Tag Archives: Food Chemistry

Homemade Vegan Butter: An update

Vegan Butter

I’ve posted previously about making vegan butter from Mattie’s excellent recipe at veganbaking.net. Since my previous post, I’ve made butter a few more times, and made a few small changes.

The Vegan Baking recipe

Mattie’s butter recipe at Vegan Baking is the best vegan butter recipe that I’ve come across. I love how it replicates the chemistry of dairy butter, rather than simply imitating its flavors. It uses curdled soy milk solids as a flavor base, and uses a mix of coconut oil (for solid / saturated fat) and vegetable oil as the fat.

This recipe captures the flavor and texture of butter much more realistically than any butter alternative that I’ve tried. It has a complex flavor, and could stand up to high cuisine in a way that Earth Balance could not. This recipe is still the basis for the vegan butter we’ll be making, with a few small adjustments.

Choosing Soy Milk

After making this a few times, I noticed that sometimes this would make incredible butter, whereas other times it was more pedestrian. I also noticed that sometimes the soy milk curdles in an obvious way, and other times it only curdles subtly. This led me to realize the importance of the choice of soy milk to use for making butter.

There are essentially two types of soy milk that I buy, or that I’ve seen in stores. There is general-purpose soy milk, which is usually fortified (extra calcium, vitamin B12, and usually vitamin D), and has stabilizers, such as carrageenan and xanthan gum, which keeps it from curdling in coffee, for instance. The alternative is basic soy milk, with only soybeans and water as ingredients.

In general, I think fortified / stabilized soy milk is a better choice nutritionally, since calcium, D and B12 are important in vegan diets. However for butter, as well as baked goods that require curdling soy milk, you want the basic soy beans and water style soy milk (such as this). You’ll also want the plain, unsweetened / non-vanilla kind, to avoid flavoring your butter. Since I use both types for different purposes, I usually have two types of milk at home: everyday-use fortified soy milk, and basic soy milk for making butter, yogurt, baking.

Curdling is important in giving vegan butter characteristic butter flavors, so choose a soy milk that curdles.

Vinegar

I’ve also found the choice of vinegar to be important in making vegan butter. The Vegan Baking recipe originally called for apple cider vinegar, and calls for a mix of apple cider vinegar and coconut vinegar, which I have yet to find in a store.

The main issue I had with the Vegan Baking recipe is the strength of the apple cider vinegar taste. Apple cider vinegar adds a sour fruity note to the butter, which contributes an important buttery flavor. However it is also a very strong flavor, and using apple cider vinegar as the only vinegar in this recipe overwhelms the butter’s subtle flavors.

The Vegan Baking article discusses this, and suggests a mix of coconut vinegar and apple cider vinegar if apple cider vinegar is too strong a taste. Since coconut vinegar is a rather unusual ingredient, I recommend mixing apple cider vinegar with something most people already have in their cupboard: white vinegar. I found that combining apple cider vinegar and white vinegar in a 1:3 ratio works very well.

Scale

The original recipe makes only a cup of butter (two regular-size sticks), which isn’t a lot of butter to make in a batch, and such a small amount of butter does not blend well in a 64oz vitamix container. For these reasons, I always make double batches of the recipe and freeze sticks of butter until I need them.

Recipe

Setup

Prepare a level place in your freezer for your butter to cool. Chill the mold you’ll be using in the freezer, so that the butter freezes quickly. Heat coconut oil until it’s liquid, but not much warmer than room temperature.

Prepare butter solids

3/4 cup plain soy milk (unsweetened, unflavored, and without stabilizers; see above)
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
3/4 tsp salt

Whisk ingredients and set aside for 10 minutes to curdle.

Prepare the oil blend

1 1/4 cups + 2 tsp lukewarm refined coconut oil
2 tbsp canola oil
4 1/2 tsp soy lecithin granules (or 2 tsp liquid soy lecithin)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum

Measure these into the blender that you’ll be using to blend. (Don’t blend yet, or you may scatter the lecithin granules, making them hard to mix in.)

Mix, blend and refrigerate

Add the butter solids to the oil mix in the blender, and blend.

Once well-blended, pour into a mold. I use an Allforhome mold, which makes 1/4 cup sticks of butter (half the size of normal butter sticks).

Put the mold in the freezer until the butter is frozen solid (a few hours).

Serve

Keep the butter in the freezer until ready to use, then move it to the fridge. If you’re able, keep it out at room temperature before using it to spread on bread. This yields a nice spreadable texture.

Final thoughts

Vegan butter is a great staple to have on hand, and it’s gratifying to make something that is so much better than what is available in stores. This recipe has won the approval of our family’s baker, who is otherwise skeptical of vegan butter, which is high praise.

I’m always open to trying different variations or improving a recipe, but to my palate, this butter is very nearly perfect.

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