Aka: Not all food is created equal
We did a little experiment a few weeks ago around butter. After all, butter is butter, right? Does the higher priced stuff really make any difference?
Since we were at the grocery store (yes, we actually have had to make a few stops to the grocers lately!) we bought three kind of butter:
Land O' Lakes spreadable with canola oil - advertises itself as lower calorie
Kate's Farm Made in Maine butter - made with no hormones and pasteurized cream
Truly Butter - made in Ireland using pasteurized milk from grass fed cows
Pricing was not as different as I would have expected. The Truly and the Kate's butter were both $3.49 for an 8oz tub and Land O' Lakes (with canola oil) was $2.99 for the same size. We are usually a Kate's household, and the pound boxes are less expensive, but we wanted a fair comparison between the three.
Opening them, there were some stunning differences in color and texture, which we didn't expect.
The Land O' Lakes butter with the added oil was much more spreadable - which we did expect. What we didn't realize was that it also resulted in it melting a lot faster. Literally, by the time our meal was over, the whole thing was a half-melted, butter-and-oil separated mess.
Both the Truly and the Kate's were harder that expected and tougher to spread on toast. Somehow I always assume butter than comes in tubs will be easier, but the last of additives and water really makes a difference in the consistency. However, both tubs maintained their shape nicely even sitting out on the counter while we ate.
The true surprise though was in the color:
Land O Lakes is on the right in this picture and was a pale almost-white color. Kate's was in the center, and while close to the LoL spread did have a little more yellow coloring. The Truly was the big shock. I have never seen butter so yellow! According to their ingredients, there is no dye in their butter, meaning this is pure, natural coloring.
As a side note, I have made butter at home from raw cows milk. I'm rarely patient enough to churn it as long as I should, and the milk used is not completely grass fed, but mine tends to result in a softer version of the Kate's butter that doesn't last as long and requires consistent refrigeration.
I find myself wondering what would happen if I could find some grass-fed cow's milk! Would mine be that lovely shade of yellow?
On to the taste test.
I managed to rope in a number of people during board game night. None of them knew what was up, other than my request that they eat a lot of toast. Each participant ate three slices, one for each butter. The bread was Killer Dave's thin-sliced white, with the exception of one taster who was gluten intolerant and used her own bread. All three butters were allowed to soften slightly for easier spreading.
The Truly was hands-down the winner. It was described as "much creamier" and "almost cheese-like." People complimented the taste, texture and even the way it melted into the bread.
Kate's was - for the most part - the secondary winner. With one exception, people enjoyed the taste but there was no raving about it the way there was with the Truly. The major differences for most seemed to be that it didn't melt into the bread as well and wasn't as creamy. Still, most participants stated it was very good butter.
Land O' Lakes came in last, hands down. Even the small child (8 y.o.) who participated - and who had never had anything but "regular" butter wrinkled his nose. The exception was one participant who prefer it's over the Kate's because the Kate's hadn't melted into his toast well (the bread cooled fast) and he found the texture off-putting. I actually had expected LoL to perform better, if only because people tend to prefer what they are used to. Surprise to me!
Just goes to show you, not all food is created equal - even when it comes to butter!