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Best butter for everyday use and special occasions

I’ve bought 11 common butters that are available at several grocery stores in New York City, and decided against private label butters that are only available at certain stores, such as. B. 365 from Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s. I would have loved to try popular regional brands like Straus, Challenge, and Tillamook, but I couldn’t get my hands on any in the Northeast. Therefore, this list is by no means exhaustive.

Also a disclaimer: even the best butter cannot survive poor or long storage in the supermarket without a loss of quality, say Mode and Houfe. I can’t believe I’ve found this butter in its ideal condition. Also, the taste of many small-batch and artisanal butters changes seasonally based on temperature and available feed. We conducted our assessment in October 2022.

My selection was a mix of major national brands – Breakstone’s, Cabot, Horizon, Kerrygold, Land O’Lakes and Organic Valley – and smaller, regional or imported brands – Finlandia, Isigny Ste Mère, Lurpak, Plugrá and Vermont Creamery.

We blind-tasted the unsalted and salted versions of the butter on baguette pieces and plain at a cool room temperature of 55°F, analyzing each sample for color, aroma, texture, mouthfeel, and flavor.

  • Colour: The color can vary from creamy white to dark yellow depending on the feed and season of the cows. “The depth of the yellow is not a quality feature per se,” says Mode. It is more important to pay attention to consistency. Oxidation can occur when butter is old or the packaging material is of poor quality, resulting in a darker or lighter finish than the inner layers.
  • Aroma: Ideally, butter should have a milky-fresh scent with hints of diacetyl – the main flavoring agent for “butteriness”. Cultured butter can also have a hint of acidity, similar to crème fraîche. Odors such as onion and garlic can be transferred to the butter if it has been poorly stored or poorly packaged.
  • Texture: The butter should slice easily and evenly. We noted the butter’s spreadability and whether there was excessive moisture, greasyness, or crumbs.
  • mouthfeel: Butter should be slightly waxy and cohesive, whereas weak butter is slippery and melts too quickly. Butter should dissolve relatively slowly so that you can fully taste all of the flavoring compounds in butter that are released as it melts. Gum butter doesn’t melt easily, but instead sticks to the palate.
  • Taste: “The butter should have fresh, sweet, creamy notes of butter,” says Houfe. “And then clean and gone with no aftertaste.” Some unsalted butters have “natural flavoring” added to their ingredient list, which is a cocktail of lactic acid and diacetyl that acts as a preservative in place of salt, says Houfe. Diacetyl occurs naturally in butter as it ages and ferments, but some manufacturers add additional diacetyl to enhance flavor and extend shelf life.
  • Salt: “All flavors should be balanced,” says Houfe. “The salt shouldn’t be overwhelming. They want to make sure you taste the butter.”

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