Like many toast enthusiasts, I’m no stranger to battling with a rock-hard stick of butter, attempting to spread a cold lump while mutilating my bread in the process. When it comes to breakfast, there’s no question that spreadable butter is the only way to go. However, most of the spreadable varieties on the market will not only cost you more than your standard stick butter, but often contain genetically modified canola oil that you may rather exclude from your daily diet.
The good news is that making your own spreadable butter at home is easier than you could imagine, ensuring your toast will never have to encounter the wrath of non-room temperature butter again.
Though butter itself has been consumed since ancient times, created through the simple process of churning milk or cream to separate the butterfat, spreadable butter was a modern invention first introduced to consumers in the early 1990s. In order to be made “spreadable,” maintaining a soft texture even during refrigeration, another step had to be added to the age-old butter-making process.
The first, and most complicated, method for creating spreadable butter was developed by a group of scientists at the New Zealand Dairy Institute, who manipulated the fat content of the butter to get to a creamy consistency. Through a slow process of heating and reheating, the softer butterfat was separated and concentrated together so that in the end, a custom spread with a higher percentage of the softer fats could be packaged and sold. While this method produces a product that is 100 percent diary with no outside ingredients, it’s also complicated, time-consuming, and pretty freakin’ hard to replicate at home.
Another popular means of producing the smooth stuff involves feeding cows a diet of canola and soybean, which creates a higher concentration of the fats that produce soft butter in the cow’s milk. This technique is the basis of butter brands like Kerrygold, which boasts their naturally softened product. This is a great method to try at home… if you happen to have your own dairy cows and butter churning equipment.
As for the rest of us, the far simpler and more approachable way to create a soft, sumptuous spread is to incorporate oil into the mix. By combining just two ingredients—butter and oil—we can all achieve the perfect, toast-friendly consistency at home in no time.
While the majority of store-bought brands utilize canola oil in their butter blends, most other oils will also do the trick, including extra-virgin olive, flax seed, grape seed, and hemp seed oils. The flavor of your butter will change depending on the type of oil used, so make sure to test the flavor combinations of various oils with your butter before you fully commit.
While selecting your oil, set out one stick of store-bought butter (salted or unsalted) to soften to room temperature, and cut it up into smaller chunks to make the blending process easier.
When the butter reaches a mixable consistency, add in 1/3 cup of oil and combine, using a hand blender or food processor for a creamier texture, or a wooden spoon if you have limited tools and would rather cut down on cleanup.
To make bigger batches, simply add an extra 1/3 cup of oil for each ½ cup (1 stick) of butter you use. And, if you want to get fancy with your flavors, add your favorite kind of sea salt, minced herbs, and spices into the mix for customized flavored butters at home.
Transfer your homemade masterpiece to an airtight jar or container, refrigerate for a couple of hours until firm, and voila! Healthier spreadable butter for less money than the store-bought brands. You—and your toast—will never bother battling with tough butter again.
This story originally appeared on Myrecipes.com.