Years ago, Earth Balance descended upon the dairy-free market as the first mainstream vegan butter alternative that didn’t contain trans fats. Today, they are still the clear leader and charging ahead with new products at a rapid pace. Not long ago I reported on their first soy-free, dairy-free alternative, and now I’m happy to share their “next generation” margarine, otherwise known as Earth Balance Organic Culinary Spreads.
The first option isn’t brand new, but it’s still pretty darn awesome. This Earth Balance Organic condiment is another soy-free gem, and made with beloved coconut oil. Coconut is one of the few plants that is rich in saturated fats (lauric acid, which is now being boasted as a “healthy” saturated fat), so its oil has a more decadent mouth feel than most vegetable, seed, and nut oils. I’ve been using coconut oil for years to make homemade “butter”, but surprisingly this is the first product that I’ve seen incorporate it for a commercial butter alternative.
If you are looking for a pure coconut product, then straight coconut butter is what you are seeking, but for a more direct margarine and butter alternative that is versatile in recipes, this Earth Balance spread is tops. The flavor of Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread is pleasant, lightly salted, fairly rich, and relatively mellow. It is just a little bit different from the other margarines in taste, but it is hard to describe why, so I suggest giving it a test for yourself.
Also, coconut oil on its own is solid when chilled, but Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread is a softer oil blend of organic extra virgin coconut oil, refined organic coconut oil, organic palm fruit oil, and canola oil. Even with the canola oil, you an see in the picture above that it still doesn’t scoop as smoothly as other tub margarines when cold. But once it warms up, this spread is actually softer than butter or margarine. When I used a hand mixer to make cookie dough, the dough quickly became “whipped” – still scoopable, but much creamier and softer than I expected from cookie dough. When needed, a quick chill in the fridge firms it right back up!
And yes, it works brilliantly in recipes. These Vegan and Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies baked up beautifully and were loved by all…
For a savory test, I dolloped the Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread on these Roasted Carrots and Parsnips once cooked. My husband DEVOURED them and is now a converted carrot and parsnip fan.
Unlike the Coconut Spread, the key ingredients in this culinary spread are palm oil followed by soy oil. Yes, unfortunately for those of you with soy allergies, these next two culinary spreads do contain soy! They are organic and non-GMO, but I was still surprised that Earth Balance didn’t stick with their coconut formula.
However, the Sweet Cinnamon culinary spread tastes amazing! It has a darker brown hue thanks to the generous infusion of cinnamon and is surprisingly sweet, even though there are just 3 grams of sugars in a tablespoon. We never got the chance to trial it in recipes, as my niece Kylie sequestered it for her homemade whole wheat bread. She had it on toast nearly every day until the entire tub had vanished, and proclaimed that she would be harassing me for more.
When tasted straight, this Earth Balance Organic spread has an intense, slightly salty, garlic flavor with generous flecks of herbs. But when trialed as a finishing touch on rice, the flavor melted away, leaving us with a bigger craving for garlic. It was also too mellow on corn, but we found that it did shine on toast! It made delicious garlic bread with ease.
I had mixed feelings about it on popcorn. The flavor was divine, but because it melts more like butter, it was a little gloppy for drizzling. Straight coconut oil tends to disperse better. But, because it is more “butter-like” in consistency, I think it could work quite well in savory recipes that call for butter or margarine. Consistency-wise, this is also the softest and most spreadable of the culinary spread lot.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, the Earth Balance Organic Culinary Spreads are vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, peanut-free, and tree nut-free. The coconut version is also soy-free. Nonetheless, check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.
For More Product Information: Visit the Follow Your Heart website at www.earthbalancenatural.com.