cycle. But after sitting for a few minutes, they looked like the cookies we all love. They did taste and look a little more greasy to me. And because I didn't add any salt to the dough, I was still wishing for more saltiness.

Summary: The canned butter performed like regular butter in pretty much every way. It didn't have much flavor and seemed a little greasier. I would probably decrease the butter in the recipe to compensate for this. I would recommend that you treat it like unsalted butter instead of regular salted butter.




Hershey's Great American Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 cups chocolate-chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy Add eggs; beat well. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Beat well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Remove from cookie sheet; cool completely on wire rack. About 2 dozen cookies. [from Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook]


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4 comments:

jenheadjen said...

So, that is my favorite choco-chip recipe - but mine don't come out looking half as good as yours! What kind of sheet are you using?

Thanks for the research! I was wondering how well it compared myself!

Wendy said...

I just use a standard stainless cookie-sheet. I also pull them out before they seem completely cooked. 8 minutes was actually too long with the second batch.

You're welcome and by the way, my husband thought there was just a slight aftertaste (assuming from the butter) in the cookies. I couldn't taste it. Everyone is gobbling them up, though. So apparently it isn't enough to make a difference.

Chris said...

Sounds like you have a winner. How long does the unopened butter last for. I know you have it in your three month rotation but does it keep longer?
Thanks

Wendy said...

Chris -

I cannot find a confirmed shelf-life. Some sources suggest that it will store indefinitely.