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Best Butter- European or American ? [Moved from The Best board]

Whee to find it?

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  1. European by a long way. I love the Kerrygold that Trader Joe's sells. TJ's also sells a 'European style' butter, never tried it or paid it much attention but they do carry it.

    European is a lot more creamy in taste and texture.

    1. Whole Paycheck... ahem, Whole Foods - that always-growing, market-controlling monopoly, carries lots of good euro-style (higher-fat) butter. My standard is Lurpak from Denmark. I also like Vermont Butter & Cheese (they have a couple of grades). You could buy one of each kind they have and see which one you like. Then, do as I do, and keep an eye out for some place cheaper to buy the brand you like. My local grocery chain had a bunch of Lurpak salted for $2.89 per 1/2 lb - that's normally $3.95 at WP. Rip-off deluxe - I would never, ever shop there - and I would certainly never recommend them to a friend or here at CH, but like I said, they're a monopoly - there's nobody else.

      4 Replies
      1. re: applehome

        European by a long shot...Much better...Whole Foods or any gourmet food store

        1. re: jinet12

          European, I agree ... is it because it's a bit saltier? When I moved here, I had a hard time with "lightly salted" American brands and assumed that was probably why.

        2. re: applehome

          Another vote for Lurpak. I first encountered this butter in Italy of all places. Was thrilled to finally find it here in L.A. European butter is far superior.

          1. re: applehome

            I agree 100% percent, Wholefoods is the biggest ripe-off! Unfortunately, some great foods are available exclusively to Wholefoods, which limits me to paying their ridiculous, high prices. It would be nice to have some of these items at different markets.

          2. European butters are often spoiled by the time they get here, even at the best stores (e.g., Zabars).

            For richness and smoothness, there's nothing like the 86% butterfat stuff from Vermont Butter & Cheese. For taste, I actually prefer Buerremont 83%. Zabars has both.

            1 Reply
            1. re: KRS

              Some European butters are cultured/aged in the same way cream cheese might be. I think that this is supposed to be part of the charm. I think that this and the butterfact content are the real difference in butters. If you are buying an 86% fat American butter, I think it will be as delightful as any European import.

            2. Even Costco sells Kerrygold 3 pack, great value. The best: Double Devon Cream Butter available at speciality shops, is hand patted I believe. Rich velvety slightly sweet flavor. Great with TJ crumpets.

              4 Replies
              1. re: sdft

                Love the Kerrygold, too...thanks for the costco tip

                1. re: sdft

                  I second the Double Devon Cream... it's great but I have trouble finding a way to keep the round package steady.

                  1. re: jim1126

                    Cut it in half down the middle so you have a "flat end".

                  2. re: sdft

                    Yes, Devon Double Cream Butter gets my vote as the very best too!

                    Believe it or not, my local Costco at one time carried it once in a two-pack! (I can't even get it at the local British food stores, and yet they had it at my Costco! Unfortunately it was there just once, never to return again...)

                  3. European style.
                    As to where, it depends on where you are apparently.
                    If you're in NYC, then Fairway would be the least expensive place for Luprak, Kerrygold, Celles sur Belles, Beurre D'Isigny, Kate's from Maine, (not sure if they have Vermont Butter and Cheese)..etc.

                    The Whole Foods at Columbus Circle location has non of the non-American selections.(i guess different locations may carry different items?) They do have Ronnybrook (whose heavy creme I love, but whose butter has not been anything special, strangely enough), and Strauss, which is really expensive, but also lacked any flavors.

                    Zabars has a lot of the European brands, more than Fairway, but pricier. Also, the one time I splurged and got the Devon Creme butter..it was moldy..$6 dollars down the drain. I didn't return.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: HLing

                      Horizon Organic... Inexpensive and available almost anywhere...

                      1. re: roux42

                        unfortunately, I've had not so good experiences with Horizon Organic, and I think also the Organic Valley brands. Something in there makes me break out, sort of like being a teenager again...It makes me wonder what part of their "organic"-ness is contributing to this...That's just me, though. I haven't heard anyone else complain.

                      2. re: HLing

                        Kerrygold Irish is the best!!! (whole foods or costco)

                      3. We've done side-by-side taste tests of numerous butters. We always end up preferring a European-style, unsalted, cultured butter. Trader Joe's sells Plugras in a red wrapper at a very reasonable price. We tested it against much more expensive butters (including another Plugras variety from a gourmet market) and still like it better. Having said all this, I believe this is another one of those very personal taste issues. But I have noted that Plugras in the red wrapper is used on Iron Chef.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rexsreine

                          I have been using the Plugras (in the red wrapper) and I think that its great. Its rich, creamy, yum. I bought mine at the Fairway in the in the 70s but its probably cheaper at Trader Joes. I hadn't notice that it was used on Iron Chef. . .

                          1. re: rexsreine

                            I like Plugra, mostly for cooking and baking, but I believe that it is a sweet cream butter, not cultured. For spreading, nothing beats Kate's unsalted.

                          2. A few months ago, my wife and I did a butter tasting. We assembled every European butter we could find from Whole Foods, Fresh Direct, and our local market. Sorry, but in our opinion local butters just don't compare.

                            After each of us doing a blind tasting, we both preferred Pamplie AOC designated Charentes. My second choice was Lurpak while my wife's was Plugra.

                            As for the poster who commented that many European butters were spoiled by the time they arrived here, I've never had that experience.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: mahalan

                              french demi sel butter - creamy with flakes of sea salt - unbelievably good on a piece of really good bread. we rented a place in france a few years back and i was going wild just eating it with anything that remotely called for butter. was with my husband and his brit posse and they were putting it on bread and then putting pate on top of it and making sandwiches. was sinful as hell, but heavenly! have sought it ought on every french trip since then - and was thrilled when a wegman's opened near me and had it! it's mad expensive but so worth it - not for cooking in bulk - just for spreading and sometimes finishing a sauce.

                              1. re: potterstreet

                                Staring nostalgically at a wrapper of Président Le Marin butter with Sel de Guerrand. Yes, just spread on a baguette is enough. Wonder where to find it.

                                1. re: potterstreet

                                  Does Wegman do mail orders? The nearest is 40 miles.

                                2. re: mahalan

                                  When you say American butters just don't compare, but your wife likes Plugra, you do know that Plugra is American, right?

                                  1. re: mahalan

                                    Where the heck are you? butter varies dramatically in quality across America!

                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                      Really? What's the best geographic area to buy butter?

                                      1. re: menton1

                                        Pennsylvania makes fantastic butter (particularly near hershey, Lancaster NOT near pittsburgh.) I haven't been everywhere else, naturally, but I'd figure Wisconsin and other places known for good milk would have good quality butter too.

                                        1. re: menton1

                                          Kate's Butter, from Maine, is a good US butter not generally available.

                                    2. We bounce around between Plugra from TJ, Kate's of Maine from soon to be defunct Wild Oats, and Cabot from VT found everywhere it seems. We buy both salted and "sweet."

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Gio

                                        Actually, that's a common misperception: "sweet" doesn't have anything to do with whether butter is unsalted or not. "Sweet" is the opposite of "cultured" -- while very few American butters are cultured (love the cultured butter from the Vermont Butter & Cheese Co.), it's common in Europe.

                                      2. Try Lesecure with sea salt. It comes plain as well. I get it at Ideal Cheese but am sure I have seen it at other places.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: MellieMac

                                          Many Mexican supermarkets sell butters from several countries. During a stay there, near the town of Chapala, I had a chance to try local butter from Mexico, as well as butter from the U.S., Denmark and New Zealand. Personally, I found the New Zealand butter to be the best.

                                        2. CI recently tested butter and preferred the Land O'Lakes Ultra Creamy, but I've never seen that in stores, so can't say from personal experience. I like the Kerrygold for premium applications.

                                          1. Recently bought President salted butter at TJ's. It's imported from France and, according to the packaging, is made in the Normandy region which is considered to be the grand cru of European dairy regions. While it was perfectly good butter, it didn't blow me away the way I thought it would.

                                            Had lunch at Per Se in NYC and we were given two different American butters, one salted and one not, and they were heavenly. 'Course it could've been the posh surroundings and and hefty price tag that influenced my taste buds too!

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: lynnlato

                                              I'm wondering if the President butter has changed in the past couple of years. I used to swear by the stuff and the packages I have bought at different times in the past year seem to lack the flavor it used to have. I have been somewhat disappointed in it.

                                              1. re: lynnlato

                                                President is nothing special - it's a common supermarket brand in France and you can get it easily in Britain too. It's about a pound for 500g, so not a premium product.

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  I'm not able to make a comparision as I don't believe I've ever seen American butter on sale in the UK.

                                                  Whilst agreeing with greedygirl about President being commonly available here, I'm struggling to think what brand we Brits might consider to be a premium brand - Kerrygold and Lurpak (as mentioned upthread) are even more run-of -the-mill.

                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                    They might be run-of-the-mill for you in the U.K., but for many in the States, President, Kerrygold, and Lurpak are all (mostly) still light years ahead of American butters. There are a few as have been stated above that are very good - I particularly like Kate's Homemade and Vermont Butter & Cheese.

                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                      "Kerrygold and Lurpak (as mentioned upthread) are even more run-of-the-mill"

                                                      A very good friend from Ireland, now residing in the US, prefers American butters to the Kerrygold I purchase especially for her.

                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                        Could be the novelty factor - I prefer Kerrygold to any American butter I''ve tasted, my Russian-born wife prefers Kate's.

                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                          "could be the novelty factor'

                                                          I'm sure you're right. She and others from Ireland don't like going to the pubs here either. They prefer hitting the clubs with Salsa dancing.

                                                      2. re: Harters

                                                        I like the French butter with sea salt chrystals (available in Waitrose).

                                                  2. In the 58+ years i have been alive I have been to 22 different countries. I've lived in the NYC area, Houston, and many other places. I have visited most states.

                                                    I recently moved back to the west coast

                                                    This is the best butter that I have ever tasted and used for baking.

                                                    1. This is an amazing string, given that--with the always welcome exception of Ruth Lafler--no one is talking about what criterion/criteria make butter better or worse or in between. Simply talking about fat content doesn't tell me anything. I've tried everything that Whole Foods has to offer, for example, and can't get excited about any of them. I'd like to believe the distinction between "cultured" and whatever makes a difference, but haven't seen it. I can recall the butter my mother made from home-grown cream (we had a cow) by shaking cream in a mason jar. At the time I didn't like it because it had a kind of tang distinct from the flavorless commercial butter--but wish now I could have something like that.

                                                      As an example of what I'd like--I recall that when Jacobs Brothers bagels in Chicago first started out (early 90's), they had a cream cheese that was yellow, tangy, perhaps even had a smell. It was marvelous Within a year that was gone, replaced by an ultra-fat tasteless goo indistinguishable from any other cream cheese.

                                                      Please, people, all these assertions about this-brand-is-great-that-brand-is-better don't cut it. What's good about what's good?

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: Masonville

                                                        Another factor in the difference between the home-produced butter you remember and modern commercial butter is the milk it was made from. Just as grass-fed beef tastes different from grain-fed beef, milk from pastured cows tastes different than milk generated by large-scale commercial dairy facilities.

                                                        But as for "what's good about what's good" -- to some extent that's a matter of taste. Some people prefer a really sweet, clean tasting butter, but some people might consider it bland; some people prefer a more cheesey, tangy butter, while some people might find those cheesey flavors to be a negative.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          Sorry for the late response, Ruth, but what's your pick for a cheesy, tangy butter? Or do you nost like this style?

                                                          1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                            I'm actually not crazy about the style. It can be good just on bread, but if it tastes too much like cheese it alters the flavor of the food you cook with it, and not always in a good way. I guess I'd say that it's a "finishing" butter but not a cooking butter. A good example of the style is the Parmigiano–Reggiano Butter that seems to be available nationwide (I bought it at Whole Foods, although that was a while back).

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              I appreciate the difference between evaluating butter for cooking and for bread and butter. Even for the latter, I guess I like the “sweet cream” style, like Plugra. I’ve tried the Delitia Parmigiano Reggiano Butter, and agree about its cheeseyness. It wasn’t love at first taste. Thanks for your response, Ruth.

                                                              1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                                Speaking of the Delitia butter, I noticed the other day that they now have a Buffalo milk butter. I'll have to try it next time I'm out shopping for fancy butter (right now I'm really enjoying the Buerre de Chimay butter from Belgium, which I buy for about half the price of the Delitia).

                                                      2. Kate's Sea salted butter made in Maine

                                                        1. I love Kerrygold, especially for baking because it softens quickly, however, there is one thing about all European butters (or European style butters) that DRIVES ME NUTS. They don't come in quarters. If I need a half pound or quarter pound, I don't want to be messing with trying to even cut a one-pound block of butter.

                                                          I'm a little afraid to try "cultured" butter because I don't like tangy dairy products in general. I get exactly what I need from Kate's. It taste smooth and sweet and it comes in sticks.

                                                          I have become a bit of a butter snob though because the common supermarket brands taste a little "off" to me now.

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                            Interesting about the weight, as butter in the UK is always sold in half pound packs (actually 250g)

                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                              You must have differently-shaped butter dishes than us, then - standard US butter dishes are sized to hold a 1/4 lb stick. I have to cut my Kerrygold in half to fit it in.

                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                I'm sure some social historian out there will know for certain, but I have a feeling that what we commonly think of as a butter dish was probably the invention of a refrigerator manufacturer some time in the middle 20th century. I havent looked in that many REALLY old refrigerators or ice boxes, but I dont recall them having a butter compartment requiring a specially-sized dish.] Europeans, seeing no need for a special dish for butter, might have just used a plate on a shelf in a fridge, or even just kept it covered on a countertop. Thus, European butter will often come in half-pound blocks or logs rather than the quarter-pound stick we are used to.

                                                                [This is all just a guess on my part, but I seem to recall that refrigerators in the home didnt start to become common in Europe until after WWII. Does anyone know if this is correct?]

                                                                1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                  UK butter dishes held a half pound (454gm). After Europeanisation the standard became a half kilo. Still fitted in the same dish. We didn't have a fridge until I was 14-ish. We had an earthenware butter dish that you but water in. The evaporation kept it cool. (So did the climate). When I first saw a NA butter dish it looked decidedly wimpy.

                                                                  In terms of where the best butter comes from ... Normandy. That's hard to admit being British.

                                                                  1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                    only 46grams difference,should fit good

                                                                  2. re: Fydeaux

                                                                    Back in the last century (way back), butter came in pound blocks. We regarded the quarter pound stick asan effete modern contrivance.

                                                                    1. re: sr44

                                                                      Some butter, even American butter can still be purchased in pound blocks, and as I have recently acquired a 'butter bell', I have no problem with this. For measuring more precise amounts of butter for cooking purposes, no doubt this effete modern contrivance is something of a help.

                                                                      No doubt, to people who ever bought their butter from a guy pulling a cart through the village who would scoop it out of the churn into your own container, being able to buy butter in a one pound block would be a contrivance equally effete and modern.

                                                                      Like they say, nostalgia aint what it used to be, and it probably never was.

                                                                  3. re: BobB

                                                                    Homer Laughlin China used to make 1/2 lb covered butter dishes with several of their lines of dishes in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. I collect vintage colourware and have several of them. They still work just as good as when they were new and Kerrygold has no problem fitting in them.

                                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                                      Solved my problem with a Luminarc butter dish:

                                                                2. Bumping this thread in hopes that someone knows ANYWHERE in the US where Le Beurre Bordier can be bought?

                                                                  That's no. 1 on my butter wish list.

                                                                  fwiw, I know Echire also from France has many fans and I've noticed it has become more widely available in the US. In NYC, I've seen it at Food Emporium as well as Dean & DeLuca.

                                                                  At the recent Fancy Food Show I tasted what is a butter is from Belgium (made w/sea salt from Normandy) that was AMAZING.

                                                                  Sadly, its name escapes me but if anyone has a clue what it might be , please let me know.

                                                                  1. If you can find it, Pamplie is amazing. I get it at Central Market in Dallas. When baking, European is definitely the way to go. Or eating fine breads. It's got a lot more fat, so I only reserve it for special occasions.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jindomommy

                                                                      What's "a lot more fat"? The labels I read show only about 10% more, 10g/serving for regular sweet cream butter, 11g/serving for the European butters.

                                                                      1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                        Standard American butter is 80 percent butterfat. Premium butters are generally between 82 and 86 percent butterfat. You're right that isn't a lot; however, what it's replacing is mostly water (butter is fat, milk solids and water), so it may have less ten percent more fat, but it might have 50 percent less water.

                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                          In an ATK recipe for French butter cookies, this 20% water was a important part of the recipe. They want just water in the dough to dissolve most, but not all of the sugar (thus leaving some crunch). The only sources of water were the butter and one egg yolk. They reduced the amount of butter a bit, and used a hard boiled yolk (which locked up its water), to get the right sugar to water ratio.

                                                                          I've also seen the fat to water ratio discussed in connection with making a Hollandaise, which is an emulsion of water and butterfat.

                                                                    2. I can't believe with all these posts no one has mentioned Beurre d'Isigny from Normandy. Kerry Gold is good, North American premium butters are ok. But this stuff is heaven http://www.isigny-ste-mere.com/index_...

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: CountZeroZero

                                                                        Wow! No one's mentioned Beurre d'Isigny until Count00? I couldn't agree more...I get it at Grace's Marketplace in NYC. Heaven is right. So is paradise. Slather it on a baked potato...cold knob of Beurre d'Isigny on hot potato...food simply does not get more sublime.

                                                                      2. So what do people think about organic butters...I see Ina Garten and some other famous cooks using it on the show..though i don't know if it means anything since they probably don't go shopping themselves.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Monica

                                                                          The Organic Butter at Trader Joe's is fairly tasteless. The best butter I've ever had is the AOC Baratte Normandy butter. Brands are Isigny and Echiré. I've heard that Lurpak Danish butter is damn good as well. Very addicting, very rich. Fairway has them both.

                                                                        2. don't forget south american butters. argentina and chile make some of the best. my favorite is Chilolac (chile): creamy, rich, salty, deeply buttery. i haven't seen it for sale outside of south america, sadly, but perhaps latin food shops may carry it.

                                                                          1. I prefer the European butter. Here in Mexico I buy Lurpak (unsalted); when I lived on the Geman-Polish border, I bought Polish butter. I only buy unsalted butter. The European butter is richer and has better flavor than the American butter. I think the reason European butter doesn't come in quarters is that European recipes, i.e. German recipes in German, measure butter in grams not cups or half-cup, quarter cup, etc.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: RevImmigrant

                                                                              Lurpak is my favorite widely available butter.

                                                                              On a recent trip to London, I was thrilled to find Bordier butter in the food dept at Fortnum & Mason. I brought a few bars back home to NYC and have yet to decide whether I prefer it to Pascal Bellavaire's butter.

                                                                            2. I have just been introduced to European butter. For weeks, I have been obsessed with Kerrygold but decided to branch out last week. I picked up both Plugra and Lurpak. I couldn't decide which to use of course, but went with several pats of Lurpak on grass fed NY strip steak and it was incredible! It was a different flavor than the Kerrygold and I think both are fabulous. I look forward to trying the Plugra soon.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                To repeat what I said above, Plugra is not European. It's a European-style butter produced in the US.

                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                  Yes, I know it's American, I apologize if I mispoke.

                                                                              2. Icelandic butter is my favorite. It was the one bright spot on the otherwise dismal meal served on Icelandair. Bought some in the supermarket there and almost managed to eat it all in one weekend.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Kat

                                                                                  Wow, big baking fest? What in particular do you like about them (if it's possible to describe)?

                                                                                2. I like most any French butter, cultured or uncultured, and I enjoy Lurpak, Kerrygold and most of the other readily available "gourmet" butters in the US. However, my most favorite butter for eating on bread is Anchor butter from New Zealand. It is a deep golden color and has an amazingly rich, almost elastic mouthfeel. It can be hard to find but is well worth seeking out - and as a bonus, it's usually about half the price of the French stuff.

                                                                                  For baking I generally use Land o' Lakes - if I were making croissants, or something else where the butter is the star, I would upgrade, but for most baked goods I find that Land o' Lakes gives consistently good results.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                    I have a freezer full of the Anchor, both salted and unsalted. I stock up when it's periodically available at Grocery Outlet for $1.49 for 8 ounces.

                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                      Grocery Outlet is a West coast chain, right? I'm in NYC, so no luck for me. It's usually around $6 a pound here, though - not cheap, but not terrible, and SO worth it.

                                                                                  2. Anyone know where to find Smjor? I have access to Safeway, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, Wegman's. I imagine it would be at Wegman's but it's 30 miles away and have not checked.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                      I know I've seen it at Whole Foods.

                                                                                    2. If you cannot get Lurpac or New Zealand butter, fresh sweet Cornish butter has to be the best anywhere. I miss baking with that so much. It actually makes one look good. Pastry is amazing made with Cornish butter and 50% lard.Light and flakey all the way. My pastry isnt half as good as it used to be when I baked in the UK

                                                                                      1. Anyone find Kerrygold butter to have a non-pleasing greasy/oily mouth feel? I know it's butter but compared to the other varieties I've tried it seems to leave an unpleasant greasy feel on my lips.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                          I have never experienced this with any of Kerry Gold's varieties.

                                                                                          1. re: Fydeaux

                                                                                            Hmm, yea I haven't heard that experience from anyone else. I have posted a few pictures. Steak 1 (larger pool) is with Kerrygold. It just seemed to melt all over the place and be very greasy vs. Steak 2 with Plugra which seemed to just melt beautifully on the steak.

                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                              Which Kerrygold was this, regular, or the reduced fat spread?

                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                This was the reduced fat, hence I think all of the water spread? Perhaps also with the additional water the butter is less of an emulsion and so the butterfat solids are more apparent thus making it feel greasy when the water melts away

                                                                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                  "Reduced fat spread" is not "butter"!

                                                                                        2. I am now a Plugra convert!! Kerrygold was my first foray into European-style butter and I have been a diehard fan for a while now. This thread motivated me to broaden my horizons and so I picked up 1/2 lb of Plugra and Lurpak. The Lurpak was OK, just butter to me. However, the Plugra is fantastic! I love that you can't really describe why but it has just been great in everything I've used it in. Last night it elevated my Sunday night grilled cheese sandwich-the BEST grilled cheese ever made in my kitchen at least. I am very excited to use it for roasted garlic butter to be spread liberally on King's Hawaiian rolls and cornbread items this Thanksgiving!