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FOODIES

Butter

 


Brrrrr. Oh wait, it’s Beurre. Mantequilla, butter, however you say it it’s wonderful. Right up there with water as far as the essence of life, at least as far as I’m concerned.

When I think about butter, I think cold, winter, puff pastry, croissants, pie crusts, turnovers, bananas foster, berries and lobster. And as much as I’d like to encourage you to season your grills, it’s just not time yet. So, we might as well eat some butter. Ya know what I mean? And it doesn’t have to be in any of those heavier foods I just described. Durango Farmers market opens this Saturday, May 13th. I would guess anything you buy there will be tender, sumptuous and delicious sautéed in a little butter.

I have a few food businesses, and one of them is cookies, so butter is very important to me and I research it a lot. Butterfat content. What? It’s butter, right? So isn’t the whole thing butterfat? No. The percentage of milk solids and salt play a large role in taste and performance. How much water is there? How much will it steam? How hot will it get and how quickly? I use organic butter in my product, sustainably raised butter of any kind at home, grain fed, grass fed, I’m not always sure, but I do like the quality of grass fed butter. For cooking, I use unsalted. Salt burns easily so the unsalted butter offers a little more versatility and also I like to control how much and what kind of salt I’m eating. Usually sweet cream but sometimes sour cream, cultured butter, which is entirely different, somewhat probiotic, and used with foods that are not to be stored for long.

Lately though, I’m disturbed by an additional ingredient in butter. Natural flavors. I’m flabbergasted. Why does butter need added flavor? Has it been over pasteurized and has no nuance left? Have we overstimulated our palates so much with electrically charged trash that we need natural tasting food to taste like something artificial so we can even taste it? And what are “natural flavors”? Where do we get them? How are they made? Yes made. Because if they were already there and actually natural, we wouldn’t have to add them, right? Hey, that’s not a butter box, that’s a soap box!

In the old commercial parody of how to say good taste, the argument of butter or mantequilla is moot when the victor is Parkay. Does anyone remember Parkay margarine? I hope you all realize that although it was all some of us had at the time, margarine was never a good choice. My grandmother would use real butter on French bread and luxury foods, and Nucoa, for everything else, including toast in the morning.

In the last year I’ve tried about 20 brands of cow’s milk butter, each of them slightly different from the other. Some European, some domestic, some domestic made in a European Style, small batch, churned, cultured, the list goes on. I have also recently tried goat’s milk butter, a little gamey but I like that. Sheep’s milk is the richest milk and the butter tasted like ice cream; I had to exercise a lot of restraint. I also tried water buffalo’s milk butter. It’s white as snow and very soft with a mild flavor. A little goes a long way. But hey, how much water buffalo butter does one really need, eh?

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