Let’s face it. We all love butter. However, not all butters are created equal! The sourcing of the cream and the subsequent treatment of that cream make for some very different finished products. Here is some basic information on butter to help you select the right one.
Cultured butter is made from cream that has live cultures added to it. It’s a style that was more popular in Europe and less easy to find in the United States until recently when companies like Ploughgate Creamery started making their own domestic versions. Once the cream has been cultured for the right amount of time (which differs from producer to producer) the thickened cultured cream is churned into butter. Cultured butter is tangy and has a more lactic quality of flavor overall.
Cultured butter can also sometimes have a slightly ‘cheesy’ flavor profile. This is not desirable to some butter lovers, but some people do enjoy that more intense flavor. If cultured butter tastes cheesy it usually means that either the fat globules in the cream were slightly damaged before it was churned, or the butter has been aged for a while (intentionally or unintentionally!)
Sweet Cream Butter
Sweet Cream butter is made from fresh, sweet cream that has not been cultured. This style of butter has been the standard in America for the 20th and 21st centuries (though there might have been more variety in earlier times!) The cream for sweet cream butter is churned quickly after it is produced, resulting in a mild, sweet butter. Our favorite Sweet Cream butter comes from Cowbella, a seventh generation dairy located in Deansboro, NY.
Salt or No Salt?
Some butter is salted and some is unsalted. People have different preferences, and sometimes use different butter for different occasions. For example, most bakers use unsalted butter so that they can control the amount of salt in their finished product. Some people prefer salted butter to eat with bread, while others like unsalted best, and might add a pinch of their own favorite salt on top. The salt used in butter making varies. Most supermarket varieties will have a standard salt, but some specialty butters use sea salt of varying color, flake size, and intensity.