Monday, July 10, 2006

better butter

Elaine is a frequent contributor to (at least) one cool thing. Previously she has written about the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton and Banana Joe’s Pineapple Frosty. Tonight she continues the foodie theme by introducing us to a better butter. Elaine writes:

I’d had my eye on Plugrá Butter at Trader Joe’s for a while, but always refrained from getting it mostly because I’m lazy and I like the convenience of the stick format (vs. the European block-style) for easy measuring during cooking, and I was reasonably satisfied with the flavor of my typical Lucerne or Land O’ Lakes selections.

Over the July 4th weekend, during a visit to Vicky & Gary’s in Portland, I realized my folly. They stock Plugrá Butter, and I immediately noticed its rich flavor and texture. Plugrá is delicious for the same reason Mitchell’s is superior to other ice creams: it packs more fat (in fact, the name is a play on the French words meaning just that: more fat). In contrast to regular butter, which contains 80% butter fat and 20% water and milk solids, Plugrá contains 82.5% butter fat, which displaces some of the other components to improve taste and texture. The lower moisture content results in slower melting, flakier pastries, higher cakes, crisper cookies and better tasting sautés. One will note that the Recchiuti Fleur de Sel recipe provided by Joy specifies the use of butter with this high fat content. Plugrá Butter is made domestically by Keller’s Creamery,

My next project: to track down butter from Vermont Butter & Cheese Co., producers of a cultured butter. Cultured butter is the norm in Europe. It involves the addition of dairy bacteria to the sweet cream during churning, which results in the digestion of virtually all of the lactose in the cream and the production of methyl ketones that enhance the flavor of the butter. People describe the end result as intensely rich and milky, with a faint mellowness to it like a St. Andre cheese.

p.s. Portland is cool for other reasons too. We took several hikes through the Columbia River Gorge and lower Cascade Mountains and saw over 16 waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls, the second highest waterfall in the country at 620 feet. Oh yeah, the lack of sales tax is also cool.


At 2:26 AM, Anonymous joy said...

i'm totally with you on this! i definitely still buy regular butter, but i *always* have a stock of european-style butter in the fridge.

vermont butter & cheese co's cultured butter is delicious. they make the butter with cultured cream, as elaine says, which is basically creme fraiche. whole foods carries both their original cultured butter (in a yellow-wrapped log) and the newer version "with sea salt crystals" (wrapped in blue and packed in a basket). both types are salted. trader joe's also stocks a different brand of cultured butter.

i am a big fan of straus creamery's european-style sweet butter as well. the color difference between straus butter and "standard supermarket butter" is amazing, and, unlike plugra, it comes in the convenient stick form!

At 9:05 AM, Blogger Emmanuel said...

We have been using Plugra for many years and it is definitely way better than any other 'traditional' butter. To me it tastes more like butter and is a must have in our kitchen. It used to be quite difficult to find Plugra (naturally the Milk Pail always had it), but nowadays you can even find it at many Safeway (just like 'Creme Fraiche' which is now also available in many 'mainstream' stores', and is also a must for some recipes, not to mention is always very nice poured on fresh berries).


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