Whether you are vegan as a personal choice or due to dietary restrictions, there is an option for nearly anything. This does not exclude butter! There are dozens of vegan butter brands to choose from. You may be wondering if you can brown that vegan butter. Let’s dive in and find out in this article.
Most vegan butters do not contain the necessary ingredients to brown. For butter to brown, the butter you use must contain proteins and sugars. Vegan butter can only brown if it contains the proteins and the sugars found in nut products.
In this article, we will discuss the browning process and its effects on a recipe. We will also explore the main ingredients in vegan and regular butter and why these matter when it comes to browning butter. Unpacking other common-related questions will also help better comprehend this culinary technique. Read on for a better understanding of browning butter.
What is the difference between brown butter and regular butter?
Browned butter is butter that has undergone a chemical reaction. It does not refer to the color of the butter. Browning butter is a culinary technique used in recipes we all know and love, like cookies. This technique can also apply in more savory recipes serving as a sauce. The process of cooking the butter is called “browning.”
To brown butter, it is recommended to use a lighter-colored saucepan. This will allow you to see exactly what color the butter is turning, which will indicate when it is finished. The size of the pan depends on how much butter you need to brown. Turn your stove on medium heat and stir continuously until you get a color similar to that of a hazelnut.
Depending on how much your recipe calls for, it is important to cut the butter into even chunks to avoid burning it. Browned butter can quickly turn into burnt butter, so make sure to be stirring and paying close attention. This should take about ten minutes.
The main ingredients in butter are butterfat, milk proteins, and water. These pieces have proteins and sugars in them, which are mandatory for caramelization when heat is applied. This process is called the Maillard process.
The Maillard process is when the proteins and sugars of the butter transform. This is a chemical reaction between the amino acid and reducing sugars while heat is applied. The effect of the Maillard process on butter is new flavors, aromas, and colors.
Why not vegan butter?
Vegan butter is butter that is not made with products that contain dairy. The main ingredients of vegan butter are often a type of plant-based oil and water. Sometimes flavor enhancers are added to create a more similar taste to butter.
The proteins and sugars in regular butter are found in dairy. Because vegan butter does not contain dairy, it does not have the chemical properties necessary to brown.
Most vegan butter cannot brown unless it contains a nut product, like cashew milk for example. Cashew milk would be the dairy substitute by sourcing protein and sugar. Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter contains Cashew milk, making it one of the few vegan butter options able to brown.
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What is brown butter used for?
There are many reasons cooking or baking might call for browning butter. Typically you would brown butter to get a nuttier and more caramelized flavor. Additionally, browning butter is used to enhance the flavor and combination of flavors in your recipe.
Browned butter is often used when making sweets. We find it in our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes and even brown butter blondies. There is a boldness that this ingredient creates that is unmatchable. It enriches flavors in crusts and pastries as well.
On the other end of our pallet, browned butter is used in savory dishes as well. It is a staple in French cuisine. Beurre noisette, a French phrase, translates to hazelnut butter or brown butter. It is often used as a sauce or glaze paired with proteins and vegetables.
Can brown butter be made ahead and stored?
Brown butter can be made ahead and stored. The preparation is identical and can be referred to in the previous section of this article. The best way to store browned butter is to put it in a container with a lid. Avoiding exposure will preserve the purity and boldness of the flavor.
When you remove the now-browned butter from the stovetop and heat it, it will harden. You will want to put it in a room-temperature container. You can refrigerate this ingredient for up to five days. Once you are ready to use it, remove it from the fridge and let it soften by melting it or bringing it to room temperature.
Does coconut oil brown like butter?
Coconut oil is often used as a butter substitute when cooking. This oil is purely the oil that is extracted from coconut, meaning no protein and no sugar, and thus cannot be browned.
However, coconut butter can be browned. Coconut butter is blended coconut and contains both proteins and sugars. Since coconut contains proteins and sugars, it can brown like regular butter.
Can you brown margarine?
Margarine, another occasional butter replacement, is made mostly of vegetable oil and water. It could be soybean, corn, palm, or olive oil, or perhaps a combination. Although margarine can be used like butter, the oils with which it is made do not have proteins in them and therefore can not be browned.
Summarizing butter browning
The short answer to your question is, yes, vegan butter can brown if it contains proteins and sugars. We learned that this is not common in most vegan butter. However, we do know that it does exist. Miyoko’s European Style Cultured Vegan Butter is an example of a vegan butter that can be browned.
We also reviewed the ingredients in margarine, coconut oil, butter, and vegan butter. This has helped us compare the differences and know whether or not the substance can brown. Reviewing the Maillard process allowed us to understand these chemical reactions.
Whether you need it for cookies or a new French recipe that you are trying, you can now achieve browning butter. Stir and cook your butter on medium heat for about ten minutes and enjoy the amplified flavors.
Before you go, be sure to check out some of our other articles relating to butter:
How To Soften Butter For Spreading
Can You Add Salt To Unsalted Butter?