Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 13, 2011 05:20 AM

No Butter For Christmas!?!

This is my third Christmas in Norway and there's been a crisis! The news reported a shortage of butter just in time for the holidays. My first thought was, "Uh oh, but this is 2011, no country is going to just up and run out of butter." Weelllll, fast forward a few days and (seriously) 8 grocery stores later and it seems that a country can, and did, up and run out. I can't even find ghee. There are signs hanging on the shelf stating that butter will be plentiful again after the 1st of the year. Ok, I can handle a healthier Christmas but what I DO need help with is

1) Cheddar Cheese Straws- I have talked them up and really want to make them for friends and family. My recipe calls for butter but I have seem some calling for shortening. I don't know what it would be called here or if they have it. Would shortening be my only other option?

2) Gravy- The only way I know how to make it is make a roux with butter and flour, them whisk in turkey drippings. I have never liked margarin but if push comes to shove, could I use that? If my dressing is with only olive oil, I at least want yummy, rich gravy.

3) Dessert- I could care less about dessert because I don't really care at all about sweets but I think my husband would feel short changed. I could always buy a frozen store bought pie unless someone has a stupid easy recipe that does not include butter. (Stupid easy because I am an awful baker.)

Thank you so very much, in advance. I will welcome any advice and/ or tips!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I can't help you with your cheddar cheese straws, but in terms of gravy - I drain most of the fat from the roasting dish, add flour or cornflour, stir it around over heat to cook out the flour, add booze (red wine, port, sherry - madeira or white wine might be better for turkey gravy), let that simmer for a bit, then add stock or vegetable cooking water. Bring it to the boil and reduce until it's the right thickness, then strain into a jug. My mother makes it in a similar fashion, but a 'no sieve' variety that uses a cold cornflour slurry into hot liquid to thicken. Jamie Oliver does something similar:

    Dessert - no bake cheese cake using olive oil or canola spread in the biscuit base. Or use lard for your pasrty.

    Also, is there a shortage of cream? If not, make your own butter.

    1. Is cream available? If so you could just make some butter. I've done that before in a pinch when I didn't have a car available. Plus, sometimes I do it just because it's fun! Just pour some cream in a container with a tight-fitting lid (I use disposable plastic containers most of the time, honestly.) Then just shake the container until it turns into butter.

      It takes a while, but I'll do it when I'm sitting and watching TV or something. You don't even have to be really aggressive - just sit there shaking it steadily, changing arms when you get tired, and before too long it will seperate into butter and whatever the "liquid" is called (I assume it's buttermilk, but I don't know that for sure.) Then you'll have freshly made butter for use in all your holiday recipes.

      You can add salt or seasonings with the cream, if you want. I often make butter this way with fresh herbs I need to use up. It's easier if you have a mixer - just throw it in the mixer, turn it on, and let it go. It'll eventually go past whipped cream and turn into butter.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ditdah

        You can also do it in your mixer, just watch it carefully, when it begins to turn to butter, your kitchenaid will make a hellacious mess by splattering that separated liquid all OVER the kitchen if you turn your back for a moment. Trust me on this.

      2. Also, if you don't want to do the make your own butter thing, for the gravy you can use any fat to make the roux. The best flavor will come from pouring all your turkey drippings into a container, letting them sit and seperate, and skim the fat from the top of that. Mix that fat with your flour, and your gravy will be just as rich and have MORE flavor that it would with butter. If you don't want to go that route, personally, I'd use a neutral oil before I used margarine. But yes, margarine will work as well.

        1. Thanks, Y'all! I have to admit, I am kind of excited about the added challenge of having no butter to cook a delicious holiday meal but make my own butter??? I have never even thought about that before. Bring it on, Christmas dinner!! I'll be trying that tomorrow

          5 Replies
          1. re: Ikkeikea

            And you'll be able to impress all your guests by saying "not only did I make all this delicious food, but I made the butter myself!" It'll really impress people, but you don't have to tell them how easy it was. You'll look like a superstar!

            ETA: Here's a link to a blog with photos of someone who did it using a mixer:

            1. re: Ditdah

              But can you make it from pastuerized homogenized milk? When we were kids, my Mom used to always say, stop whipping the cream so much or it will turn into butter, but it never did.

              1. re: coll

                I've made butter accidentally when I briefly abandoned whipped cream in progress in the Kitchenaid! Also, the "shake the jar" method is pretty fun....all if there's cream available. There are some nice olive oil cake recipes on line, and I have used olive oil to make a roux as part of a vegan meal for friends.

                1. re: coll

                  I don't think the pastuerized/homogenized plays a role, but the butterfat content does. I think milk doesn't have enough fat in it to turn to butter... but someone else will probably know the science better than I do. When I make it I just use "whipping cream" or "heavy cream" in cartons from the grocery, and that's pasturized. I assume it's also homogenized, right?

                  1. re: Ditdah

                    Yup, and heavy is 36% butterfat while whipping is 40% I believe. I will definitely keep this in mind, as I'm finding a lot of the cheaper butters seem to have excess water added lately.

            2. Hmmm, I'm thinking a business venture might be in my near future, providing that tomorrow goes ok. It first turns into whipped cream, then butter?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ikkeikea

                Yeah - although if you've added salt or seasonings to it, it's not going to be a very tasty whipped cream! If you just dump it into a mixer bowl and let it go, it goes through the various stages of whipped cream (ex: soft peak, stiff peak, etc...) and then it starts to get grainy and seperate into butter and buttermilk. You drain off the liquid and then just "compress" the solids together. (Well, you don't have to - it just makes it smoother.)

                If you roll it up in some waxed paper, you could start selling it at a premium to people outside the grocery stores, when they come out empty handed!