Butter is Better

In early Spring the ancient Celts (the women actually) would take their cows up to high pasture on the mountains where fresh snow had just melted.  The first tendrils of spring would make their way through the melting snow as an offering to their way of life.  The cows would feed on these early spring greens, wild herbs and weeds.  Their milk was infused with the essence, vital nutrition, and trace minerals from these greens.  And, the women fed themselves with this life-giving milk (especially those that were to give birth or were of birthing age, as the vitamins in this milk ensure an easy child-birth and a healthy fetus).  They also fed their communities with this life-giving milk.

The tradition of grazing cows on mountain tops still happens in the mountains of Switzerland.  And, actually June is the month when the snow has melted enough for greens to start sprouting and flourishing.  The fresh spring greens are watered by melting glaciers packed with trace minerals.  And, isolated villages have subsisted on this fresh milk for centuries.  It is common for local pastors in the villages to reference the “Divinity in the life-giving qualities of butter made in June when the cows arrived for pasturage near the glaciers.”

Oddly enough, this divinity is hard to come by in the States.  And, it’s not because we lack glaciers as low-land, pastured cows produce a very high-quality butter, as well; rainwater will suffice, basically.  It’s simply hard to come by pastured raw milk cream in the United States.  Some states have more a more relaxed handling of raw milk, such as Maine or Vermont.  However, in Louisiana raw milk is illegal and in Georgia (my state of residence) one has to buy it for ‘pet consumption only.’  And, raw milk cream in Georgia is illegal!  You can get arrested for crossing the state line with cream bought in another state!!!

To me, this is absurd.  Especially when reviewing the nutritional profile of pastured, raw milk butter.  Pastured raw milk butter is the highest in Vitamin A, D and K2.  These fat-soluble vitamins are necessary building-blocks for the body. They are ‘activators’ and ‘catalyzers’ for a host of other vitamins and minerals (for proper conversion and assimilation of these nutrients by the body).  And, our ancestral cultures had many ways to secure these fat-soluble vitamins in our diet:  fish eggs, blubber, animal/fish organs, and as mentioned, butter.

I beg to ask, why is it easier to buy margarine (rancid transfat!) in a grocery store than the life-giving Divinity of butter?  I cease to be surprised by the ass-backwards nature of our country.  And, quality butter is yet another issue I have with this place.

The good thing, though is that you can find some butter made in Ireland at Trader Joe’s that is pastured — Kerrygold.  Also, in some stores, you can find the green foil wrapped Organic Valley spring milk butter (while they pasteurize their milk, I think it is low temp keeping good enzymes in the butter).  And, if you have a Jersey cow at home — good for you! — you can make butter from your own cream.  Unless, they make that illegal somewhere down the line as well.  (eyes squinting) — Grrrrrrr.

Lastly, if you are concerned about lactose.  You can also take unsalted pastured butter and clarify it over medium heat to make traditional Indian ghee.  The milk particles are taken out of the substance and you are left with beautiful butter oil — great to cook with as well!  The classical Ayurvedic practitioners (traditional Indian medicine) considered ghee as ‘sattvic‘ — which means that this food brings about harmony and balance in the body, a state of equanimity.

I’ve had butter on the brain because I now live in a rural area where pastured butter is impossible to find.  So, I’ve had to do it myself.  You would think it would be easy in a rural area, RIGHT!?  Wrong.  Like I mentioned before, it is nearly impossible to find pastured cream to make butter around here.  It feels more clandestine than marijuana!!!  Holy crap!  It’s cream, people!  However, people speak under their breath about cream and everything is weirdly hush-hush!  I’m waiting for a Creamery Speak-easy — anyone up for it?

My first attempt was with light pasteurized, non-homogenized milk from Mountain Fresh Creamery just 30 minutes from my door-step.  Because they light pasteurize their milk, they are legal.  Believe me people, these folks are doing a fine job and they are nice.  However, if you can see in this photo above that I took of my first batch, it is a pale, off-white.  This means that there is not a lot of Vitamin A and D in my butter…the very nutrients I need!  I can tell that their cows are grain-fed, which is problematic for me.  Also, I asked them about the breed of their cows and they said that they milk Holstein’s, whose over-breeding has led nutritionists and doctors to question the protein chains found in the fats of the milk.

For more information on the importance of high-quality butter, check out these two links:

Weston A Price on butter

Mark’s Daily Apple on butter

Ok, now look at this short video on a farmer making butter.  Look at the intense yellow of her beautiful butter!  This is actually the video that got me off my rump and into butter making.

Yesterday, I finally found a source for pastured Jersey cream.  Yes, I had to cross the state line!  So ridiculous.  Here’s the results!

cultured the cream overnight in a mason jar

blended it in a blender until the butter and buttermilk separated (here is the buttermilk)

poured ice water over butter in a straining cloth until no more (yellow!!!)

formed it into a beautiful yellow nugget and refrigerated it for a bit

enjoyed it on fresh piece of sourdough toast

The question I have is…  Why is it illegal to buy raw, pastured cream when it is SO good for you!?  Sure, the lobbyists will have plenty to say about cleanliness and bacteria and all the hoopla.  However, small farmers are hurt the worst by this…when it is big-ag that has all the recalls and bacterial problems!  Things need to change in communities so that nourishment like this is easy to get to one’s plate, home and family.

To me, the food sovereignty movement is a good beginning!  I also think the Weston A Price Foundation does a good job of educating people about proper food choices as well.

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