Butter and Margarine

Why is this post about butter and margarine? Because while talking to my mom she mentioned my brother had made a recipe (which one I forget at the moment) that required a crumbly topping and his butter (really margarine) was not hard enough and did not crumble very well. Apparently the recipe came out okay, but not as good as it should have had the margarine been firmer.

I wasn’t really surprised. After all, I had recently switched from margarine to butter and in my experience the butter was firmer straight out of the fridge than my margarine ever was (for the stick and the spread). Granted, this was my experience with one particular brand of margarine (apparently the composition varies), but I figured the information was worth sharing. Besides, I needed to call my brother anyway to ask what size freezer he had since Andrew and I were considering purchasing one.

When he answered, I asked him about the freezer and then moved on to the butter. Apparently he typically puts the margarine in the freezer before using it like this but this time he pulled it straight from the fridge. I tried to explain to him my experience with butter versus margarine but he had to get off the phone before I could really say much about it. However, this got me thinking: how many people really think about butter and margarine, know what is in each, and know what they are buying?

For years I bought Blue Bonnet and Country Crock without thinking much of it. It was only when I made Carrot Walnut Scones for the first time a month or so ago that I sought out actual butter and was amazed to find that I had to search for it (at the United Supermarket I went to the many brands of margarine were located at waist height or lower whereas the butter was higher up and to the right) and check the ingredient list to be sure I had the right product. The ingredient list for butter was miles shorter (cream and salt) as opposed to margarine (one listed at least eleven different ingredients). Also, I knew what cream and salt were – I wasn’t so sure about some of the margarine ingredients that were used as emulsifiers or to preserve freshness.

What choice you make of course is yours. I’ve mentioned on my About Me page that my husband and I are trying to eat more organic and local and less highly processed foods, so choosing butter makes sense to me. With both butter and margarine demonized in the media and elsewhere, I might as well go with what I could make at home if I wanted to (and I might sometime just to say I have) and what I prefer in regards to texture and taste while limiting my intake. After all, both products should be consumed in moderation anyway.


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4 responses to “Butter and Margarine

  1. TM

    My aunt convinced me to switch to butter–even though it’s pricier, for things like buttering bread, you use less of it (better flavor than margarine). She also said it’s just one molecule shy of being plastic. Urban myth, perhaps, but frightening thought regardless. I don’t think I’ve both margarine in at least five years.

  2. I agree with you that it is easier to use less butter than margarine and have a better flavor. I think the plastics thing may be a myth, but I’ll stick with butter.

  3. Becky

    I use both, depending on the use. I cook with unsalted butter (mostly because I had a low-calorie recipe that called for it), but I use light margarine for table-use.

    I must say that over the last two years I have put more thought into my food choices than I had the first 22 years of my life, but I have not done it for the same reasons you are listing. I might have to start looking more carefully at labels 🙂

  4. my mom always uses margarine, but that’s because my family has dairy allergies. i just buy whatever the recipe calls for. i usually prefer unsalted butter for recipes. stan prefers country crock (i guess that’s what his mom uses? that’s usually how we get our food preferences – from our parents). i never thought about whether that was butter or margarine. i guess it’s margarine? it’s really easy to spread. hmmm… i need to go home and read some ingredients 🙂

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