Week 5: Butter
12 lbs of Butter, Margarine or Shortening
After this week, you should have 12 lbs of Butter, Margarine, or Shortening stored. This is the program goal. This is the only week we address Butter, Margarine, and Shortening.
Some people aren’t big on baking or cooking and therefore probably don’t go through this much butter and shortening, but for those of you who like to bake or cook and would like to continue to bake or cook in an emergency, you’ll want to remember to get shortening for your food storage. The 2 frequently overlooked items are shortening/butter/margarine and eggs. This will ensure there are plenty of opportunities for “goodies”, such as cookies, pies, puddings, etc. These are called comfort foods and you need all the comfort you can get during emergencies or stressful situations. You decide on how much of what you want to store, but try to get a combined total of about 12 lbs.
Butter vs. Margarine vs. Shortening
Butter is a pretty natural ingredient being made up of cream, milk solids, and water. Non-homogenized milk separates with the fattiest portion rising to the top and the low-fat liquid sinking to the bottom. The fattiest portion that has risen is the cream used to make butter. Butter in America is 80% to 81% butterfat, up to 16% water, and the rest is milk solids. The high water content in butter steams while baking and can increase gluten production which can result in a crispier cookie or flakier pie crust and biscuit. Butter in Europe has a higher butterfat percentage, ranging from 82% to 88% (now I know why everyone wants me to bring butter back from Paris). Because butter is made from animal fat, it is high in saturated fat and cholesterol. However, butter does contain vitamins A, D, E, and K. Pretty much the only preservative in butter is salt, which is why many prefer unsalted butter. Plus, salted butter can throw off the taste of your recipes. However, butter is expensive. Also, because butter melts so easily, it can be difficult to work with.
Margarine contains natural plant and seed oils, so it contains unsaturated "good" fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). These types of fats help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the "bad" cholesterol when substituted for saturated fat. Depending on the recipe, margarine may also have vitamins A and D. So margarine usually tops butter when it comes to heart health. But not all margarines are created equal. Some margarines contain trans fat. Trans fat, like saturated fat, increases blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. In addition, trans fat lowers high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or the "good" cholesterol levels. In general, the more solid the margarine, the more trans fat it contains. So since stick margarines usually have more trans fat than tub margarines, skip the stick and opt for soft or liquid margarine instead. Better yet, look for a spread that doesn't have any trans fat and has the least amount of saturated fat. Compare the Nutrition Facts panel looking in particular at saturated fat and trans fat.
Shortening is a fat that is solid at room temperature and typically made from vegetable oils. Shortening used to be made in a process that resulted in a lot of trans fat. But most manufacturers have since transitioned to a manufacturing process that all but eliminates trans fat to a very minimal amount. Shortening also has a much higher melting point than butter. Because there is no water in shortening, you do not have to worry about it steaming out and creating that increased gluten production. Shortening is a much cheaper and more shelf stable substitute for butter/margarine. However, shortening is not a natural product and doesn’t have the taste that butter has.
Shortening Powder is a great alternative which stores for a very long time. Just blend with water to produce shortening for baked goods. DO NOT USE FOR FRYING.
Butter and margarine should both be stored in a refrigerator or freezer. Butter has a shelf life of 1-2 months in a refrigerator and 9 months in a freezer. Margarine has a longer shelf life, generally around 4-5 months in a refrigerator and up to 12 months in a freezer. Shortening does not need to be refrigerated, and according to Crisco, if unopened, its shelf life is indefinite. Once it’s opened, they say it’s good for about a year. However, shortening powder, by virtue of being a powder, will last a lot longer, even if opened.
With all of this in mind, always purchase according to the needs of your family.