Miyoko’s Creamery has cracked the code on vegan butter.*

The Bay Area vegan cheesemaker*, Miyoko’s Kitchen, recently released VeganButter, a cultured cashew and coconut oil “butter” that can be spread, melted, or used in baking just like butter. The kicker is that unlike heavily-processed margarines (which aren’t necessarily vegan and aren’t allowed in my household), Veganbutter is 100 percent animal product-free, organic and actually tastes incredible.

As a butter connoisseur I don’t take that statement lightly. But in a late night, highly unscientific kitchen counter taste test against cultured European butter, I actually preferred the taste of Veganbutter slathered on sourdough bread. To the tune of half the loaf. I blame the cultures.

Like yogurt, live bacteria are added to “cultured” butters before churning, creating very noticeable tart, sweet flavor. Most American butters lack culture, which doesn’t mean they’re terrible at clever party banter, but are simply churned cream and salt without the cultures. 

So how do you make this oxymoron of a food? We asked CEO and Founder Miyoko Schinner for the details.

“In the old days, dairy butter was cultured, too (still is in parts of Europe). We wanted to capture that flavor,” she said.  “The flavor and tang come from fermentation of fresh cashew milk, which we make in-house, then add dairy cultures (lactic acid bacteria) to the milk, and ferment until it reaches the right pH.  We don’t add any flavorings — it’s all naturally derived through fermentation!” said Schinner.

If you’re shaking your head in disbelief, we’ll admit that there are a few differences that true butter lovers will notice.

The texture of VeganButter right out of the fridge is a bit crumbly, compared to the smoothness of real butter. It also comes in a plastic wrapping, instead of foil or waxed paper, so you have to dump the whole thing out on a plate, then repackage the rest for later use, which can be messy. We also didn’t love the overall color, which is more white than yellow, making it look a bit more like tofu than butter. Finally, when melted, the flavor changes slightly, giving it a slightly “buttered popcorn” flavor. Minor stuff, and definitely not deal-breakers for us.

So if you’re thinking about taking the plunge into veganism and can’t bear the thought of a butter-free existence (or lactose intolerant), we think Miyoko’s Creamery VeganButter might just make life a little more delicious.

 

Miyoko’s Cultured VeganButter is available at Trader Joe’s, $7.99 or online at miyokoskitchen.com.

*, **: Yes, we know that without dairy it’s technically not “butter” but saying vegan butter-style spread is really clunky. Miyoko’s Kitchen also makes “cheese” that isn’t actually cheese, but cultured nut product.