Monday, June 22, 2009

Betta' Think Twice About Canning Butta'

This is an update on the safety of canning butter at home. Every single internet site I've seen saying it is not safe to home-can butter (including the Extension Service) quotes the same source: The National Center for Home Food Preservation. So, what is this group? Here's what their website says:
"The National Center for Home Food Preservation is your source for current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation. The Center was established with funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (CSREES-USDA) to address food safety concerns for those who practice and teach home food preservation and processing methods."
To read more statements from the National Center for Home Preservation about the dangers of home-canned butter, please click here.

I am convinced that these official sources are all absolutely correct that it is not safe to can butter --- until the USDA and National Center for Home Preservation develop a tested and safe procedure for us. However, from reading their statements, it seems to me that these agencies don't see the need for the consumer being able to can butter, per this statement from the above website:
"Good quality butter is readily available at all times, if butter is needed for fresh use."
Unfortunately, that might be the final word on a safe, tested method becoming available in the U.S. Would it make a difference if consumers offer those agencies some feedback and express interest in this issue?

Who does see a need for canned butter? People in Australia and New Zealand, for one thing. Companies have developed a safe method to can butter (and cheese, too) in those nations. These companies are likely making a tidy profit exporting their products to the United States, Middle East, and elsewhere, if all the food storage, preparedness, and camping websites talking about Red Feather canned butter and cheese are indicative.

Your options in storing butter right now?
  • Buy butter on sale and freeze it (FYI: I'm using butter that has been in my freezer at least two years with no loss of quality. We somehow found a case in the bottom of the freezer that we don't remember purchasing -- one of those food storage miracles, we think.)
  • Buy powdered butter (FYI: baked goods don't taste as good with powdered versus real butter. In addition, there seem to be serious health questions about oxidized dairy products' tendency to cling to the arteries. )
  • Buy shelf stable canned butter imported from New Zealand and Australia. Click here for an online review of Red Feather canned butter and cheese. You can find these products many places for many prices. Here is one of them: Totally

As a mom wanting to be completely prepared (sorry, it's just in my food storage genes), I wish that since commercially canning butter is doable, the government agencies involved with food safety would accordingly test and provide consumers with safe instructions to can butter ourselves. Alternatively, please, can't some enterprising U.S. company can butter and cheese and save us the extra costs involved with an imported product? Alas, for the time being, I stick with my year's supply of butter in the freezer.

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