Investigating the perplexing butter mystery

You may have noticed that The Western Producer has been following the simmering debate in this country over butter.

Winnipeg reporter Ed White has written a couple of stories (the most-recent is here) about whether butter has become harder and whether palm oil in dairy cow rations is to blame.

The hullabaloo is based largely on anecdotal evidence — in other words, lots of people saying their butter doesn’t get soft anymore, even when they leave it out of the fridge.

Lots of questions remain to be answered here, particularly when it comes to the role that palm oil might or might not be playing in this controversy.

However, I had a much more basic question when I first started reading about this issue — not everyone keeps their butter in the fridge?

I grew up in a home where butter was kept in a fridge, although my mother tells me we had a refrigerator with different temperature settings for the butter drawer, which was always kept at the warmest level for the most spreadable product.

I actually didn’t eat a lot of butter when I moved away from home, but since I’ve been married, we’ve kept our butter in the fridge.

Figuring it was now time to do some decidedly non-scientific polling, I conducted a quick survey at a recent staff meeting and found a two-two split between fridge and counter.

Another survey at a Saturday morning coffee klatch found one fridge, one counter and two doing both. That poll even unearthed a couple of folks who keep butter in the freezer if they find a good deal somewhere.

Now it was time to turn to the professionals — the home economists who write the TEAM Resources column found in our Farm Living section.

Sarah Galvin keeps her butter in the cupboard while Betty Ann Deobald usually keeps it in the fridge. Both of them also use the freezer for long-term storage.

I found a similar difference of opinion over whether butter is harder than it used to be. Most of the people I talked to at work and on virtual coffee row hadn’t noticed a difference, although one definitely had.

Both Sarah and Betty Ann said they had noticed a difference. Sarah is having difficulty creaming butter and sugar for cake recipes, while Betty Ann has noticed butter doesn’t get as soft, even when it sits on the counter.

As Ed said to me recently — “mysterious story.”

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