Time for another round of butter tasting!
My last butter tasting post (Kerrygold, Organic Valley, Lurpak and Smjor) was quite popular, so I figured I should put my souvenirs from my recent road trip to Seattle to good use (not that I need an excuse for consuming copious amounts of butter!).
Four of the butters were bought at DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine in Seattle’s Pike Place Market: President (France), Beurre de Baratte (France), Delitia Buffalo Milk Butter (Italy), and Sierra Nevada (US). I knew I couldn’t really compare the buffalo milk butter to the others, but I was curious because I had seen it on Chef Lynn Crawford’s Pitchin In’. I also thought I should throw a Canadian butter into the mix, and so I bought Cow’s Creamery unsalted butter from Prince Edward Island. I chose that one because it was available at Whole Foods, and because PEI is about the furthest distance from BC from which I can get butter (Canada doesn’t allow imported butters). And, for good measure, I threw in my beloved Kerrygold into the mix, because it’s my everyday butter (ditto the 3 other tasters, and probably a lot of you reading this), and I was curious how it’d stack up against the others.
A) Cows Creamery
|Origin||Prince Edward Island, Canada|
|Butterfat %||83% (some sources say 84%)|
|Info found online||Natural, no preservatives or colour added, made by churning cream slower and longer in traditional churns gives the butter a creamier taste and a silkier texture; new product (2011)|
|Ingredients||Pasteurized cream, lactic starter|
|Package marketing||From The Heart of Normandy. What gives Président butter its full nutty flavor, creamy texture and gold yellow color, making it a must among high quality imported butters? Président butter is made in the Normandy region of France. This region is considered as the “Grand Cru” among French and other European dairy regions, thanks to its oceanic climate and rich grass. The other reason: natural lactic ferments are added to the cream before churning, which enhances the natural flavor of butter. Enjoy Président butter on bread or with fresh radish, melted on cooked vegetables or pastas. It is also perfect in pastries, sauces and all sorts of baked and cooked recipes.; “First Quality”|
|Ingredients||Cultured pasteurized cream|
|Organic?||No, but hormone-free|
|Package marketing||Pure Irish butter; milk from grass-fed cows; “First Quality”; In Ireland, cows graze on the green pastures of small family farms. This milk is churned to make Kerrygold butter|
– Ireland’s dairy herds graze freely outdoors on green pastures for most of the year
– Grass-fed cows (not grain-fed)
– No preservatives, hormones, and unnatural additives
D) Delitia Buffalo Milk Butter
|Name||Delitia Buffalo Milk Butter|
|Ingredients||Pasteurized water buffalo cream, cultures|
|Package marketing||“This butter, with its delicately rustic and aromatic flavor, is produced with pasteurized Bufala creams from the Bufala milk collected in the area of production of the mythic Bufala Mozzarella. Its quality assured by the selection of the farms where the Bufala milk is produced and, in compliance with severe and rigorous disciplinary of production.”|
”It is pale porcelain in color and intense in flavor which is the best testimony of its high quality.”
E) Beurre de Baratte, Rodolphe Le Meunier
|Name||Beurre de Baratte, Rodolphe Le Meunier, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (“Best Craftsman of France”)|
|Salted?||Yes (2.5%) – Salé a la Fleur de Sel de L’Ile de Ré|
|Package marketing||Moulé à la main (handmade)|
|Internet info||– “The “Baratte” process constitutes of separating the milk, spinning the heaviest part into a creamy and thick consistency, and later re-injecting the butter with cream, for a decadent and sumptuous texture and flavor.”
–> Please let me know if you have found any other information on this butter
F) Sierra Nevada Vat- Cultured European Style Butter
|Name||Sierra Nevada Vat-Cultured European Style Butter|
|Origin||Willows, CA, USA|
|Ingredients||Certified organic pasteurized cream, cultures|
|Package marketing||“Local organic cream is cured in small batches with live active cultures. Our rich, old-fashioned flavor and European-style butterfat level perfectly suits table use, cooking, and superior baking!”
”We handcraft award-winning Natural and Organic artisan cheeses & fine dairy foods in Northern California”.”
”American Humane Association Certified Organic Farms”
|Website marketing||“Our Organic Butter is vat-cured with live active cultures in a time-activated process to develop a distinctive all-natural flavor. Its rich European-style butterfat content creates a creamy texture you’ll find irresistible.”
“Sierra Nevada Cheese Company strives to bring you the best products free from artificial ingredients or hormones. Our organic dairy partners achieve American Humane Association animal welfare standards.”
“Our products are free from:
I gathered the same 4 testers as last time, and followed the same format of rating each butter on a scale of 1-5 on colour, smell, texture, and taste. No one other than me knew which butter was which (and I did my darndest to forget, which of course is not completely possible, resulting in some level of bias). Everyone else got a brief look at the still packaged butters, as well as a quick overview about the countries of origin and types of butter we’d be trying. I removed the butter from the fridge about 30 minutes prior to the tasting.
First off, I decided to pull two butters out of the rankings so as to not skew the results.
I didn’t foresee just how “different” the buffalo milk butter would be. Shockingly, everyone found this butter pretty much inedible. It reminded us of lard, and not in a good way. I can’t believe how unappetizing this butter is – to the point that I’m wondering if it’s possible for there to be something wrong with this particular block. My google search of what it should taste like was pretty fruitless. If you’ve tried this butter, let me know what you think of my reaction. I’d be very curious to give this one a try again, although only if I didn’t have to buy a whole block. There’s no point including this butter in the rankings, as it would come last in every category.
The other butter I’m pulling out of the ranking hierarchy is a little more complicated. One thing I learned from this tasting is to not have both salted and unsalted butters in one tasting. Salted butters taste very different from unsalted ones, which can skew the results, depending on how much someone likes salt. I included a salted butter in the previous butter tasting without any issues, but Rodolphe Le Meunier’s butter is uncharacteristically salty. It’s also very deep yellow and has a different texture, to the point of one taster suspecting that it may have gone bad and ranking it the lowest. Interestingly everyone else including me ranked it the highest overall. I think there were too many things going on with this butter to be able to simply compare it to the others, and it warrants buying it again to make sure there was nothing off about this particular block and then trying it alongside other salted butters.
The 4 remaining butters ranked as follows:
1st Place: Kerrygold (54/60): It’s possible that there may have been a slight bias towards this butter, since this is the one that all the tasters use on a daily basis. However, the butter was the deepest yellow out of the four, and comments included that it tasted really good, held its texture well, and had nice grassy flavors.
2nd Place: Président (50/60): This one was a close second, although it was noticeably more pale. Interestingly, everyone other than me really liked this butter. Personally, I found it a little watery and thought that it had a weird aftertaste.
3rd Place: Sierra Nevada (45/60): This butter didn’t really stand out one way or another – no one had any problems with it, but it didn’t wow anyone, either. I found it to be very “neutral” which would explain its “average” standing.
4th Place: Cows Creamery (40/50): Sadly, the only Canadian butter of the bunch was found lacking all around. Not only was it pale, but it was found to be watery and bland. I thought it tasted “cheap”.
In case you’re wondering, my rankings were the same as above, except reverse Président and Sierra Nevada.
It’s always interesting to see how people’s preferences differ, and I recommend trying out a few butters yourself to see what you like. From these tastings, it seems like imports are a pretty good bet, because they tend to have higher butterfat content – so that’s what I’d look for in local butters as well. But clearly that’s not the only factor, as seen with the Cows Creamery butter which was 83-84%. “European-style” butters that are cultured also seem to have more care go into their production and tend to be higher butterfat, so they’re also worth a try. And of course, pastured and organic butters are typically both tastier and healthier. As for myself, until I can get my hands on some more butters to try, I’ll happily continue using Kerrygold as my everyday butter.
Have you tried any of these butters? What did you think? What’s your favourite butter?
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