Now that we’re into the second week of No Meat March, we’ve heard at least three times, “Oh, I could never give up dairy.” Sure you could. There are lots of good reasons that make it a pretty easy choice (scroll to the end for some of them) but this post is about food…and that you need not give up your baked goods, morning toast with butter and jam, or any other buttery morsel you crave.
Of course, there are conventional non-dairy margarines out there, but they tend to be full of chemicals that really don’t belong in a body. There is also a very popular “vegan” margarine, but it’s made with palm oil. That’s a problem – for ethical vegans and for environmental reasons – that you can read more about here.
So what’s the answer for those aiming for a plant-based diet? Buttah! Or futter or faux fat—whatever you want to call it. It’s a recipe that’s been going around the interwebs for a while now. We modified the one found on Vegangster, who modified it from one on VeganBaking.
Anyhoo, we actually started with Vegangster’s simpler Futter recipe. It’s a faster, cheaper, simpler vegan margarine. Don’t be scared; it looks like a lot of ingredients.
It turns out great if you want faster, cheaper and simpler and are okay with a somewhat more translucent product that resembles tub margarine.
Well, it turns out great if you actually follow the instructions. We broke our own rule of first-time recipe following and topped off the refined coconut oil that we didn’t have enough of with unrefined. Note to those not familiar with coconut oil: unrefined tastes like coconut; refined doesn’t. It looks great.
It spreads like a margarine dream.
But since we’re not huge fans of the flavor of coconut, it’s hanging out in the freezer waiting for us to bake something that’s supposed to taste like coconut. However, if you like coconut toast, by all means use unrefined oil!
The more complex recipe uses a few more ingredients. It’s also a little more expensive than the recipe above, but it is absolutely worth it.
Vegangster also recommends a food processor for the operation. We found, though, that the powdered ingredients and lecithin sat just below the food processor blade and didn’t get blended in as well as we would have liked. We got better buttah with a blender the second time around. (Ah, alliteration, how we love thee.)
Also, the coconut oil amount is given in cups and tablespoons with the instruction to “warm the coconut oil in the container.” Not knowing how much oil that comes out to be could lead to confusion and unnecessary mess. The amount of coconut oil called for equals about 14 ounces, which is the size jar many brands come in. So just remove the lid from the jar, put it in a pan of hot water and stir the oil until it melts. If your water’s not hot enough, put the pan on a low burner. But only warm the oil as much as it takes to mostly melt it, then take it off the burner and let the residual heat melt the rest.
We had heard from someone who had already tried the recipe that the lecithin granules didn’t dissolve well and affected the quality of the finished product. We also didn’t really want to use soy, so we took the VeganBaking suggestion of using liquid sunflower lecithin. Just substitute 1/2 tablespoon plus 1 1/4 teaspoon of liquid lecithin for the granules in the Vegangster recipe.
Again, the little bit of extra effort and cost involved in making this second version of the margarine is worth it, in our opinion. The first recipe is okay, but this one looks, tastes and acts more like real butter. Perhaps you can see that it’s denser and looks more opaque and creamy rather than oily.
Put it in a four-cup glass container (or two smaller containers) and use it like tub margarine, or put it in large ice cube molds to form it into sticks. That way each stick is premeasured, which makes for baking convenience.
Or, especially if the extra effort is an issue, make a double recipe and do both. Keep the excess in the freezer and you won’t have to make any more for a long, long, long time.
Unless you have a house full of butter-crazed vegans who will use a whole two-ounce stick up within a few days, do keep it in the fridge. This is real food – in the sense that it’s not full of chemicals and preservatives – so spoilage is a possibility.
When it comes to comparing products, The Organic Adventurer always does a cost analysis (an option also available in our consultations). It pays to save money where you can, and if you choose to spend more money on something, it’s nice to know that you did it consciously and because it mattered to you. So that commercially available margarine we were talking about – the one that’s so popular with vegans and contains palm oil – costs about $4.09, depending on where you buy it and whether or not you can find it on sale, for 15 ounces. That’s about 27 cents per ounce. The second version of margarine, the buttah, that we made ourselves cost $11.07. That’s about 35 cents per ounce. Keep in mind, though, that we used a lot of organic ingredients, including the two most expensive items, the coconut oil and the lecithin. You can find much cheaper lecithins, for example, that aren’t organic, may be from genetically modified plants or may have been processed using neurotoxic solvents like hexane, but we felt the expense was worth it. Besides, you could think of this fat as a nonessential luxury item and treat it as such—a little goes a long way.
And since we absolutely cannot leave you with that last, sad picture, here’s one of something yummy we made with our new buttah (not that stick…a fresh one). If you haven’t yet, sign up for No Meat March (no, it’s not too late) and bake on!
A few brief and general reasons not to consume dairy:
– Environment: Livestock, including dairy cows, produce more greenhouse gas than all of the transportation sector combined.
– Health: Animal protein, including the casein in milk, is a fantastic cancer growth promoter, not to mention all of the antibiotics and hormones the cows are pumped full of.
– Ethics: Factory farmed dairy cattle are unnaturally confined, subject to abuse and forcefully impregnated, only to have their young torn from them and abused for the veal market.
Please contact us if you would like more information. Consultations are available to help you transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet, avoid GMOs, determine what organic foods you should buy and why, and much more.