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Plugra Butter is gone!

Sad news this week. Plugra Butter one of the best baking butters in my opinion, has been dropped from Trader's Joe's due to lack of sales.
That leaves a baker in Seattle with the same old choices.

Does anyone know of a good affordable no salt butter?

Jim

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  1. Have you tried to find another vendor in your area?

    http://www.kellerscreamery.com/our-br...

    Save Mart stores carry it and, if my memory serves me correctly, Save Mart is part of the Raley's chain so perhaps (if you don't have a Save Mart handy) you could get it through Raleys.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      Thanks for the link but no luck within 100 miles.

      I baked two batches of muffins this morning - one with some of my last Plugra and one with Darigold unsalted and I can clearly tell the difference.

      I've also emailed TJ's no reqest that they reconsider.

      Jim

    2. You could buy it online, although I don't know how much you've been paying at TJ's. This may or may not help.

      http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/prodvi...

      1. Doesn't Land o Lakes sort of work?There are also some butters from grass fed cows that they sell online, but they are really expensive. There is a thread on Chowhound that touts them.

        1. If you have any access to fine cheese, ask the person who does the ordering. often times if you are willing to buy a certain amount you can get a discount. Larger retailers probably wouldn't do that but smaller ones just might.

          1. I'm resisting the urge to complain about TJ's dropping items left and right...always due to 'lack of sales'.

            No more King Arthur flour, either. Boo.

            9 Replies
            1. re: jencounter

              I thought the KAF thing was b/c TJ's was focusing more on their own brands ... but yeah, I agree that the "lack of sales" excuse comes up a lot!

              1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                Yes, they're carrying their own brand now. It's funny, b/c it seems as though the TJ employees are under the impression that it's still KAF flour, just under the TJ label. Not so, according to KAF. I'm bummed because it was always $2-$3 less at TJ's than anywhere else.

                1. re: jencounter

                  So is it really that much different? I'm not picky when it comes to all purpose, but do like the KAF white whole wheat.

                  I've using the TJ brand no-salt butter for a long time, but don't do the sort of baking where a European style butter would matter.

                  1. re: paulj

                    European butter is not just for baking (in fact it's often lost in baking), it's awesome all by itself. Plugra is my favorite.

                    KAF has a slightly higher gluten content and seems to be more consistent from bag to bag unlike some other brands. It just tastes better too.

                    1. re: paulj

                      I'm not sure about the quality - when I read that they'd discontinued their contract with KAF, I bought a bunch (while they still had it and boy did they clear it out FAST) and am still going through it.

                      I was just there this week and saw that they carry both AP and white whole wheat under their name, just FYI.

                2. re: jencounter

                  Yeah! Plus, they lie. I was told on two separate occasions (sep by a year) that their stoneground wheat thins were being discontinued. A month later, there they were again. Another time I was told they weren't going to be carried anymore due to some problem with the distributor...again, there they were a few weeks later.

                  Jimster, you might get a reconsideration if you got some friends to shill for you and ask for Plugra.

                  I also love Plugra, and it's carried at my local TJs. I can get it elsewhere, though it's more expensive.

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    I know exactly what you're talking about. I was told last week that they no longer stock roasted and slated peacan halfs and low and behold - last night there they were.

                    They lack proper communication channels. I'll call them today at corporate and politely ask them to rethink they're decision - if in fact they made one.
                    Jim

                    1. re: oakjoan

                      Oakjoan, are you sure about this? Because they don't carry it at the Rockridge TJs anymore (or at least it hasn't been there the last two times I've been there). Is it still at Grand Lake?

                      1. re: JasmineG

                        Concurrent thread on Plugra and TJ's here, and where to find it now:
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/619444

                  2. I was going to recommend Jon's Market - I've seen it there - but then I realized you're in Seattle. What about Whole Foods or the like?

                    1. I can find Plugra in my Ralphs/Kroger. TJ's just had it cheaply.

                      1. Plugra has the same fat content as European butter, so European butter is an option, if you can't find Plugra from another source, and there's also cultured butter from Vermont, but that's often more costly than imported butter. Plugra is of course usually less expensive than the imports, but not always, at least in New York. Seattle may be a different story.

                        Butter isn't that hard to make from heavy cream, if you've got a stand mixer.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                          How good is the home made butter? From some place I got the impression that home made butter had quite a bit more moisture than commercial butter (even the usual USA stuff).

                          1. re: paulj

                            I haven't made it in years, but when we did (it was a big group effort, because we made it in quantity), we had farm fresh unpasteurized cream, and it was excellent.

                            The basic process was to whip the cream in a big Hobart mixer, and then start the kneading process in the mixer by switching to the flat paddle, and then we would go to hand kneading (the greater part of the group effort) to drive off more of the moisture. I don't know if the last stage could be mechanized by, say, switching to a dough hook or just continuing to mix with the flat paddle. I don't know what the final moisture content was, but I suppose you could figure it out by comparing the original volume of cream with known fat content (35% usually for heavy cream in the US) to the final volume of butter targeted toward the desired fat content (82% for European-style butter).

                        2. Jim,

                          Does Seattle have any Whole Foods stores? Chicago locations sell 1 lb. plugra butter for $3.99. I usually get 5-6 lbs. at a time, triple wrap in plastic, and store in the freezer. I'm amazed that the price hasn't changed in years.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Evil Ronnie

                            Yes, we have Whole Foods and I'll definitely give them a try.
                            Jim

                            1. re: Evil Ronnie

                              I don't think so. It's $3.99 for the retail, foil-wrapped 1/2 lb brick, not the 1 lb. The price hasn't changed in years because Whole Paycheck were (and still are) ripping people off from many years ago. That's why TJ's really 1 lb., wax paper wrapped restaurant packs for $3.69 are such a great deal.

                              In this area (Lowell MA) I can have my local supermarket chain, DeMoula's Market Basket, order certain euro-butters that are commonly carried by their suppliers. That includes Lurpak (my favorite) and KerryGold, both salted and unsalted. You don't have to buy a whole case - they'll put the remainder out on the shelf. Their prices are remarkably reasonable - $2.89 for the 1/2 lb brick. Other places that sell the same products (including Whole Foods and the fancy gourmet stores) charge up to twice as much. There was a mom&pop Lebanese grocery place that would do the same thing and the price was exactly the same - $2.89, so I'm pretty sure that it's something that is wholesaled and quite readily available.

                            2. If I can find a good selection of higher fat European butters here in the heartland (which I can), surely you have as many options in Seattle.

                                1. re: junglekitte

                                  I'm with you....Lurpak is the best tasting and so creamy!! My local market sells it 50 cents cheaper than Whole Foods...which works for me.

                                  1. re: junglekitte

                                    My favorite is Celles sur Belle as a table butter, but it's a bit expensive for baking. Lurpak usually is nice for baking.

                                    1. re: David A. Goldfarb

                                      Thanks! I'll have to look for that brand as I've never heard of it. Do you think I would find it at Fresh Market? I've been eating Lurpak since I was young and haven't found anything I like better, but I'm always looking.

                                      1. re: grouper

                                        I can find it in a few places around New York that might sell four or five kinds of imported butter, but I don't know how widely it's distributed elsewhere.

                                  2. TJs sells President, a french butter in NJ - not on the west coast?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                      No, it doesn't sell President on the West Coast. It does sell Kerry Gold.

                                      If you have a Whole Foods, check to see if they carry Jana Valley. It's great European butter, and it's not too expensive.

                                    2. I use Pastureland's unsalted organic grass fed butter. I'm pretty happy with it, and even with shipping, it's cheaper than many premium brands of butter. I have been told it is equal to or better than Plugra, but I've never tried Plugra so I don't know how accurate that is. You can read about it here:
                                      http://www.grassfedtraditions.com/gra...
                                      The unsalted Pasturelands is the last item at the bottom of the page. I usually place a double order, then store it in the freezer.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Well, anything that has "plus gras" is okay by me! The more fat the merrier.

                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                          agreed that pastureland is a world-class butter, imo superior to plugra. many domestic butters are on par with imported ones, and a lot cheaper/less miles, y'know? i'd also rec hope creamery, but i'm not sure they ship--i think all their butter is distributed within 70 miles.

                                        2. My local Publix carries plugra, lurpak and kerrygold; I don't pay attention to the price but if they're available in my backwater florida town surely you can find plugra elsewhere where you live.

                                          1. Try Pike Place Creamery in the Pike Place Market. Nancy carried Plugra before it was hot and also carries a number of other European-style (churned from fermented cream) butters.

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: Erika L

                                              Kerrygold is usually available here at Stop N Shop. I've never tried it; what are chowhounds' opinions on it in compared to Plugra and Land o Lakes?

                                              1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                Kerrygold is purely delightful. At 82% fat, their Unsalted whups LoL's butt.
                                                It tastes incredible and has a deep golden yellow color LoL cannot match.
                                                Their salted butter weighs in at 80%.

                                                KG comes from grass-fed cows, and as you've already seen, they still wrap in foil, whereas LoL gave that up some time back.

                                                1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                  I prefer the Plugra over the KG - both have lots of fat in comparison to typical American butter but there is a sweeter overtone to KG that I find off putting. IMHO the Plugra has a nice balance of deep sweetness and rich proteins (someone once mistook it for cheese!).

                                                  1. re: alwayscooking

                                                    'lots of fat'? Maybe you need to correct this Wiki entry:
                                                    "In the United States, products sold as "butter" are required to contain a minimum of 80% butterfat; in practice most American butters contain only slightly more than that, averaging around 81% butterfat. European butters generally have a higher ratio, which may extend up to 85%."

                                                    I suspect the real difference is between cultured butter and sweet cream butter.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      I don't purport to be an expert on butter - just the taste of the butters I prefer. And if you mean 'sweet cream butter' to be merely unsalted butter, I know the difference between the two - both for grocery store and European style brands. I also believe that all butters are cultured - some a tad differently than others.

                                                      However they are made or their composition, I still prefer the Plugra over the KG and most definitely over the grocery brands. And my favorite butter of all (eating only) is that made from water buffalo.

                                                      1. re: alwayscooking

                                                        Sweet Cream Butter comes both salted and unsalted, as does cultured butter. Your guests thought the Euro butter tasted like cheese because it was cultured - fermented, like cheese (although not aged for any length of time). That's the way all our butter used to be before the 1940's, when Madison Avenue thought up the moniker, "Sweet Cream Butter" to sell the tasteless, uncultured butter that dairies had started to make to compete with margarine.

                                                        As to butterfat percentages and the labels, here's something I wrote up a while ago:
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5681...

                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                          Thanks for the information. After all the help I realize that what I'm looking for is 12G butter. That is what french butter must be. When I lived in France I never thought about it until I tasted the difference. I just bought what was on sale at the Intermarche or Champion.
                                                          Jim

                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                            Applehome

                                                            Thanks
                                                            and perhaps you
                                                            should update the wiki entry!

                                                            And I love the cultured butter

                                                        2. re: paulj

                                                          Is there any way to tell what the % butterfat is by looking at the label? Both LoL and Plugra labels claim 11gm of fat per 14gm serving, but supposedly Plugra has a higher % butterfat.

                                                  2. Cash & Carry stores in California and Washington sell 1-lb blocks of DariGold's Chef's Choice high fat unsalted butterat a very good price. I've found that it works as well as Plugra and it comes from Washington. I know many professional bakers who use this butter.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Nancy Berry

                                                      As a pastry baker who studied in France, I tried a lot of US butters to come up with a good one for French pastries. Higher fat and lower water is important. Plugra has been my choice for years. It's the choice of many US bakers. I like the flavor, too. In pastries like pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) and croissants, the flavor of the butter really does make a big difference.

                                                      So I join the crowd who is disappointed in TJ dropping it. It was such a bargain there. (A half pound of Plugra in foil elsewhere costs more than a pound in wax paper did at TJ.) Kerry Gold is not nearly as good in my view. I do like Organic Valley European-style cultured butter, but it's expensive for baking.

                                                      I emailed TJ to protest. Everyone should.
                                                      My closest Seattle Cash & Carry doesn't carry Plugra. Maybe Darigold has the higher fat we need, but I didn't think they had the flavor that comes from culturing.

                                                    2. My "local" TJs (130 miles away) still has a plentiful stock of Plugra at the low price of $3.69/lb. I bought a bunch (4 fit nicely in a gallon zip top freezer bag) for my use and specifically asked about the future of Plugra. This store manager had not heard that Plugra was being discontinued. I'm hoping that's the case, since this is a newer store.

                                                      Maybe it's regional?

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Dee S

                                                        Since I hadn't checked my TJ's for a while I hestitated to say anything, but I've seen over and over on threads here that someone has been told by someone at TJs that a product has been discontinued when that's not necessarily true. It may be discontinued in a region, or it may be temporarily out of stock, or they may be looking for a new packager or supplier, etc.

                                                        I think when they look down on their stock list and don't see an item, they clerks at TJ's (who are nice and helpful, but not necessarily well-informed on corporate purchasing policies) just assume it's been discontinued, when that isn't necessarily the case.

                                                      2. They carry Plugra at my Supertarget. Last week it was on sale for $1.59 for a half pound. I don't recall the regular price, but I think it's around $2 for a half pound.

                                                        1. I verified with the manager at the TJ's at Tyngsboro/Nashua that Plugra is indeed gone from their line-up. He looked it up and said that it wasn't about slow sales, but seemed to be about the vendor raising their prices beyond what they wanted to pay. There is nowhere else that has or had cultured high-fat butter (Euro-style butter) for $3.69/lb. They now carry Kerrygold (both salted and unsalted) at $2.69/ 1/2lb, but that's $5.38/lb - a big difference, albeit still cheaper than anything at Whole Paycheck.

                                                          I've never seen the high-fat butters from Cabot or LandoLakes at our grocery stores in this area (New England). I was wondering if these were actually cultured or they were selling sweet-cream versions with higher fat. Does anybody know? It's probably worth asking the grocery stores to carry this - although I wonder if it will be any cheaper than the Lurpak ($2.89/ 1/2 lb.)

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                            I'm fairly certain the LoL is not cultured. I think it's modeled on Plugra.

                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                              Just to clarify: Plugra is not cultured, either -- it's just higher fat.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                Yes, that's what I meant: I believe Land O'Lakes is modeled on Plugra, therefore not cultured, but ~82% buttefrfat.

                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  You were right, but a couple of other people in this thread said Plugra was cultured, thus the need to clarify.

                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                    Thanks for the responses.

                                                                    Plugra used to be cultured when it was made by OATKA in NY for the trade. I thought that Keller's Creamery kept the same recipe when they took it over, but I find nothing about it being cultured on their site, so you guys are probably right. I only buy the wax paper restaurant pack (or used to) so I never see any packaging details. OATKA's new butter for the NYC restaurants is Cremdore, and it definitely is cultured - it has a very light, cheesy taste that develops even further if left out of the fridge for a few days.

                                                                    There was a time when saying European style meant that it was cultured, but I guess marketing has changed that so that it means just higher % butterfat. Rosengarten's Report in 2004 definitely assumed that European style meant cultured - he uses it in his definition. He mentions that Organic Valley makes a Euro Style that is most definitely cultured, not sweet cream butter. Maybe I'll look for that - although I know that the Organic Valley regular butters are very expensive.

                                                                    One more question - what does the LoL Euro-style cost? I would expect it to be more than their regular sweet cream butter, but is it as much as the actual Euro brands I mentioned?

                                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                                      Since you're in New England, you might want to look for the Vermont Butter and Cheese cultured butter. It's excellent! And really high butterfat (86%!). Maybe the 2-lb chef's pack won't be too expensive.

                                                                      http://butterandcheese.net/culturedBu...

                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        Oh absolutely, I love the stuff - but it's like Gold - $8/lb and UP. It costs more than the imports.

                                                          2. A few have mentioned it but Jimster has never responded... you can buy Plugra just about anywhere. I can find it in my local mediocre grocery stores as well as many of the more specialty markets like Whole Foods, etc.

                                                            I find it EXTREMELY hard to believe - no make that IMPOSSIBLE to believe that in such a food oriented city like Seattle that you can't find Plugra. There are other, and better grocery stores out there aside from Trader Joe's. Take a trip to Whole Foods and I can all but guarantee that you'll find it.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: SQHD

                                                              No one said you couldn't find it elsewhere. Trader Joes just has always had a much better price than everywhere else.

                                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                                Point taken - but the incinuation based on the first post was that Jimster didn't have any other source for it. He mentioned that he is now left with "the same old choices."

                                                                Though price was a point of discussion mentioned in the first post, one can assume that Jimster did not have any other source for the Plugra and thus did not know of anywhere else to buy it.

                                                                My assumption is further strengthened by the posts on April 5th when a particular poster mentioned the price of Plugra at $3.99 (albeit in Chicago) and Jim said he'll "definitely give them a try" which means he hadn't thought of the possibility of its availability at Whole Foods, hadn't looked at Whole Foods, and frankly, hadn't looked at any other store aside from Trader Joe's.

                                                                1. re: SQHD

                                                                  "Does anyone know of a good affordable no salt butter?"

                                                                  Plugra at Whole Foods is not affordable, at least not on the same level as Trader Joes. Another poster followed up and said that Whole Foods had Plugra for $3.99 for a half pound, while it was cheaper than that at Trader Joes for a pound.

                                                            2. TJ's corporate sales response: it was slow sales after all. Everybody email them (go to their site and hit Contact Us, then Email Us) - maybe they'll bring it back. But to be fair, if they do bring it back, everybody needs to buy it regularly.

                                                              http://www.traderjoes.com/product_inf...

                                                              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                              David,

                                                              Thanks for contacting us. We have discontinued that product in our
                                                              stores due to slow sales. Because our stores have such limited space, if
                                                              an item does not meet a minimum sales volume, we will discontinue it in
                                                              order to bring in something we think will sell better. I will pass your
                                                              comments on to our buyers for consideration. From time to time, if there
                                                              is enough outcry to bring back a discontinued item and we are able to do
                                                              so, we will give it another run.

                                                              Thanks for shopping with us,
                                                              Nikki
                                                              Customer Relations

                                                              -----Original Message-----
                                                              From: applehome01@verizon.net [mailto:applehome01@verizon.net]
                                                              Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 3:29 PM
                                                              To: Web Customer Relations
                                                              Subject: Trader Joe's Product Information Form

                                                              Comments: You cannot quit carrying Plugra!!!! Please!!!!

                                                              Lots of people on Chowhound and other foodie sites are complaining. I'm
                                                              complaining.

                                                              The price point on the Plugra was really amazing. Even if you cannot
                                                              source it any longer at that price, and you have to raise the price,
                                                              you're still going to be miles below Whole Paycheck and others.

                                                              Aren't you a German owned corp? Couldn't you fly in some great Euro
                                                              butters super cheap? Kerrygold and Presidente are ok, but howzabout
                                                              Lurpak from Denmark? That's a popular restaurant butter that could be
                                                              sourced cheaply, I'm sure.

                                                              In the US, Horizon and Land O'Lakes now have Euro butters (at least high
                                                              butterfat, although strictly sweet cream/un-cultured) and might make
                                                              good deals with you.

                                                              Please look into either bringing back the Plugra or replacing it with an
                                                              inexpensive, yet high quality, high-butterfat Euro-style butter.
                                                              Cultured would be better than sweet cream, but we'll settle for sweet
                                                              cream at a better price point.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                I emailed them and got the same response, but people have commented that they have that same response every time they discontinue something, and frequently it's a cost issue, and not a sales issue, so who knows.

                                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                                  Yep. Canned response (I've received the exact same response every time I've emailed them about a product that they've discontinued) that ultimately means nothing.

                                                                  I'm quickly becoming disillusioned with TJ's.