There are different types and qualities of butter. However, real butter takes time: time to mature, time to be churned, time to be kneaded. Time gives the product taste, aroma, and texture. Making churned butter takes 48 hours, from the receipt of the milk to the packaging.
By USDA standards, American butter must contain at least 80% butterfat. Compared to European butter, it does not include any added cultures. In Europe, real dairy butter is churned for a longer time, resulting in at least 82% butterfat (and up to 90%) content in the final product. Higher butterfat content helps butter melt faster, making it the perfect baking ingredient. In France, butter is protected by the law: dairy cows' diets are carefully monitored to ensure quality cream and no preservatives are added, except salt for salted butter. Live cultures are added to the cream before churning, allowing the butter to take on its characteristic slight tang, which makes it so sought-out.
Due to its resistance to high cooking temperatures (356˚F/180˚C) without burning, clarified butter is perfect for making emulsified stable warm sauces, such as Béairnaise or Hollandaise sauce, or even to sauté meats, fish and vegetables. This type of butter is an important pillar of French gastronomy.
What’s special about it? It enriches flavors of spices, while giving a delicious hazelnut taste to the dish. It is a great cooking fat, as it withstands high temperatures. Clarified butter can also be kept several weeks in the fridge in an air-tight container.
It is noteworthy that classic store-bought butter is composed of lipids (82%), proteins, lactose and water. Clarifying the butter means keeping only the fat, which preserves it for a longer period of time. To do so, simply place the butter in a water bath on low. It should melt very slowly (at least 20 minutes) without stirring. A white froth will form at the surface. This is casein that must be scooped out delicately, using a spoon. Once done, only a golden liquid will remain: this is the clarified butter. The next step is to pour it into a container very slowly. Under the lipids, a whitish liquid will form: this is the whey that is mainly composed of lactose and water. It is recommended to stop pouring the clarified butter as soon as the white liquid shows.
Another method is to wait until the three elements are separated after cooling and to scrape off the hard casein on the surface and then tilt the container to drain the whey left at the bottom. This would make extracting the clarified butter easier, without fear of mixing it up.
The butter tradition is such a key component of European history that some butters have become a part of its heritage. Butter is very diverse and can be linked to local products. This explains why certain regions have requested and obtained the label of “Protected Designation of Origin” (AOP in
French) requested and obtained by certain regions: in order to claim this label, the butter in question must be produced in a specific region, using local milk from said region, according to production rules that follow a proven know-how.
In France, there are currently three types of butter with Protected Designation of Origin: Charentes-Poitou butter since 1979, Isigny butter since 1986, and Bresse butter since 2014. Isigny is a region in Normandy. The designation zone for this butter circles the edges of Veys bay, between Cotentin and Calvados. Ideally located close to the sea and irrigated by five rivers, this region with overflowing green pastures allows cows to produce milk that gives Isigny butter and cream their unparalleled smoothness and flavor. Isigny butter is made using cream and a maturation period of at least 12 hours and is renowned for its golden natural color and its tasty hazelnut flavor.
Using flavored butter adds complexity and originality to traditional canapés. With sweet herbs, spices and other ingredients, the possibilities are endless and low cost. Butter can hold and develop flavors, which heightens the tasting experience!
Here are some rules of thumb for successful and delicious flavored butters:
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