HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >

Discussion

Butter

I've pretty much had it with supermarket butters (Land o' Lakes, Hotel Bar, others).

I would appreciate some guidance in finding a sweet butter that tastes great on a warm dinner roll, a muffin and so on.

Thanks in advance.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I like Kerrygold, Plugra, and Lurpak.

    1. I'm a fan of European cultured butters (e.g. Presidente, which I get at Whole Foods and it is relatively reasonably priced). Organic Valley also makes a wonderful cultured butter. Both are unsalted. Of course, fancy butters are divine, but the aforementioned ones are pretty easy for me to find.

      I don't usually butter muffins, but I have been known to slice off a pat of butter and eat it as is!

      11 Replies
      1. re: nofunlatte

        I buy butter from my farmer market, so no name but really good and fresh. Ask around at your local farmer markets. I think this is some of the best butter I have every had.

        There is also a local produce place and the owners have relatives in Lancaster, PA. The freshly churned "amish" butter is really good. Its kind of hit or miss when they have it and when they do is goes FAST!

        For commercial butter I like plugra and kerrygold but both are very rich so a little goes a long way.

        1. re: foodieX2

          Have you ever seen Amish butter that isn't salted? I can get Amish butter locally. I would buy it if there were an unsalted version, but there isn't one.

          1. re: cheesemaestro

            Here in Mass, no, but when I was in the Lancaster/Hershey area last year I saw it at all the Amish markets so I know they make it. I would definitely ask.

            1. re: foodieX2

              I used to live in PA Dutch country and the Amish butter was always salted.

              1. re: nofunlatte

                Interesting. I saw it at the Lancaster Central Market. I bought some wonderful pickled horseradish from the farmers brother too. Maybe they carry it due to the large tourist crowd?

                1. re: nofunlatte

                  I think you might find things have changed some in the recent 3 or 4 years.I have easy access to 3 or 4 Amish butters,2 have the unsalted option.

          2. re: nofunlatte

            +1 for Organic Valley... I buy their pastured butter, which comes salted, for savory dishes, and their cultured sweet butter in sticks. Just delicious.

            1. re: nofunlatte

              Ditto on Presidente, and KerryGold. Also, Vermont Butter & Cheese (comes in a round "bar"), and Kate's Homemade Butter.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                I think of Vermont Creamery as a "log"--HA HA! All kids love Log, don'tchaknow?!

                1. re: kattyeyes

                  THAT'S it! I was blanking out on the word "log" - all I could think of was a Buche Noel. Right shape; wrong word(s). ;-)

              2. re: nofunlatte

                +1 for Organic Valley - their Pasture Butter is a-mazing. When it goes on sale we stock up on it and freeze it, so we're never without it. We always have a backup pound :)

              3. I use Tillamook unsalted butter, but that's a supermarket butter, so I assume you've tried it if it's available in your area.

                3 Replies
                1. re: GH1618

                  Oh, no, NOT if those are the cheese people is that "a supermarket butter." :) You just live closer to the source--lucky you. Bet it's great! Damn you California people and your fresh produce and happy cows!

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    It is the cheese people from Tillamook County, Oregon. Their butter is widely available on the West Coast now.

                  2. re: GH1618

                    Second the Tillamook (I'm in Portland) for everyday use.

                  3. Vermont Creamery makes a stellar cultured butter, salted or unsalted. It pretty much tastes great on a knife or your finger if we're being honest. Check your local Whole Foods.
                    http://www.vermontcreamery.com/

                    I want to say it fared well in an ATK or Cook's Country taste test, too, but you know how funny they are about making it easy to get at their content. AHA, lookie here:
                    http://www.cooksillustrated.com/taste...

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      Howdy April,
                      Thanks for chiming in!

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          I think you're recommending the butter made by Vermont Butter and Cheese (not Vermont Creamery). Yes, it's a wonderful butter. Besides Whole Foods, check Wegmans, if there's a store near you. Some cheese shops also stock it.

                          1. re: cheesemaestro

                            Yes, that's outstanding. It's available on the West Coast, so I assume it's widely distributed.

                            Here's a little secret: check out middle eastern or eastern european markets/delis. They often have imported butter in the refrigerator cases, and the prices tend to be reasonable (less jacked up than specialty stores). The one near my sister's house has this glorious Belgian Chimay butter.

                            There have been quite a few discussions on the topic -- here's a recent one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/385951

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              I'd forgotten about Chimay butter. Highly recommendable.

                            2. re: cheesemaestro

                              For some reason every store near me only seems to stock the maple variety, still on the hunt for straight up salted.

                          2. I like Plugra and Kerrygold for butters that are available all over the place. While I'm in Chicago, I also like Kalona Supernatural (grassfed) and local-ish (out of Indiana, I believe) Amish butter.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Violatp

                              Thanks for the Kalona tip; I'm in Chicago and I've never tried it. My go-to is Kerrygold.

                              1. re: caseyjo

                                And their website has a coupon!

                            2. I've never had a problem with everyday butter, but will have to try other suggestions to taste if there is a difference.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: escondido123

                                On bread where you can really taste the difference, oh absolutely! Have fun indulging!

                                Also, I use shmantzier butter for my best cookies (CCCs and corn cookies).

                                1. re: escondido123

                                  There are some pretty significant differences.

                                  European (or European-style, like Plugra) butters have a higher butterfat content. A couple of percent doesn't sound like a lot, but since what it's replacing is mostly water (butter is butterfat, milk solids and water), reducing the water content by ten percent makes a noticeable difference.

                                  The other major difference is that some butter is made from cream that's been cultured, which makes it more flavorful. "Sweet butter" to most people is synonymous with "unsalted" but the term more correctly means "uncultured." If you look at US butter labels carefully you'll see they often use the phrase "sweet cream" in reference to both unsalted and salted.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    I'm going to have to get my hands on some cultured butter; I don't think I've ever had any. Cultured, to me, means tangier/sour. I'm guessing that the butter isn't sour, so I"m really curious to see if I think it's delicious!

                                2. I buy kerrygold at Costco in a 3 pack. It's the most convenient form of grass fed butter i can find. And it fits perfectly in my denby butter dish. :)

                                  When I can't stomach a trip to Costco, or for baking, I use tillamook.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Madronatree

                                    I've never seen Kerrygold at Costco - I'll have to look closer next time we're there (and cross our fingers).

                                    1. re: melval

                                      It has recently become a regular stock item in the DC area,not in the same case as COSTCO'S butter but in the cheese cases.

                                  2. If you can find French Normandy butter, there is nothing like it. It's got a higher fat content than American butters, and the way the cows are handled and fed also makes a huge difference. These butters have about 100 times the flavor of our butters. But watch out, these butters can spoil you forever. Look for brands like Président, Echiré and Isigny-Ste-Mère. And ALWAYS get unsalted!

                                    If you don't have a nearby gourmet shop that carries these, you can order them by mail:

                                    http://www.markys.com/caviar/customer...

                                    http://www.gourmetfoodstore.com/butte...

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: lemarais

                                      +1 on Isigny-Ste-Mere. I'm addicted. Plus, discovered (in the same shop) St. Dalfour's mirabelle plum jam. The two, combined with my homemade bread, toasted ever-so-lightly, makes a heavenly breakfst.

                                      1. re: pine time

                                        Last year I made two batches of butter cookies a week apart and reported on it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8205... . I was surprised at how much, and very noticeably, better the cookies were with Isigny than with Plugra. Made a convert of me and I've never looked back. Can't afford it for every day, but when the flavor of the butter makes a difference, Isigny it is.

                                        1. re: JoanN

                                          Thanks! Hmmm, there's another cookie for the Christmas baking!

                                    2. I like Kerrygold more than Plugra. But Plugra is made in the USA if that matters to you.

                                      1. There is most definitely a difference. I didn't believe it myself but my first taste of Kerrygold and I have been hooked on European-style butters. My favorites so far are Kerrygold and Plugra. I was a die hard Kerrygold fan until I discovered Plugra and now I alternate. I usually use Kerrygold for spreading purposes on rolls, cornbread, grilled cheese and Plugra in more savory dishes or as a steak topper.

                                        1. No offense meant for your personal taste, but what exactly do you find so offensive re: Land o' Lakes unsalted butter? I'm a big butter fan & that's my brand of choice for every day. It's sweet, fresh, & high-quality. Of course, that's just my personal opinion.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Bacardi1

                                            Land O' Lakes ,not offensive per se,but certainly not always as fresh tasting as some.They lost me about 25 years ago with a moron on the customer 800 number.With all the quality and serious competition on the shelf to choose from I haven't a clue what it's like today or if they had enough sense to return to foil wrap for the un-salted.

                                          2. I use Cabot's for everyday use, Kerrygold for a real treat on bread & such.

                                            1. Try everything you see that looks interesting,foreign,domestic,salt,no salt,culture yes,culture no,
                                              there is some very tasty stuff available.
                                              Here,Keller,Cabot,Kerry Gold,Plugra ,2 handmade small batch from dairies <100 miles away,
                                              1 from Ohio,2.5lb cultured,no salt and ANY small imported that I am sure is fresh.
                                              Vermont Creamery has EXCELLENT butter,worth seeking out.A supermarket near me has a new,superb,fancy cheese section,posted "tasting of V C" for three days hence and will have even the butter for sale.Signage sold it out in an hour,lesson learned.

                                              1. I have also tried Lurpak but wasn't as into it as the Kerrygold and Plugra. Also this is a great thread on butter http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/385951. I am eagerly waiting to use up some of the butter and my next on the list are Vermont Company and Organic Valley.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                  In our area, Organic Valley now has a grass fed version too. We use it most often, you know, for health. Very tasty but only salted.

                                                  1. re: JudiAU

                                                    Year round? That's awesome! I've only ever seen it seasonally in Chicago.

                                                    1. re: Violatp

                                                      On the package, it says it's seasonal, but my store has it at least most of the year.

                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                          Organic Valley is a cooperative, which means that in various parts of the country their products come from different dairies. I noticed also that Organic Valley was promoting both a grass-fed (and nonhomogenized) milk and a pastured butter. I could be that it's easier to do grass-fed/pastured year-round in California.

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            Ah - that makes perfect sense. Thanks!

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              That makes sense. The grass fed/pastured is only available salted here, so I use it much less often, in savory things.

                                                    2. I use Plugra on bread or for a special treat if I have it in the house. I use land o lakes otherwise. Not a lot of choices available here.

                                                      1. I like Plugra, but my everyday butter is Challenge salted. You might also like goat butter, if you can find it and you like goat milk. Nice and sweet.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: akq

                                                          I *love* Challenge salted, and even my teeny-tiny little rural TX grocery store (I really should take a picture for y'all sometime, it's like something out of 1974) carries it. Other than that, Fallfurrio isn't bad (a Texas brand).

                                                        2. Plugra, Lurpak, Kerrygold, etc are all OK, and a step above Hotel Bar and LO Lakes-- However, for the ultimate in taste and quality one needs to get French Normandy butter. Higher in fat, and specialized grazing techniques result in a fabulous butter that is simply LOADED with flavor and great texture. Great on bread, and also on cooked vegetables.

                                                          Look for President or Isigny Ste Mere, if not available locally they are available by mail order. I believe WholeFoods may carry President. Warning: These French butters will spoil you, it will be difficult to use other butters at all after trying one of these!

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: lemarais

                                                            what is the fat content? Most of the European butters I think are in the low 80s, just wondering how much higher

                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                              The minimum percent of butterfat allowed in France is 82%. In the US, it's 80%, and I believe Italy has the same standard. Isigny Ste. Mère is 82%, as is Celles sur Belle, another nice French butter. I'm not sure about Président, but I would guess it is the same. Echiré butter is a little higher, at 84%. The cultured butter from Vermont Butter and Cheese, praised by me and others here, is higher still, at 86%. Of course, butterfat content isn't the only factor that determines the taste and quality of butter.

                                                              1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                Yes, of course. President and Vermont Butter and Cheese are definite must trys.

                                                            2. re: lemarais

                                                              there is a restaurant here in boston that uses normandy butter for its bread service. my first taste and i nearly swooned.

                                                              just followed the amazon link below for the isigny ste mere... $25 a pound? yipes! that's way too steep for the noodle house for everyday butter. we use cabot and kerrygold. i use kirkland from costco for mass baking projects.

                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                  I bought Isigny Ste Mere, 8 oz, for $5. Guess I should have bought more!

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    I have a thing for Italian butters, especially the one from Parma which I see frequently around here. I just picked up a bar of that for Christmas and also another I'd never seen before, that is hand made with a cow embossed on the butter itself. Beppino Occelli is the name. When I glanced at the prices, the one was around $6 and the other was maybe $15 or $16. Then I realized the less expenisive one is a half lb, and the other 125grams, which I just looked up, just over 4 oz. I bought them anyway because it's for Christmas, guess that's going to have to be my gift this year. Cheaper than flying to Italy, I guess.

                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                      Beppino Occelli is famous for his cheeses. He's probably best known in the US for Testun al Barolo, a terrific cheese covered in the seeds and must of the nebbiolo grape, which is used to make Barolo and Barbaresco wines. I've never tasted Occelli's butter, but I wonder if any butter could be worth $60 a lb. Let us know if its flavor is as breathtaking as its price.

                                                                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                        Thanks for the history of my butter, when I put it on the table Christmas Day I will now have something amazing to discuss with my guests (but not the price, lest they think I'm insane!) I will definitely report back, I'll even try some straight and compare with the Parma, to make it all worthwhile!

                                                                2. Anchor, from New Zealand, is my favorite specialty butter. I like it even more than the lovely French butters mentioned upthread. It's surprisingly inexpensive for the quality, too. However, if I have to use something easy to find, Kerrygold is my favorite for eating. I use Land O Lakes or Costco butter for baking/cooking.

                                                                  1. We made our own butter on our farm when I was growing up. It was a deep yellow, unsalted and I despised it. None of the cool kids' families made butter. But now? I would be all over it.

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                      I always thought freshly-made butter was pale, almost white in fact. Isn't color added to commercial butter to make it yellow?

                                                                      1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                        Our was very dark and we didn't add anything to it. The cream from our cows was very, very rich. The butter grew darker and darker the more we churned. Weird, I know. Mom and I were just talking about this the other day. She could not believe how dark it was.

                                                                        1. re: Bacardi1

                                                                          The color of butter varies with the animal (cow, sheep, goat, water buffalo) and what the animal has eaten. Cows that are on pasture and eat fresh grass and herbs produce milk that makes richly colored butter and cheese, because the beta carotene in the plants they consume is passed into their milk. However, milk/cream from cows that eat primarily hay or silage will result in pale butter. Farmhouse and artisanal butters are thus yellower in spring and summer and whiter in winter when the cows aren't munching grass. Industrial producers do sometimes add coloring to make their butter more attractive to consumers.

                                                                          Goats do not pass the beta carotene from plants into their milk, which is why goat cheese and goat butter are nearly pure white, regardless of what the animals consume.

                                                                          1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                                            Good points. I did not know that about goats, or at least I did not put it together.

                                                                            Our Jersey cows grazed on fresh grass and herbs so it makes sense that they produced such dark butter.

                                                                          2. re: Bacardi1

                                                                            Thanks for the info guys! Interesting stuff.

                                                                          3. re: chefathome

                                                                            My mom grew up on a dairy farm in the 40's and 50's, and as such, had "Oleo" almost her entire childhood, as milk was sold by the butterfat content, meaning my grandparents would lose money by making their own butter. I always thought was, failing a better description, a bummer.

                                                                            1. re: shanagain

                                                                              Interesting. Our farm was not a dairy farm - we only milked five cows so it was worth making our own butter. We sold much of our cream to neighbours. Though I absolutely despised getting up early to milk the cows before school in retrospect it was a good thing.

                                                                          4. Here's a link that might make you drop everything and get to the store (or the computer) and get some French butter! (It will at least make your mouth water)

                                                                            http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/09/...

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: lemarais

                                                                              In fact, that it was I did last night. President was on sale at Wegman's, look forward to trying it out this weekend.

                                                                            2. Local to me is Hope Creamery butter made in Hope, MN. I love their butter so much I eat it with saltine crackers, or just plain, it's that good!

                                                                              From a quick internet search, it looks like you could order it online. Now I'm off to the fridge for butter and some crackers from the pantry!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: justalex

                                                                                +1for Hope butter

                                                                                No other butter I've tried (and believe me, I've tried a LOT of butter) tastes as good to me as Hope. I think it has something to do with the freshness factor present in a locally made, never frozen butter.

                                                                                I brought some to work one day with a fresh loaf of bread from the farmers' market. One of my coworkers rushed up to me and asked about it. He had a dreamy look on his face as he told me he had not tasted butter like it since he left the farm he grew up on where they made their own.

                                                                              2. We recently tried Lurpak salted and were disappointed. We found it to be rather bland. I'm going to try a Normandy butter and some of the Vermont cultured butter and hope that one of those is more interesting than the Lurpak. I've also used Plugra and Kerrygold and was completely underwhelmed with both.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                  Hmm. Just curious and I swear I don't mean this to be snarky, but you've tasted some pretty good butters there and left unsatisfied. What flavor profile are you looking for in a butter? I think Kerrygold tastes delicious - very buttery, not just greasy.

                                                                                2. Well, I had the President. It was very good, but I definitely prefer the Plugra.

                                                                                  1. How to make your own cultured butter at home:

                                                                                    http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.co...

                                                                                    Can't wait to try this!

                                                                                    1. In Massachusetts, there's High Lawn Farms, and their butters and creams are amazing. I'm not sure if you can get their products out of state, but the milk comes from Jersey cows, which apparently produce higher butterfat content, and the cream has a golden yellow appearance. Cabot 83 is also tremendous, and is more widely available.

                                                                                      1. After all the Kerrygold love I decided to try some. I didn't find that it really was all that much different from the land o lakes except maybe in water content. I think Plugra has a much richer flavor for spreading and things where butter is the main event.

                                                                                        On a side note Plugra is on sale 2.99 down from 4.99 at Giant (Carlislie not sure sure about Landover).

                                                                                        1. freshness makes a HUGe difference. If it's been sitting around too long it all tastes ordinary IME.

                                                                                          There's also a big seasonal difference in the raw materials, which is noticeable in pastured butters, especially the smaller dairy, smaller batch ones. Spring grazing makes the best, richest butter. I've bought locally produced artisianal butters in the Spring that completely blow away the exact same product produced or purchased later in the season.

                                                                                          Vaguely related factoid: that luxurious and exuberant new spring grass that makes the best butter is also what gives horses colic if they eat too much.

                                                                                          1. I've only used cheap supermarket brands, but I'm interested in trying a nicer butter. Could you only taste a difference in the butter by itself, maybe spread on toast? What about in cooking, baking, or a hollandaise sauce?

                                                                                            All the descriptions here are mouth watering, but I would want to make the best use of a splurge.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: erichalias

                                                                                              It depends on what kind of butter you are using and how you're using it. Using a higher butterfat butter will make a difference in some kinds of baking (sugar cookies, for example). Using a cultured butter will make a taste difference in cooking. I haven't tried hollandaise, but that's a good idea!

                                                                                              Here's a great article that tested and compared a range of butters: http://www.sfgate.com/recipes/article...

                                                                                              And one just comparing European-style butters: http://www.sfgate.com/food/tasterscho...

                                                                                              1. re: erichalias

                                                                                                Yes,the taste really varies.Some of the cultures are very distinctive as is the cow's diet.There is more here than just fat content and salt.

                                                                                              2. You do not want to have butter from a cow that got loose and has been eating ramps all day.

                                                                                                1. I am a definite European -style butter convert and it is primarily what I use now. However, with the holidays coming up I was wondering if you notice it makes that big of a difference in cooking. Of course, as a steak topper or spread on bread or for grilled cheese you notice the difference, also with baked goods of course there is an impact but with savory dishes do you usually switch to less expensive varieties. For example, would you prefer to still use higher quality butter in dishes like a decadent macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, etc. These dishes tend to require a good amount of butter and I'm trying to decide whether it's worth it to use up my supply of European-style butter or save myself a penny and buy a few lbs of regular ol' butter.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                    After some observations the last couple of year in my 35 year old cookie recipes, I this year bought Trader Joes specifically for my baking needs. I also bought Hotel Bar on sale, rather than the house brand, for cooking and whatnot. Despite my austerity budget, I have decided I am done with grocery store brands, I still believe they are adding extra water (based on observations while clarifying). Maybe someday I will find out if I am right or not.

                                                                                                    And as you can see above, money is no object when it comes to holidays and butter on the table for bread. I paid $60 a lb for a quarter lb of butter from Italy, but I am looking forward to us trying it next week immensely.

                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                      I would say use the good stuff on the mashed potatoes, where the butter is a big part of the flavor, and regular on the mac and cheese and sweet potato casserole. But that's just me!