Probiotics: Now I get to have fun watching it all rot, but is it just for fun or medicine?

Ginger bug

There is a really good chance that if you are reading this blog, you’ve already heard of naturally fermented foods. Especially since at this point, most of my traffic is likely to either come from real food and sustainable lifestyle blogs I follow, people on Pinterest interested in the same subjects, or my sweetly supportive boyfriend. But, like any good blogger I must of course put my own words on the subject out there. Except that there are so many words to be said, and I’m not quite sure yet what I fully think.

So my ginger bug that I started because of Fermentation for Beginners seems to have caused quite a stir on me.  While my bug started its first few bubbles, I dived into the internet and strangled it for all the info it was worth, blew up a new board on Pinterest (man that thing seems to be growing way faster than all my other boards) and checked out Sandor Katz‘s books from the library (The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation).

Only I’ve been so busy stalking the fantastically fabulous Wild Fermentation Facebook group and various blogs around the world that I haven’t even had time to catch up with myself, settle down, and read my library books. I was going to write about a ginger bug, but now I’m starting Rejuvelac, sauerkraut, and apple cider vinegar as well. Also, I’ve been reading so much online that when I went back to browse Fermentation for Beginners, I noticed that there are some things said that (in theory) I’m not sure I agree with or I seem to be telling myself that I know better methods. I still think it’s a good book, but I’d say it probably shouldn’t be the only fermentation book in my library. I’m really looking forward to cracking open these library books, for sure.

What got me in so deep is that this new culinary adventure may also have the medicinal benefit of probiotics, the friendly bacteria that can actually do your body some good. So far I know that some pros are claims of improved digestion, especially for people who suffer from chronic conditions related to digestion and intestinal disturbances, or inflammation in general including joint pain. There may be a possible weight loss benefit for some people. There is the added benefit that beneficial bacteria and microbes may help the immune system, decreasing our reliance on antibiotics and allowing our immunities to develop naturally (thus not providing bacteria the chance to mutate a resistance to antibiotics). There also seems to be benefit to some psychological conditions, including anxiety, depression, and autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

Now, my son has frequent stomach upset and we both have anxiety issues. In addition, I have chronic joint pain that doctors have seen inflammation with but have not been able to pinpoint the cause of (and I got tired of being a pincushion so gave up trying to figure it out). So, this certainly gets my interest up.

I spoke with my son’s doctor and she said that while it may help his stomach issues, the research supporting probiotics decreasing anxiety or depression is weak (though it does exist). She mentioned that she has seen several clients through the years experiment with different diets to help disorders such as anxiety, autism, Asperger’s, and ADHD. She said there was only a minimal impact on symptoms and therapeutic intervention was still required. (Secretly I thought that even a small benefit is a cool side effect when you’re only doing this to make neat new sodas and tangy foods.)

Yet, some not so shady sources seem to contradict what she has seen in her personal practice. It does seem that Harvard is getting behind some of the claims. So that seems reputable. I also noticed that the results of one study were labeled “inconclusive” because parents of kids with autism were refusing to take their kids off of probiotics once the symptoms alleviated to see if the children reverted to pre-probiotic behaviors. I don’t blame them. If I had a kid with autism and they improved on a treatment, I think I’d be more likely to flip my doctor the bird than take my kid off those wonderful meds.

I know there are plenty of people who feel better after making their own probiotic drinks and foods, but that could be the result of removing harmful additives, especially if they were soda junkies before. It could also be a placebo effect, but I don’t care. I love the placebo effect, it’s like medicine without harmful side effects. That’s actually pretty neat. Unless you are a pessimist, then you get the nocebo effect, and you only experience the negative side effects. No, I’m serious, that’s a thing. Google is right over there, go look it up if you don’t believe me.

More convincing are the reports from people who found themselves in a lot of intestinal discomfort following a large amount of antibiotics, and then they experienced relief with probiotic foods. However, in such a case it appears that you may need a doctor’s help recommending the right probiotic medicine to use. I’ve run across several articles that discuss how one strain of prescription probiotics may benefit a certain disorder or reaction to antibiotics, but other strains are effective on other disorders. This may explain why some studies have not shown support while others have; perhaps the incorrect strain was used in the testing. In home fermentation, perhaps one food might not help while another will.

In looking at both research and stories of personal experiences, it seems like they vague results are likely because there are a number of causes of any of these disorders. There’s a lot of discussion about mice and probiotics, but we aren’t mice and our lives, environment, and diets are more complicated than the average laboratory mice. We have more chance of running into other underlying causes of certain behaviors, disorders, or diseases.

I know that boosts to digestion are said to help as much as any medicine might, as it allows our bodies to absorb more nutrients and those nutrients can help to strengthen systems that flush out more toxins. We can increase overall energy and  possibly decrease emotional stress, especially if the overall diet improves along with digestion.

Actually, for a long time I’ve been a believer that efficient digestion and assimilation of nutrients can help a lot of disorders. If you aren’t absorbing and utilizing your nutrients correctly, your body will lack what it needs to function. A boost in digestion means you are absorbing more nutrition from the same amount of food (and your body is using less resources and energy to get the added nutrition).

A lot of minerals and vitamins may impact metabolism, conversion of nutrients into cellular tissue, and even production of neurochemicals such as serotonin and melatonin. One nutrient or chemical out of whack can produce a chain reaction. If we aren’t producing melatonin correctly, we aren’t sleeping well, and therefore everything from memory and learning, our ability to control our emotions and react to stress, to our ability for our body to heal and repair itself during deep sleep will be damaged.

Also, if we are off in one nutrient, we are likely to be off in more than one, causing multiple systems to be stressed out from multiple causes. Digestion isn’t the only factor by far. There are also genetics, lifestyle habits, and environmental factors that could be affecting our health and well being (as well as other underlying issues).

It could be that by improving digestion we provide a little more benefit and support to these systems, and in some cases that could help. I can see how obesity could be potentially helped in some cases. If you are driven to overeat due to the body trying to make up for a lack of nutrients then improving digestion might help you. If that isn’t the cause of your obesity, it might not.

If your body is sending you stress signals (resulting in anxiety) to indicate the presence of a toxin, perhaps clearing your gut of yeast or detrimental microbes and replacing them with healthy probiotics will decrease your symptoms. If that’s not what is causing your anxiety, it might not.

What works for one person is not guaranteed to work for another because a wide range of diseases and disorders display the same symptoms. Headaches for example. They can be caused by insomnia, hormonal fluctuations, dehydration, aftermath or side effects of drugs (recreational or prescribed), eyestrain, stress, and so on. If your headache is due to a lack of sleep, a glass of water won’t help.

I’ve also seen information that says how the probiotics are delivered matters; they need something durable to survive through the gut. Critics of probiotics say that the bacteria will die in the stomach acids, while fans say that even then the probiotic foods will make the intestine set up a more beneficial environment (the probiotic as prebiotic argument). True, if a probiotic food has bacteria that die in the stomach acids it may still set up prebiotic conditions in the intestines to allow favorable bacteria to grow, but it also seems of benefit to try to make sure that some of the beneficial bacteria actually get there to colonize the favorable conditions.

What I’ve read so far has me thinking that complex carbohydrates may be better than the simple sugars in soda making (blackstrap molasses instead of refined sugar), and maybe yogurt or fermented cream cheese spreads on bread might benefit from the digestion-slowing gluten and complex carbs in whole grains. In other words, if a food containing probiotics is more difficult to break down in the stomach, it might be able to deliver the actual probiotic strains to the gut instead of simply making the gut less friendly to evil little microbes and malicious yeast.

There may also be a problem with people’s personal stories regarding these benefits. Most of the time when I’ve read personal accounts, the people are fed up with doctors (like with me and my joints) and they make broad, sweeping changes to their lifestyle. In these cases, it’s hard to say for sure if it’s all of the changes working together, if it’s only one or two of them, or if it’s one thing buried in the giant list of changes. For instance, if you cut several foods out of your diet at the same time, what if it was only one or two foods that were the cause of your particular issue and the other changes were unnecessary restrictions? I can also see how such stories aren’t going to persuade the medical field too quickly (they’re real strict about changing only one variable at a time and rigorously sticking to the scientific method).

In the meantime, whether or not they fulfill all of their health claims, these fermentation methods do provide us with homemade soft drinks (and other foods) that are healthier than commercial counterparts. We can decrease sugar, use organic ingredients, supplement with medicinal or nutritious ingredients, and experiment with interesting flavors. We can also cut out preservatives, artificial flavoring, and artificial color. This all sounds good to me.

Now I think I’m done thinking about it. I want to go read and just play in the kitchen rather than watch people get into snark fests in the comment sections on newspapers for towns I don’t even live in.

How is my ginger bug doing anyway, you ask? Well, I’m not sure. It seems pretty sluggish, but it is making some bubbles. I did put it into some apple juice, but the result was too sweet and it took way too long to build up pressure. The result wasn’t very fizzy either. I think this week I’ll start changing my feeding method and see how that works out. I was using a method where I had a jar filled with water that I put a tablespoon each of sugar and ginger each day (seemed easier than what was in my book and worked for someone else) but this means the ginger bug goes from being too thin to being too syrupy. I’m going to go back to measuring out my water as well and see if I get better results.

So far my first Rejuvelac was just awful (I think I got some bad microbes in it), but my apple cider vinegar seems to be coming along just fine. That’s the one in the middle of my first pic, my apples are starting to sink so it will be ready to strain soon. I made some sauerkraut too, it’s only a few days old but very active. I’ll post about each of these soon :).

Now I’m going to share some interesting pages I found, mostly because if I’ve missed something fascinating, I’d love for you to cue me in. In the meantime, I’m going to pull away from the internet and get to reading these library books while my new kitchen pets bubble away.

Food Renegade seems pretty happy and enthusiastic with probiotics.

Harvard also seems optimistic about probiotics, especially when it concerns intestinal health. It would be hard for someone to criticize them as a source (unless they’re an ultra snob).

WebMD has some suggestions on which probiotic strains may help certain particular intestinal difficulties.

This CNN article also describes how different strains may alleviate different disorders.

Here’s another pro-probiotic news article.

This How Stuff Works article discusses things of interest for a balanced viewpoint and a nice list of links at the end.

There’s been some evidence that if you are genetically prone to arthritis, gut bacteria may be involved in rheumatoid arthritis.

Actually, I think this study seems to be pretty soundly demonstrating that efficient digestion may decrease obesity (if poor digestion is a factor in the cause in the first place). At least, it may help your obese pet mice.

Some more messing with mice guts demonstrated a rise or decrease in anxiety symptoms in mice.

Here’s a brief summary of several studies, actually I wish the author went into more detail but it is an easy read.

This article tells of how probiotics may decrease symptoms of autism or Asperger’s in some people, as well as discusses more psychological benefits to probiotics.

This page on an autism site naturally discusses autism, but also other disorders that probiotics might help (and in a balanced and honest way).

I’ve heard that some kids with autism are put on the GFCF diet, but what I think is seriously interesting is that this page mentions that there are differences between what intestinal disturbances children with autism display in one decade versus another. This seems to imply that we still have not uncovered the full range of environmental causes that may be contributing to the disorder (which I already knew but there’s a big pointing “what happened in this timeframe?” finger). I also like how that page is honest about the fact that treating the intestines does not help all children with autism. But if you or a loved one have autism, this seems like a great place to find help and support.

The Wild Fermentation group on Facebook has a great page about fermentation myths and facts. That’s a good group full of some pretty levelheaded people. Also some pretty and levelheaded people.

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Misadventures in Homemade Butter

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

I can’t think of a more satisfying feeling than biting into warm, buttery, homemade bread. I love my bread, and I should. I spend a couple of years developing my mad bread-making skills. Every bite of my bread is a reminder of my hard work and success, and my family knows this effort has been out of love. Even when a loaf fails miserably, we still manage to love it somehow, like a family pet that’s all wonky in the brain. Something has been bothering me though. Why do I work so hard and then turn around and smear regular “whatever was on sale” butter on my bread? This must be stopped.

Thankfully, The Magic Teaspoon has some great suggestions for herbal butters, and simple instructions on making your own butter with a blender. I had that, and I also had a brand new little butter bell that hadn’t even been taken out of the box. Butter bells keep your butter fresh while out on the counter at room temperature, allowing you to have spreadable butter whenever you want it. The butter is kept fresh with an air tight seal of water when the bell is closed. I don’t know why it took me so long to get one.

If you like it when newbies post about their clumsy attempts, you are going to love this.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

My first attempt was a pumpkin spice flavored butter with the blender. With the cold weather, I love this spice to help soothe my joints and help me face the horrors of chilly air when out running errands. So, I added 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Next I added some cream (1 cup), and some filtered water straight from the refrigerator (1/2 cup).

After a couple of minutes of blenderizing, I lifted the lid and smoothed it down with a spatula then blenderized again. I also figured out that if I kept the lid tipped ever so slightly and lightly used the spatula to smooth the butter as it was spinning, I could keep he butter churning more easily and the process went much more smoothly. This is how I ended up with butter in my hair.

Next step: drain out the buttermilk.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

I had my pretty little butter bell all clean and waiting, and I ended up with fresh buttermilk. Once it drained for a little while, I smoothed it in to my happy little bell, and it promptly fell out. This made me sad. A look at my recipe showed me that I wasn’t supposed to put the water in until the cream was whipped. Oops. I think I ended up whipping a bunch of water into my butter. Sigh.

Later on, browsing for other blender butter recipes on the web showed me that The Magic Teaspoon uses a method where the blender washes the butter for you, which is very convenient. (When I made the mason jar butter, washing the buttermilk out with that chilled water was not very nice to my winter-tender joints.)

Next time I try making butter, I think I’ll use this method again only I’ll do it right this time, and see if I can get my butter to stay in the bell. It might be that the entire method of washing in the blender isn’t right for my butter bell, but I’ll certainly give it a try.

Once chilled the butter was quite firm, though it does dent with a finger pressed into it a little more easily than my store-bought butter.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

In the meantime, I had in my hands the first real buttermilk that I had ever seen. Even better, it was pumpkin spice flavored. I saved it for pancakes the next day. This buttermilk was a little watered down due to adding water before draining; recipes that call for buttermilk may need to be adjusted. I used it instead of water in a pumpkin pancake recipe that didn’t call for any buttermilk, and they turned out very nummy and fluffy. You can wash blender butter in a later step and still get buttermilk out of it just like you can with mason jar butter, that just wasn’t the process I used.

By the way, The Magic Teaspoon had several recipes for herbal butters that you can make with store-bought butter, none of them were pumpkin spice but I’ll keep this chapter in mind when playing around with different flavors. The easiest way to make an herbal butter would be to put your ingredients into a blender or a food processor with a stick or two of butter and then blend it all together (or mash the herbs in with the back of a fork), I’m sure I’ll try this as well when I don’t have time to whip up my own butter.

If you want cultured butter (the cream is cultured first with healthy probiotic bacteria), I don’t know if I would add spices. I know that cinnamon and some other spices or herbs with antibacterial properties  may interfere with yeast rising (this is why cinnamon breads have the bulk of their spices swirled in the center, so the areas between the swirls are able to rise more). If bread yeast doesn’t like it, probiotic bacteria might not like it either. Who knows though, I’ve seen sourdough starter recipes that include antibacterial herbs and people say they seem to work fine, even though lactobacteria are a part of a sourdough culture. Experiment and see how it goes for you (and maybe let me know).

My next adventure was the cardiovascular muscle toning exercise of mason jar butter. I made butter by shaking a jar and I didn’t even smack myself in the face with the jar. This is a proud moment for me.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

I gotta say, this was a lot of fun. Then again, maybe that’s because I loaded some Harry Belafonte onto my mp3 player and danced to the tune of “Jump in the Line”. This had the added bonus of annoying my son by singing “Shake, shake, shake, señora” while he was trying to play video games. It is the right of every mother to annoy their child, and I take my rights as a duty to perform with utmost enthusiasm.

It didn’t take very long before the cream stopped sloshing. I peeked at my whipped cream.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

A couple of verses of Belafonte later, my fat began to separate from the buttermilk.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

It might be a little tricky to see here, but what I had appeared to be a smooth island of butter floating in a milky pond. I thought it was supposed to look more broken up than that, so I kept shaking, hoping to get little clumps of butter and lots of buttermilky goodness.I was really looking forward to that buttermilk too, seeing as how it wouldn’t be thinned out by the cold water like it was with the blender method I used.

But that is not what happened.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

Instead, the buttermilk ended up being whipped right back into the butter. Live and learn. I think I must have shaken for half an hour trying to get my little clumps of butter (and my biceps are a little bit bigger for the effort).

Now I know; when the fats start smacking together and the butter falls from the cream, the time is right to drain and wash even if my butter doesn’t look all clumpy. I might use a bigger jar next time, or leave more room at the top, and see if that helps everything go more smoothly. The next step is to strain out the buttermilk, but mine was all mixed in so I went straight to washing.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

All you have to do is pour in some chilled water then squish the water around through the butter with your fingers, and work the butter in a way that is similar to kneading bread. Pour out the milky water, then add more. Repeat this until the water is clear.

Get all the buttermilk out, or as much as possible, as it might make your butter turn rancid more quickly. I had to repeat this step a lot from my newbie clumsiness, but I did end up with clean butter eventually. This time my butter stayed in the bell.

How to make butter with a mason jar or blender, including homemade cultured butter or culinary and healing herbal butters for a butter bell, and how I did it wrong from Dryad In The Elm at dryadintheelm.com. This was a lot of fun and I loved it, the butter tastes great, and thankfully we all learn from our mistakes ;).

I did have to smooth it level after each use for it to stay in the bell properly, but I was able to use this nice soft butter on my bread for a few days. I had enough to put some in the refrigerator as well.  It was light and tasty, and very fun to make (even if things didn’t go exactly as planned).

Somewhere in there, somewhere around when things started becoming solid and started shaking less, I suddenly looked at my jar in amazement. Wait a minute, what magic is this anyway? I know that friction causes heat, and heat can sometimes help certain things dissolve, but I wasn’t trying to make two substances combine in a solution, was I? This was an entirely mechanical process with only one ingredient. How could this be happening? So, I Googled.

It took me about three seconds to find The Science of Whipped Cream and Butter from Food Retro. Apparently butter is made by smacking fat globules together until they stick, and then the water gets pushed out.A little less simplified: water repelling phospholipids surround the fat triglycerides in a layer, keeping the fat in a water repelling bubble. Agitation causes the phospholipids to release their hold on each other (in my head I see something similar to the kid’s game of crack the whip, only the poor phospholipids are screaming in abject terror as they are ripped apart from their friends and loved ones).

As the layer is broken, the fat (triglycerides) in the center break out and seek other fat molecules and cling together for dear life (they so saw what happened to the phospholipids, I don’t blame them for sticking together one bit). When they cling they do so tightly, and the water molecules are forced out.

Serious Eats gets even more nitty gritty, with molecule diagrams and discussion of colloids, and happy or sad faces where the science books usually put a boring positive or negative symbol instead. Man they make science look cute. Also, I didn’t even think about the fact that chemistry might be involved in the process of making a foam for the whipped cream stage, I just chalked it up to mechanical incorporation of air. But oh no, it’s all about the triglycerides.

Hopefully soon I’ll try this again, only I’d like to try culturing my cream first for a probiotic butter. I’m still learning about probiotic cultures, and I’m trying a few things that I’ll share when I’m ready. My first ginger ale didn’t quite turn out like I thought, but my son has frequent stomach issues and last night he tried some. About half an hour later, he said he felt great. I am encouraged, and might be looking at a few methods for getting more healthy bacteria into our diets. Maybe it was just the ginger goodness and its marvelous effect on the digestive system, but I’m hoping that the bacteria can help prevent him from getting so many stomach upsets in the future. Time will tell.

Plus, if I can keep this butter-making up (cultured or not) that’s another area of my life where I’ll be skimming out some preservatives and additives. Also, most of the time when you cut a machine out of the process, you end up with a more sustainable option. It’s a busy world though, and time does get frittered away. I bet though that I find the time every now and then to make a special flavored homemade butter.

There are butter churns that you can put on top of a mason jar, then you spin a crank instead of shaking. I was really tempted to put one on my wishlist and and then drop hints to my man, but looking more closely at the reviews I thought that the ones that hold up well are likely the ones that are way out of the budget. Actually, the less expensive ones were also out of the budget. I suppose if you made a large amount of butter on a regular basis one of these might be a nice tool (perhaps if you owned the cow it came from), but I think I’ll stick to my low-budget options.

There are also molds for homemade butter, both the shape we are familiar with (the rectangle sticks for putting in a butter dish) and cute little shapes like lambs and hearts. Candy and soap molds can be used too, as long as they are food safe materials. Those can be adorable and perhaps one day I’ll get one, but I’ll stick with my butter bell for now.

And some more buttery goodness from other fabulous people:

Karen made an awesome video of mason jar butter making on The Art of Doing Stuff. She seems like a fun kind of lady.

Dana Velden at The Kitchn has a wonderful article with lots of tips, it’s so worth the read that many of the pages I read referenced her.

Here’s a straight from the cow cultured butter kind of article from the lovely people at Mother Earth News. It was a sad day when thrift meant I had to cancel my magazine subscription, but I still enjoy their newsletter emails.

Jill Winger at The Prairie Homestead mentions that the reason store bought butter is so hard is due to a high water content (which also means that you’re buying less butter than you think and spending money on water, but I guess it also means less calories per tablespoon) and uses raw milk from her own cow for her cultured butter. One day I aspire to be so hard core. Very worth the read.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys reading the first few chapters of cookbooks, where they keep the history and interesting bits about the food (a kindred spirit), you’ll like the article by Jonathan S. White about Churning Cultured Butter at Home.

Ris Lacoste at Fine Cooking has a great looking recipe for Three-Herb Butter. The recipe calls for store bought butter, but of course you can use your own homemade goodness.

Leigh Anne at Your Homebased Mom has a few suggestions for flavored butters, including gift wrapping ideas for the holidays. She’s made some very pretty butters, this is a popular post on Pinterest.

Sonia at The Healthy Foodie has a run-down on making ghee or clarified butter. Besides lasting longer and being easier to use when a recipe calls for softened butter, ghee has a higher smoke point than regular butter. This is important to me because I use a cast-iron aebleskiver pan. When I was using regular butter to brush the wells, my pan got kind of gummy and sticky over time. Switching to ghee made my skillet more clean, and my aebleskiver browned better as well. I’m sure it is also superior for sautéing, I just tend to grab olive oil for that.

I love Lehman’s, and you can find some very old-school supplies in their online shop (not an affiliate link). Their catalog makes great browsing.

If any love of my life might be looking at this and contemplating a special gift for me sometime in the future, those wooden butter molds with the little carved decorations sure do look fun… They’re currently out of stock so you’re likely off the hook for now.