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What is Plugra and where can you get it?

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  1. It's an 82.5% butterfat butter and it's at any Whole Foods. An alternative is Cabot 83. If it's called for in a specific recipe you have, it's not necessary. The author wants to sound sophisticated.

    1. We buy Plugra brand butter at our very local Trader Joe's.

      Because it has a higher butter fat content and a lower melting point than most butters it literally melts in your mouth, It's just a really very tasty butter even tho it's made with no salt. . You must try it for yourself to see. Good for baking too.

      1. Trader Joe's. It's like $8 at my WF.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jaykayen

          Saw it at TJ's today - 3.99/lb.

          1. re: Sarah

            fairway in nyc also sells it sometimes for less than 3.990ib. its great to base turkey with and adds a really great flavor when mixed with roasted garlic, a little salt and pepper.

        2. I've seen it at Super Target for the same price as Trader Joe's.

          1. I've found it at Sam's for $6.00 or so. I like the way it tastes, too.

            1. Many supermarkets carry it. I know Shoprite, Morton Williams, and some Key Foods, sell it. I've seen it for as low as $4.99 around prime baking seasons.

              1. Plugrà was the original US made Euro-fat butter, made in the Euro-style from cultured milk, in the 80's by OATKA, a cooperative in upstate NY initially to satisfy the NYC Restaurant trade and keep them from having to import large amounts of butter from Europe. It was sold off to Keller's Creamery (headquartered in PA), who has since made it in Texas. It is still a very good euro-style butter, but no longer held in the same esteem that it once was professionally.

                The same cooperative in upstate NY started making Crèmdoré, which along with some other companies that make this style of butter are considered to be significantly better. However - Plugra remains cheaper. For home use, Plugra is an excellent choice - especially if you get it at Trader Joe's prices, rather than Whole Foods.

                Aside from Crèmdoré, the truly excellent US made Euro-butters that keep winning butter taste-offs and get chefs recommendations include Beurremont (distributed by a NJ company, but made in New England), Smith Creamery (LA), Organic Valley (WI) (not their normal sweet cream butter, but specifically their Euro-style cultured butter), and Vermont Butter & Cheese Co..

                Of course, many people still like the imports. I just got so used to Lurpak, a very commercial brand available all over Europe, while living in Germany for 3 years, that it's still my standard. Many French restaurants still import theirs from Normandy - there is a particular taste to those butters and a tradition of using sea salt in the salted ones.

                Whatever you try, you will almost immediately see, taste, and feel the difference in the euro-style from US butters. No matter how good US butters can be, Euro-style is a step up in everything you expect a butter to be, including fat content. That's life...

                7 Replies
                1. re: applehome

                  If anyone needs a judge for that "butter taste-off" you mentioned, I'm available!

                  1. re: Chowpatty

                    Yeah - those folks at ATK, Saveur, Cuisine-at-home and Rosengarten's Reports have all the fun. Comes under the heading of nice gig if you can get it. I haven't done a real taste-off myself, but I have had several brands in the house at the same, and tried them all on pieces of baguette, next to each other. I didn't bother to try a blind test - maybe I'll do that head to head some other time. I had Plugra unsalted, Lurpak salted and unsalted, Vermont B&C, Kerrygold, as well as some US style butters including Horizon and Kate's from Maine.

                    The first thing that's absolutely obvious is the difference between US and Euro styles. Salted vs. unsalted is obvious as well - unsalted is good for cooking, but not by itself. I decided that I still liked Lurpak best - and I'll keep getting it when I can afford it. It's cheapest at Market Basket at $2.89/ 1/2lb when they have it - it can be as much as $4.95 at Whole Foods. Of the US butters, I liked Horizon best, but it's as expensive as the Lurpak. Plugra unsalted at TJ's is very reasonable, but they don't sell the salted anywhere but Whole Foods, which, of course, prices it the same as the imports. I salted the Plugra as I put it on the bread for tasting - I'd say that worked out ok. I still liked Lurpak better. Kate's is a good compromise for US butter - about a buck cheaper than Horizon, and still tastes a whole lot better than the commercial butters (Land of the Lakes/Cabot - regular). Vermont B&C is incredibly good. Too bad Whole Paycheck sells them for close to $7.00/ 1/2 lb. It's cheaper direct mail, but not by much with the postage added - especially if you live outside of New England where they will only fedex overnight.

                    Kerrygold reminded me of the French Presidente (which I've bought at other times) - not my favorites, almost more creamy than buttery, like having clotted cream. But that's just me - in fact - this is all just me. I think it's pretty personal, regardless of what anybody says, you're going to have to find the one you like the best for yourself. Just remember that the euro butters, with fat in the 82-84 % range and made from cultured butter are a whole different class of butter than the regular US ones.

                  2. re: applehome

                    Is all Plugra higher fat? The nutritional information on the Plugra at TJ's has, IIRC, the same butterfat levels as regular American butter. That's true of a number of chic-butters, while others do reflect the higher fat content in their nutriitonal info.

                    1. re: Karl S

                      I haven't seen any but the two kinds of Plugra, salted and unsalted - although there is different packaging - the unsalted comes in the "commercial" 1 lb block at TJ in red wax paper, while the fancy versions (both s and u) come in foil paper in 1/2 lb blocks at WF. AFAIK/CT it's the same product, although butter ages differently in wax paper and when sealed up in foil. Cultured butter (see below) continues to mature, developing a "cheesy" flavor with age - some people like this, some not. If you like it, buy the wax paper. If you don't, and intend for the butter to sit around for a while (or to be frozen), buy the foil or re-wrap the wax paper stuff.

                      Insofar as Plugra was created to the standards of higher fat content for NYC chefs, I would think that it's still that way - but since moving the production to Texas, who knows. All kinds of strange things happen down there. I don't have a package here now, but will check the next time I'm at TJ (soon - I'm running out of Plugra!).

                      The other difference, other than butterfat%, of these euro-butters is that they are made from cultured cream instead of sweet cream. Sweet cream isn't sweetened or anything - it's just called that. Cultured cream is matured cream, allowed to age a bit after adding bacteria (lactobacilli) that gives the butter a rounder, deeper, fuller flavor. According to Rosengarten, butter was always made this way, until the industrial boom after WWII. Butter producers in the US dropped the culturing ways and Madison ave. came up with the moniker of "sweet-cream" for the blander product. Just makes you proud to be an American all over again.

                      1. re: applehome

                        Cultured butter is far from universal preference in Europe, IIRC.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          I never saw anything else but cultured butter in Germany, either in the ma and pa stores or in the one supermarket that was in the area - this is back in the '70's. It could be different now, and of course, other places may be different altogether. The well-known butters from Normandy (Isigny Ste. Mere, Le Gall, even the Presidente we can get everywhere around here) are always cultured.

                          As to fat % - you have to remember that all butter is from 80% to 88% fat, the rest being mainly water and about 2% milk solids. In the US, you can't sell anything as butter that is less than 80% fat, and you can't get less than 10% water, so 88% fat is considered the theoretical max, although according to Rosengarten, even 86% is pretty rare. The difference between 80% and 84% is a whole world of taste and texture - but this won't show on a standard Nutrition Facts form.

                          If you show a serving as 14g, then 80% is 11.2g and 84% is 11.48g - both will round down as 11g, as there are no decimal points. 86% should show as 12g, (actually 12.2g), but I don't have any of those butters in front of me right now to check. The Plugra I just got at TJ's shows 11g fat, as does the Horizon and Land of Lakes in the fridge. But I do believe that the Plugra is several % higher. It doesn't say on the commercial red wrapper - but it probably does on the foil ones.

                          The small amount of higher % fat makes a tremendous difference in taste and the cooking, as Chowser mentions below. The richness, without greasiness comes through just spread on bread. And when cooking, the silkiness of great sauces made with high butterfat butter is clearly evident.

                          Obviously, there is a question of getting used to something. Better is subjective. But I'd tell anyone that it's worth a shot to try these for yourself.

                    2. re: applehome

                      One thing with using higher fat butter, if you bake, is that the extra fat can affect the final product. Using plugra for cookies can result in flat cookies. I play with it by slighly increasing flour, or decreasing the amount of plugra but haven't found a direct substitution amount (eg 1 cup plugra+1 tsp flour=1 cup regular butter; 1 c butter=7 tbsp plugra), and can't find anything online. Does anyone know?

                    3. I've been buying from Smith Creamery for some time now ( http://www.smithcreamery.com/ ) . We really love their butter. Their prices are reasonable, but the shipping really pushes the price up.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: UnConundrum

                        Wow, here's something else for my 'must try list'. Butterier butter?

                        I have also been told that TJ's frozen veggies are better than most, so they're both on my list. Hopefully I can walk away from their spoonable out of this world creamy peanut butter.


                        1. re: dolores

                          I hope you can resist chocolate. And Cheese - not necessarily a fantastic selection, but a good one, and well priced. And do stay away from the meats - Tri-tips plain and sc marinated, kalbi. Decent baked goods - their sprouted multi-grain breads are good (but expensive). Good cheap wines (famous for 2-buck chuck). And nuts. Lotsa nuts. Cheap senbei.

                          Just stay away. You won't be tempted. ;-)

                          1. re: applehome

                            Tri-tip! I've been wanting to try one of them for awhile now...more for my list -- thanks, applehome.

                            Sadly, they don't have wines (not that I know of anyway) in the one near me - they don't even have the really good margarita mix that I have read about, it's only in the NYC store.

                            But oh that PB -- have you tried it, applehome? As you said, walk away...... :O)

                            1. re: dolores

                              We have had their peanut butter - creamy as well as chunky. They're very good. They used to have a terrific peanut sauce for satay and SE Asian spring rolls, but they quit selling that.

                              I just got back and bought a small chunk of a TJ branded cheese called Cow-chego. It's from Wisconsin, says it's aged 6 months. This is a terrific cheese - obviously a lot like a manchego, but the coating on the outside is different - some paprika and cinnamon. It is delicious. I'm afraid it's not going to last long enough to share with anyone - they'll just have to take my word for it.

                      2. What drives me crazy about Plugra and other fancy butters is that they aren't packaged in quarters. I like having my sticks. I don't like having to try to make even cuts.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Avalondaughter

                          Maybe it was this thread? But I got the last Plugra on the shelf this morning at TJ's.

                          applehome, I had the store clerk searching for cowchego -- it was new to her. She found it, I bought it. Of course, I had to stock up on a few more items. Nice that they give away coffee and slices of cake, S&S doesn't bother doing that.

                          Best of all, I managed to walk away from the PB, which was calling my name AND was on sale. Oh well.

                          Nice store.

                        2. No one has mentioned that Land O'Lakes made a product called "Ultra Creamy" butter that was 83-84% butterfat. I haven't seen it in a while, but I believe that the New York Times picked this as one of their top choices in one of their butter "taste offs."