Butter is a common household item that many of us probably do not even pay much attention to in our day-to-day lives. However, the moment we run out of it, it can be a big problem.
Whether you enjoy a buttery toast every morning or need it for making a sauce or even baking, the moment you run out of butter feels like the world is ending.
But what if you can stock up with butter by freezing it? Can you freeze butter, and more importantly, should you freeze butter?
If you want to find out all about butter, as well as what you should and should not do with it, keep reading! We will cover what butter actually is, how healthy it is, what it can be used for, and if you can freeze it.
What Is Butter?
Butter is a delicious fat that is made by churning cream or milk. It is a whitish-yellow color and has a creamy texture and rich taste.
While most butter comes from cows, it is also frequently made from goat, sheep, bison and yak milk. However, there is also vegan or plant based butter, which has grown in popularity over the years.
This butter is made from entirely different ingredients and uses no animal products.
Vegan butter is made using water and a plant-derived oil. Popular oils for this butter include coconut, avocado, palm kernel, and olive oils, though a mixture of oils is often used.
In addition to the water and oils, vegan butter also includes other additional ingredients like emulsifiers, coloring, salt, and both natural and artificial flavors.
All these extra ingredients help the product taste and feel more like regular butter.
Margarine is different to butter. This product is made using vegetable oils and is typically labeled as a vegetable oil spread, or something similar.
Margarine is frequently used as a butter alternative for helping people improve their cholesterol levels.
Butter, Nutrition, And Health
Butter has been blamed for the rise in heart disease over the years due to the high saturated fat content, but more recently new information has been published. Butter – in moderation – may be healthy for you.
This product is made from one ingredient – milk, and is simply churned until the milk fat (butter) comes together and is separated from the buttermilk.
As the process for making butter is universal, we will not be looking at any specific brand of butter.
Below are the nutritional facts for one tablespoon (14 grams) of cow’s milk butter.
- Total calories – 102<
- Total water – 16%
- Total sugar – 0.01g
- Total carbohydrates – 0.01g
- Total protein – 0.12g
- Total fiber – 0g
- Total fat – 11.52g
- Monounsaturated fat – 2.99g
- Polyunsaturated fat – 0.43g
- Trans fats – 0.47g
- Saturated fat – 7.29g
Plant based butters are high in fat and calories due to the ingredients it is made of.
The amount of fat in these butters can vary depending on what oils and additives are in the product, but as an example, we will be looking at the nutrition of Earth Balance.
Earth Balance is one of the most popular vegan butter brands. We will be looking at the nutritional facts of one tablespoon of Earth Balance’s Vegan Buttery Sticks, which equates to 14 grams.
- Total calories – 100
- Total cholesterol – 0 mg
- Total sodium – 120 mg
- Total fat – 11 g
- Monounsaturated fat – 5 g
- Saturated fat – 3.5 g
- Polyunsaturated fat – 2.5 g
While there are big differences between the two, both have their risks and benefits. Cow’s butter is higher in saturated fats, but does not contain additives like salt, flavoring, and coloring.
On the other hand, vegan butter is highly processed and contains unnatural ingredients, but is lower in saturated fats and high in monounsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fats are considered to be good fats as they have been linked to benefits for blood sugar control, heart health, and body weight.
Vegan alternatives are popular as they are seen to be more environmentally friendly, but choosing which butter you consume is a personal choice, as long as you are aware of the risks and benefits to them.
What Can Butter Be Used For?
Butter, whether it is an animal product or vegan, can be used for many things. Baking involves the use of butter, as does a lot of cooking.
Its rich flavor is what makes it so popular, since it compliments so many other ingredients so well.
Salted butter, which is butter that has a small amount of salt added to it, has a mildly different flavor to unsalted. However, they can be used for the same things, unless recipes expressly state otherwise.
As a general rule, most baking recipes will call for unsalted butter, as salt is known to toughen gluten which is present in the flour.
Butter in all forms is great, bow how do you store it? Some people like to store butter in the refrigerator, while others prefer leaving it out on the counter.
So, you might be wondering which one is best, and which one could potentially be hazardous.
I have good news for you – both are fine! Storing butter in the refrigerator is thought to help the butter keep its quality, but it will keep well.
Butter that is left out on the countertop or in a pantry will keep, too, as long as it is in an airtight container and is kept away from sunlight.
How and where you store your butter could come down to several reasons, but the most popular one is the texture of butter.
Butter that is left out on the countertop will be softer and can be spread a lot easier than the one kept in the refrigerator.
We’ve all been there when we have a slice of toast and end up ripping it apart because the butter was too hard, and no one wants to experience it again.
If, however, you are not a butter-on-toast kind of person and only use it for cooking or baking, chances are you store it in the fridge.
There is always the option of taking butter out an hour or so before you have to use it, but everyone has forgotten to do that at some point.
To get the best of both worlds, you can store your butter both ways. If you plan on using butter throughout your week for things like toast, keep some out on the counter.
You can store the rest of it away in the refrigerator to ensure that it keeps its quality.
There is a third option, however, and one that many people do not often think of. What about freezing your butter?
Can You Freeze Butter?
You can, and probably should, freeze your butter. At least when you bulk buy, anyway.
Freezing butter will help it keep, and although frozen food can technically be kept indefinitely according to the USDA, consuming it within a year is recommended.
This is because the longer any food sits in the freezer, the worse its quality gets.
This does not mean that it becomes unsafe to eat, simply that it may not have the same flavor, texture, or color that it did when it was fresh.
Because of this, frozen butter should not stay in the freezer for too long.
You may be wondering how to freeze butter now that you know that it is safe.
Freezing it is simple, really – you can keep the butter in its original container and place it in a resealable or Ziploc freezer bag, and put it in. There are no special steps that need to be taken when freezing butter.
The only reason the butter container is placed in the bag is so that the delicate flavor is protected while the product stays frozen.
How To Thaw Butter
Thawing butter is simple, too. You can simply take it out of the freezer and leave it on the countertop overnight to defrost, or you can get more involved.
If you are pressed for time, you can place the frozen butter in a microwave and defrost it using 10-second intervals until it is the desired softness.
If you need melted butter for a recipe, you can just melt it from frozen without any thawing in between.
Butter can also be thawed super quickly if you grate it, so next time you are in a rush to get your butter softened, simply grate it and let it sit for a few minutes. After a few minutes, it should be soft enough to use.
Butter is amazing – smooth, rich, and creamy. It is used for so many things in our daily lives that sometimes we don’t fully appreciate it.
If you are the kind of person who has found themselves abruptly running out of butter on more than one occasion, you might want to consider bulk buying some and freezing it.
Now that you know that it is safe and so easy to freeze your butter, what is stopping you from doing it? If you are feeling adventurous, why not try making your own butter and then freezing it?