Local butter gets cultured
Farmstead cheeses and premium ice creams are already mainstream, and now some butters are going artisanal. A small number of Vermont farmers and food producers have started making high-end butter.
Vermont baker Heike Meyer wanted butter reminiscent of what she would get as a child in her native Germany. She tells the Burlington Free Press her croissants contain 30-percent butter, and brioches are more than 40-percent, so the butter needs to taste good. Meyer started pestering Jack Lazor at Butterworks Farm in Westfield, Vermont to start making it. He resisted the a labor-intensive process at first. This winter Lazor had some extra cream, so he gave it a churn. Meyer tells the Free Press when she first tried it in February, “I closed my eyes and it almost tasted like spring grass."
Lazor has partnered with a butter-maker in western Maine, and will be offering his butter through local independent markets and co-ops this spring.
Other producers have been spreading the word about better butter for much longer. The Free Press spoke with folks at Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery, who started selling European-style cultured butter in the mid-1980s. They say they didn't really know what they were doing back then, but now butter is a mainstay in their business. It's got more butterfat than regular butter, which adds flavor and texture. The Creamery sells it for top dollar to NYC restaurants as a "front-of-the-house" butter, used for bread, because it's too expensive for cooking or baking.
But the Free Press reports that cultured butter isn't only for the upper crust. Some bakers tout the ubiquitous Cabot brand for its density and butterfat. Cabot has also come out with two specialty, award-winning butters than are sold in only a few stores.
Well, we should have expected it. After a yogurt boom, of course there would be a spreading fascination with butter.
Tags: agriculture, cooking, dairy, economy, food