butter is and always was my all time favorite. remember when butter was considered “bad” and margarine was “good?” well, that was never the case for me . when i moved to new york about 10 years ago, it was really hard to find good butter. in my opinion and in the risk of sounding smug or offensive american commercial butter does not really have the taste and complexity of even the most simple european butter, which has a distinctive tang and nuttiness to it. after some research i discovered that the main reason for the lack in flavor is the butterfat; american butter contains at least 80 percent, while the minimum for french butter is 82 percent. 2% might sound low but it's enough to alter the taste. butterfat content directly affects the flavor, texture and workability. every little bit of fat counts, take milk for example. though butterfat is important there are two important factors that affect flavor; the first is the cream - its flavor depends on the type of cows and their diet. the second is culturing - cultured butter is not common in the united states and in order to get cultured butter, a natural culture is added to the cream and beings to ferment for about 18 hours before it is churned.

in the last few years, european butter has become more common in new
york, particularly in specialty stores, and i was happy to add an extra buck or two in order to get my hand on them. while researching about butter (i wanted to create a cultured butter at home) i decided to test and compare the following brands: three european butters: "beurre d'echire," "president" and "lurpak," and two american butter brands: "vermont cheese and butter" and "horizon" organic butter. off the bat, the "horizon" organic butter from colorado was my least favorite, it just had a fatty bland taste. the 3 european butters tasted very different from one another. the "beurre d'echire," cultured butter from the village of échiré in western france with 84% butterfat, was smooth, fatty, felt very "upscale" and delicate, i can understand why chefs like to use it in their baking. "president," from the normandy region in france had a very good and mild taste. the danish butter "lurpak," my favorite out of the 3 european samples, was wonderful and went perfectly spread on bread. the biggest surprise was the "vermont cheese and butter," with 86% butterfat it just tasted superb and to top that came in very nice packaging. it had rich flavor, not too slaty and tasted very "fresh." I felt it was made just for me a few hours ago. hmm... so i guess i was a bit too harsh on the ol' us of a. vermont butter, a big win for the red white and blue.


Michal said...

wow, i never even though of butter that way! i'll pay more attention next time i'm cooking.

sarit said...

for the best experience of butter i would spread it on a fresh slice of bread. in cooking you loose its original flavor. i personally try the butter as is without even the bread, but i think that might be a bit too much on some.