A popular food blog associated with Yahoo! News this week published the results of a taste test by two noted foodies, of five different mega-brand spreadable margarines. The tasters then dared to compare margarine and butter.
The gist of those findings was…
The taste of the margarines varied widely, from neutral to sweet to salty to fishy (probably from the fish oils added to the blend to make that brand high in Omega 3 fatty acids).
Colour varied from rich (buttery) yellow to nearly white (for one vegan brand). Colour was a factor in overall ratings by the tasters but flavour was the main consideration, by far.
Butter v.s. Margarine
However… None of the margarines tasted could begin to approach the flavour and cooking/baking characteristics of butter in the learned opinion of the tasters, although they agreed that margarines – especially those spreads high in polyunsaturated fats – are probably healthier than butter.
In culinary school, a Nutrition and Health course was a mandatory component of our program. The instructor – a certified dietitian and nutritionist – summed up her professional (not amateur/foodie) stance on the butter v.s marg question by recommending that we all use less fat – saturated or otherwise – to be healthier overall. And, just by the way: We never, ever cooked with marg in practical classes or in the school restaurant. It wasn’t even stocked in our pantry. Butter was always provided for ‘butter’ applications, such as sautéing and pan frying, and canola or olive oil were used for oil applications, such as mayonnaises and vinaigrettes.
But one of my Food Theory instructors, a seasoned Chef and restauranteur, gets the last word: He always insisted that refined, hydrogenated vegetable oils (from which all margarines are made) were only a molecule or two different from plastic!
They’ve had their say and I’ve had mine, and so (by proxy) has a professional dietician and nutritionist, and a distinguished culinary instructor and Chef.. As with most issues in the food universe, it’s up to you to decide what you want to put into your body…
~ Maggie J.