I like Cabot's butters - they have a "European-style" high butterfat called Cabot 83 that's great. That said, I'm in the Northeast and they're my local "buttery". I think I like Cabot, b/c what I get is usually pretty fresh and so it hasn't had a chance to pick up odors, go rancid, etc.
I do like to make my own butter when I can get great cream. It's easy and results in a great product.
I typically like different butters for different uses. I like to keep a few sticks of unsalted Kate's Homemade Butter in the fridge for recipes that require a large quantity of butter. In the cooler months of the year, I typically make my own cultured butter for spreading on toast and that sort of thing. I also love Vermont Butter & Cheese butters - the one with flaky sea salt is fantastic. As far as why I chose the Kate's and Vermont, I just think they have great texture, a nice amount of butterfat, and good fresh flavor. And obviously, you can't get fresher butter than the stuff you make yourself. :)
I should also add that I have tried some of the higher-end butters like plugra but have seldom been thrilled - prob b/c my stores don't have good turnover of product and it was old.
The best better I ever ate was in France - all crunchy with salt crystals. Mmmmm ... salterrific ...
ooh gosh, that French butter sounds diviiiiiine :).. and thanks to that picture, I am now drooling. Hee.
Plugra butter is the tops! Expensive but the flavor is great! It has more fat and therefore more flavor. I use for spreading on bread and in my pie doughs mostly.
I might have to give Plugra another shot. I've had experiences similar to that of SavoryKitchen - tried it a few times, but wasn't too happy with it. But since I lived in a wee little podunk Tennessee town, it was probably old. Now that I've moved to a more urban area, I'll have to give it another shot.
And I don't think I've ever tried Cabot's butters.. will try that as well!
I agree that the higher fat European style butters taste best. Celles sur Belle is my favorite for pie crusts and other applications where the taste is really important: http://gourmetlibrary.com.... But I agree that freshness matters, too - I buy it at a little store that imports small quantities of it and has a pretty high turnover. I love Vermont Butter & Cheese, too, but I'm in New England.
If you're really feeling adventurous, see if you can get raw milk from a local dairy and make your own butter from the cream (make sure to rinse the butter at the end) - a different taste, but worth a shot. :)
I buy Land o' Lakes for most baking. I have a lot of older cookbooks and favorite recipes that were written using typical American butter, Lo'L the most consistant performer I've found for recipes written as such. I buy uncultured European style unsalted butter for baking pie crusts and some other things. sweet and savory, I buy the salted Euro butter for fresh use for special dinners occasionally. I don't care for the flavor of the cultured butters that I've tried, but that's just my taste.
I love President butter - great butter flavor - I can find it at my local middle eastern market [and Bristol Farms in SoCal, but more expensive].
I've never tried cultured butter... hadn't even heard of it until recently. Sounds interesting.
Most of the time, I buy whatever's on sale or whatever is cheapest. I've not had problems with store brands or Land O' Lakes--back in the dark ages of food availability, LOL butter was the most exotic butter around.
That said, when the local Trader Joe's opened and I was able to get my hands on some Plugra (which I hadn't heard of until Martha mentioned it on her old TV show), there was a jaw-dropping-oh-my-gosh difference in that Thanksgiving's sables and pecan sandies and other goodies. Everyone, and I mean everyone, noticed the difference. But you know what? I don't like Plugra for plain old bread and butter. I use it strictly for those cookies and cakes where butter and vanilla are the dominant flavors.
Not too long ago, I noticed that the Safeway in the next-door suburb carries Cabot butter, and I made a mental note to try some in the coming weeks. Another market that's 12.12 miles away carries Vermont cultured butter, but I don't want to drive that far just for butter with salt crystals in it. Or do I. . .hmmm.
I use several different kinds of butter, depending on the use. For baked goods, I like Trader Joe's organic butter. It is delicious, with consistent results and it does not break my bank account. I live in Ohio and try very hard to buy local products- so for special occasions I buy Ohio produced butter. I don't know if it is as "good" as Plugra, but I stand by the butter my state can produce. For table butter or to make compound butter, I buy Amish Roll butter from an Ohio/Pennsylvania cooperative called Minerva. If I am very lucky, I will get butter Hartzler Dairy, which is where I buy my milk. Comes in glass jars which I pay for in advance, and occasionally, they deliver cream, buttermilk and butter. http://www.hartzlerfamilydairy...
Kate's Butter from Old Orchard Beach, Maine. Both the salted and unsalted are delicious, as is their buttermilk.
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