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What happened to Canadian butter?


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Has anyone else commented about this on eGullet? Several articles on how Canadian butter seems to have changed lately. It's harder, less melty. I agree. Not pleasant, it seems waxy or something and even the taste is a bit off. May be due to use of palm oil in feed. What do other Canadians think? Is this happening in other regions, other countries? Some say this isn't just happening in Canada.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56175784

 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/article-is-your-butter-not-as-soft-as-it-used-to-be-the-pandemic-and-our-urge/

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so i read this when it first blew up on twitter and i'm skeptical. i'm not suggesting that the reporter didn't do what they thought was correct, but the actual evidence that this is why is pretty scant. also, in many areas, this happened quite some time ago, long before the pandemic. 

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I use more butter than most, ie I get a bit stressed when I have fewer than 10 pounds in the freezer. Can't say I've noticed a difference.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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I haven't noticed any difference in the taste of my butter.  Also, it spreads as it always did and I have no trouble melting it.

Edited by ElsieD
Fixed a r (log)
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Can't comment as it is a running joke in our household that we keep the temperature so low that butter on the counter is never soft enough to spread. Having said that, I have often thought lately that butter (Dairyland is the brand I usually buy for everyday) doesn't taste as "buttery" as it used to.

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29 minutes ago, chromedome said:

I use more butter than most, ie I get a bit stressed when I have fewer than 10 pounds in the freezer. Can't say I've noticed a difference.

we’re clearly brothers

 

3 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

I haven't noticed any difference in the taste of my butter.  Also, it spread as it always did and I have no trouble melting it.

yeah same here. now not every farm is doing this but at the same time i legitimately wonder how much of this is people keeping their kitchens cooler because it’s winter in canada 

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6 minutes ago, jimb0 said:

we’re clearly brothers

 

yeah same here. now not every farm is doing this but at the same time i legitimately wonder how much of this is people keeping their kitchens cooler because it’s winter in canada 

...or just cabin fever, as we creep into Year Two of COVID.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Well, thanks for assuming that I'm a complete fool who just imagines things 🙂 ,but I think there has been a change. I noticed it some months back but thought it was because my husband was doing more of the grocery shopping and brought home a couple of brands I wouldn't have purchased. One was Walmart's Value brand and maybe it's good at times or to other people but I thought it was pretty awful. It seemed waxy, hard and with an off-taste. But I thought maybe it's just a not-great product. But I've tried Lactantia and Dairyland (as has the new poster here whose post isn't fully visible yet) and they are brands I used to think were pretty decent and now they act and taste different. They are similar to the Value Brand which, as I said, did not taste very good to me and had a weird texture. 

 

My husband hates me grocery shopping these days because I'm a real browser and spend too long in food stores during these pandemic times, but I'm going to try and get some other brands and some organic and see if I notice a difference. 

 

Which brands are you folks using? And I think you are mostly central or eastern Canada? Wonder if this varies in different provinces? I honestly don't know where some of the butter sold here is actually made, though maybe I should. 

 

Edited by FauxPas (log)
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Not assuming you're a fool. There have been many times I've questioned and second-guessed my own judgement, and that was pretty much how I read your OP/call for second opinions.

I'm on the other coast, and I basically buy what's on sale. When Lactantia's on for a good price I load up on that, because I consider it to be pretty good. Otherwise I buy a lot of the yellow-label Loblaw's butter, because most weekends Shopper's has it on for a good price; ADL or Dairy Isle, a PEI brand; Atlantic, and occasionally Scotsburn or other brands if they happen to be on at a good sale or special-purchase price. ADL/Dairy Isle is probably the best of them aside from Lactantia.

I also sometimes buy the butter from a local family-owned dairy in Sussex, but not often since my farmer's market days (a vendor often brought it to market).

 

Aside from Lactantia and the supermarket house brands I don't think any of them would be available where you are, and I suspect (but don't know) that those are produced regionally so I doubt they're the same as what I buy.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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3 minutes ago, chromedome said:

Not assuming you're a fool. There have been many times I've questioned and second-guessed my own judgement, and that was pretty much how I read your OP/call for second opinions.

 

That is what I wanted and I did include a smilie emoji to soften my comment. 😀

 

But do you think this guy is completely off-base? He is some kind of food researcher. 

 

For food researcher Sylvain Charlebois, suspicion began last year when he noticed differences in comparing an organic stick of butter with a regular one.

"Is it me or is #butter much harder now at room temperature?" Charlebois, the senior director of Dalhousie University's Agri-Food Analytics Lab, tweeted in December.

While he says that more testing is needed, Charlebois, who dubbed the saga "buttergate," is convinced that an increased use in palmitic acid — a byproduct of palm oil that's commonly added to cow feed — is the most likely culprit.

https://www.npr.org/2021/02/24/971018428/baffled-canadians-spread-reports-of-hard-butter

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I use Lanctantia, and I only use unsalted butter.  I am not unlike @chromedome in making sure my freezer is stocked with butter.  My panic level is about 6 pounds but that is because Lanctantia doesn't go on sale very often.  I don't like paying $6 to $7 dollars for a pound of butter so I generally stock up when it goes on sale for $2.99.  But, my stash was running low recently and I stocked up with some Selection brand butter, sold by Metro.  I haven't used it yet but I will pull out a pound to see how it compares and will post my reaction.  I have never purchased Walmart's butter so can't comment on that.

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i use store brand butter almost exclusively. paying $7 for butter just. christ. definitely never seen lactantia go for $3; i’d stock up too. 

 

nobody said op was a fool but i am still skeptical even if a food researcher has a gut feeling about something without actual science to back it up. in part because as other researchers have noted, this addition of palm to cattle feed is not new. 

 

this isn’t to say that any of these people are wrong, just that it’s impossible to know without actual testing, and convincing a bunch of people on twitter of anything isn’t that hard.  

 

from what i understand it’s more common in alberta herds than in places east. 

 

i also only use salted butter. i use it for everything. salted butter supremacy!!!

Edited by jimb0 (log)
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4 hours ago, FauxPas said:

Has anyone else commented about this on eGullet? Several articles on how Canadian butter seems to have changed lately. It's harder, less melty. I agree. Not pleasant, it seems waxy or something and even the taste is a bit off. May be due to use of palm oil in feed. What do other Canadians think? Is this happening in other regions, other countries? Some say this isn't just happening in Canada.

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56175784

 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/article-is-your-butter-not-as-soft-as-it-used-to-be-the-pandemic-and-our-urge/

Well there’s certainly some concern being expressed. Here.

 

“Dairy Farmers of Canada also announced on Feb. 19 that it is putting together a working group to study the issue of "fat supplementation in the dairy sector."

The group will include producers, processors, the Consumers Association of Canada, veterinary nutritionists and animal scientists.”

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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i agree with the guelph prof that this is all pretty sensationalist. but one insightful comment that i saw someone make is that the dairy groups are likely to pay attention to this because it's not people demonizing the product, it's like, butter aficionados who are doing the complaining and thus a group that is relevant to their bottom line. 

 

i think if someone is that concerned about the cow's diet for butter quality, i'd be looking at the pricey grass-fed cow butter. it's going to have more of the pigment/fatty acid profile that you'd want, i assume. 

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14 hours ago, FauxPas said:

Which brands are you folks using?

 

Non-Canadian here (we learned how to capitalize in grade school!)...I'm a fan of, and religiously use Le Beurre Bordier.

 

It costs a ton, but not that much per schmear. For baking, I often go to Cabot Creamery or Land o'Lakes...are either of those available, cause they're pretty good even for schmearing.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Canadian here.  I bought Isigny Sainte Mère butter once and loved it.  I still have the little jar it came in.  It was expensive but so good.  I went to get more and they didn't have any.   I was told that import fees on butter were so high no one would pay the price.  That one store is the only place I have seen imported butter.  We do not get Cabot Creamery or Land o' Lakes either.  Supply management and all that.

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I used to get both when I lived near the border, and was able to run across to Calais regularly. Both were good (I'd liken them to Lactantia) but when a) I moved farther from the border; and b) butter started going on sale regularly for deeper discounts up here, it wasn't really worth it.

Also, and I know some here have the opposite preference, I detest the "stick" format of individually wrapped quarter-pounds. I suppose it's a question of what one becomes used to, but I always hated farting around with the extra packaging.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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2 hours ago, weinoo said:

 (we learned how to capitalize in grade school!)

image.gif.27c568013a6780411d9c0cf1f31493f8.gif

 

33 minutes ago, chromedome said:

Also, and I know some here have the opposite preference, I detest the "stick" format of individually wrapped quarter-pounds. I suppose it's a question of what one becomes used to, but I always hated farting around with the extra packaging.

 

haha that’s definitely one of the things i hated about moving here. stick butter is so much easier to measure out for me. definitely don’t care enough to pay practically double for it, though. 

 

as for costs, have any of you just made your own butter? honestly i don’t think buying fancy butter does much for baking or cooking generally at all, which isn’t surprising. i don’t think it even does much for lifting croissants, personally. 

 

i do like a cultured butter for eating, though. it’s very easy to make your own butter. we did it occasionally in when i was young when we’d get rotate a dairy cow onto our farm. 

 

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1 hour ago, jimb0 said:

as for costs, have any of you just made your own butter?

 

I've done it in cooking classes and with the grandkids, but given the relative prices of heavy cream and butter (at least where I live) there's little incentive to do so. Simple math says I'd get roughly 350 g of butter from my liter of heavy cream at 35% fat (assuming I get it all, which is dubious in real-world terms), and that cream sells for $6.49-$6.99 where I live unless it's on sale, which is rare. Butter goes on most weekends for $2.99-$3.49/lb, so I can get 2 lbs already made for the cost of my +/-350 g made fresh from cream.

 

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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46 minutes ago, chromedome said:

I've done it in cooking classes and with the grandkids, but given the relative prices of heavy cream and butter (at least where I live) there's little incentive to do so. Simple math says I'd get roughly 350 g of butter from my liter of heavy cream at 35% fat (assuming I get it all, which is dubious in real-world terms), and that cream sells for $6.49-$6.99 where I live unless it's on sale, which is rare. Butter goes on most weekends for $2.99-$3.49/lb, so I can get 2 lbs already made for the cost of my +/-350 g made fresh from cream.

 

for sure. i think i was unclear, though. 

 

my point was mostly that i think it’s worth it for eating butter - like a glob that you spread on bread or put on top of something. i don’t think fancy butter is worth the cost for cooking or baking. i don’t use thaaaaat much butter on bread, say. 

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2 hours ago, chromedome said:

I used to get both when I lived near the border, and was able to run across to Calais regularly. Both were good (I'd liken them to Lactantia) but when a) I moved farther from the border; and b) butter started going on sale regularly for deeper discounts up here, it wasn't really worth it.

Also, and I know some here have the opposite preference, I detest the "stick" format of individually wrapped quarter-pounds. I suppose it's a question of what one becomes used to, but I always hated farting around with the extra packaging.

Conversely, there's the farting around with having to rewrap the remaining 250 or 300 or 400 grams or whatever amount your recipe leaves you, when all you've got is a 500g brick.

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47 minutes ago, chromedome said:

I've done it in cooking classes and with the grandkids, but given the relative prices of heavy cream and butter (at least where I live) there's little incentive to do so. Simple math says I'd get roughly 350 g of butter from my liter of heavy cream at 35% fat (assuming I get it all, which is dubious in real-world terms), and that cream sells for $6.49-$6.99 where I live unless it's on sale, which is rare. Butter goes on most weekends for $2.99-$3.49/lb, so I can get 2 lbs already made for the cost of my +/-350 g made fresh from cream.

 

 

Yup.  I looked into this once also, and in monetary terms, it just wasn't worth it.

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29 minutes ago, weinoo said:

Conversely, there's the farting around with having to rewrap the remaining 250 or 300 or 400 grams or whatever amount your recipe leaves you, when all you've got is a 500g brick.

 

Well, it's a 454 g brick, aka a pound by any other name, though that's not the point. :)

Pull back the foil, cut off your piece, fold back the foil...just as one does with cream cheese and many other things. Not a big deal. Though as I said above, it's basically down to personal preference and what you're used to.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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