The technology to create animal free alternatives are getting more advanced as time progresses. After human-made meat, scientists have created or developed butter-like spread mostly made from the good old H2O a.k.a water.
In the chemistry labs at Cornell University, scientists have been busy inventing a new product. Now, there are a lot of butter alternatives that are dairy-free and still creamy. However, the scientists’ new creation contains only a quarter of the calories as the real thing, and much less fat.
According to the university’s news, the food scientists had developed a new process to create a low-calorie, low-fat butter alternative. Shaped like a spread instead of butter, this emulsion is made from 80% water with some drops of vegetable oil and milk fat.
“Imagine 80% water in 20% oil and we create something with the consistency of butter, with the mouth feel of butter and creaminess of butter,” said Alireza Abbaspourrad, an assistant professor of food chemistry and ingredient technology who published the study. Abbaspourrad also added that emulsifying water is nothing new, but adding more and more water until it reaches an 80% to 20% ratio is.
In general, emulsions made from water don’t have a texture that’s appetizing or spreadable. Therefore, Abbaspourrad and his team added natural ingredients like beeswax to help stabilize the mixture so it would look and feel like a buttery spread.
When you compare it to regular butter that comes from cow’s milk, the water one is undoubtedly much healthier. According to Abbaspourrad, his team’s butter has less than 3 grams of fat and 25 calories per tablespoon. In contrast, cow butter contains about 11 grams of fat and 100 calories per serving.
If we’re talking about the amount of fat and calories of butter or spread alternatives, they’re usually not that different from the regular ones. One brand contains 11 grams of fat and 100 calories in one tablespoon and another brand contains 4 grams of fat and 40 calories per serving.
One might argue that the flavor of the water butter won’t be the same as the real butter or its alternatives. However, Abbaspourrad assured that it would likely be pretty easy to add a few ingredients to the low-calorie base to mimic a buttery taste.
“We can add milk protein or plant-based protein, and since the water acts like a carrier, we can adjust for nutrition and load it with vitamins or add flavors. Essentially, we can create something that makes it feel like butter — and instead of seeing a lot of saturated fat, this has minute amounts. It’s a completely different formulation,” said Abbaspourrad.
Since this butter is “cleaner” and healthier, it’s a perfect choice for people who want to limit their butter consumption. There are some who are sensitive to dairy products, some have switched to a vegan lifestyle, and some just want to not consume butter too much because they want to lower their cholesterol level.
Additionally, if this water butter becomes mainstream, it might help reduce our dependence on milk-producing cattle as well as the toll that raising those animals takes on the land and the environment.
Now, I mentioned that the alternatives have similar amount of fat and calories. But this water butter isn’t going to be in your grocery stores or favorite online shops soon. Therefore, if you want to look for real butter substitutes, here are some brands that you can enjoy.
1. Miyoko’s Creamery European-Style Cultured Vegan Butter
Miyoko’s Creamery European-Style Cultured Vegan Butter is made with a coconut oil base and added protein-rich cashews. But the unique thing is, it’s made with real cultures, just like your traditional, dairy butter. And even though it’s organic, low-sodium, non-GMO, and free of palm oil, this brand’s butter browns really well, which is perfect if you want to make delicious sauces.
2. Earth Balance Vegan Butter
A lot of people like Earth Balance because this brand has great flavor and texture that works well for baking or making simple toasts. And since this brand specializes in vegan products, you can find more butter substitutes. For example, their soy-free buttery spread is great for spreading on sandwiches or toast.
3. Fleischmann’s Solid Margarine
You might assume that all margarine is vegan, but unfortunately it’s not. The main ingredients in margarine are vegetable oil, salt, and water, but a lot of margarine brands do add animal products, such as whey and lactose. Fleischmann’s margarine is indeed vegan, and it’s ideal for baking and frying. Also, be sure to read the labels if you’re looking for a vegan margarine.
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