Saturday, February 21, 2009
If you remember, I got hold of some Red Feather Brand canned butter and cheese the other week. I finally decided it was time to test whether or not the quality was worth me stocking up on some for my "In case of apocalypse, break glass" store room. I devised three essential tests for the butter and cheese. The tests were buttered bread, a grilled cheese sandwich, and some mac and cheese. I began by cracking open the cans with my trusty opener. First was the butter.
I don't know what I was expecting, but when I opened the can I was fairly surprised. The contents of the can looked a lot like what I think room temperature butter should look like. It was creamy and had a deep yellow color that looked pretty enticing. I spread a piece of whole wheat sandwich bread thickly.
This actually tasted pretty good, a lot less salty then I expected. I thought that shelf stable canned butter would have to have a lot of salt as a preservative, but I guess fat is inherently kind of shelf stable on its own. There was a hearty, dare I say, fresh butter flavor with only a hint of can taste. All in all I give a thumbs up on this test.
Next I cracked open the cheese.
Again, I was surprised by the appearance. I had expected the cheese to have the fake bright orange color of Velveeta or Kraft singles. But no, it was an pale off white color. I picked off a small piece and popped it in my mouth. It had a sharp character that I would not expect of a processed cheese product. Imagine sharp white cheddar flavored Velveeta. Not too bad at all. I constructed a grilled cheese sandwich using the butter and cheese. I went with the buttered 4 sides grilled cheese method.
I fried the sandwich up in a skillet and ate it while standing in my kitchen. The butter was the star of the sandwich. It gave a wonderful, greasy, sodden-ness to the bread. The cheese melted sort of strangely, it did not begin to flow, instead maintaining its form but going soft. Again, two thumbs up here.
Next I began the slightly more complicated test of a mac and cheese. I used the standard Velveeta recipe. This requires melting some butter, throwing in flour, pouring in milk, adding the cheese, pouring over elbows, and throwing in oven. Simple. Classic.
We begin by melting the butter.
After making the bechamel, in went the cheese en mass.
This made a very thick sauce. The strange melting properties of the cheese were again apparent. It did not want to melt as handily as good old Velveeta would have. The cheese stubbornly held its form despite me chopping it up into little pieces which was sort of weird. Eventually most of it melted and I poured it over some whole wheat elbows and threw it in the oven. It came out looking a little dry but nicely browned.
This third crucial test was a little less successful than the other two. The flavor was there, good and cheesy, but the texture was definitely off. The cheese simply did not want to melt into a delicious sauce. However, if I was holed up in a cabin in the Adirondacks with a loaded shot gun, tired after a day of vigorous zombie slaying. I think this just might hit the spot. So I am not going to ding the quality of the butter or cheese here. For dairy products that come out of a can, both of these Red Feather products are aces in my book. So, any of you survival nuts out there can go ahead and order a case of each and put it somewhere that will annoy your wife (Mrs. Dave will appreciate the ode to all of my survival supply nooks and crannies).