Julia Child had it right. My husband’s mother had it right. Anything is better with butter.
Apparently, after an inauspicious movement toward margarine and spreads undoubtedly for perceived “health” reasons, people are taking courage in hand and reinvigorating butter sales to levels not seen. The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, in fact, reports that butter consumption rose 24% over the past decade to a 40-year high.
Not surprisingly, consumers are increasingly concerned about product quality and are questioning the source of ingredients in every product. Family-owned butter producers such as Grassland Dairy Products and Nordic Creamery can’t keep up with the demand. “Butter consumption has now reached 5.6 pounds a year per capita, up from its low point of 4.1 pounds in 1997, according to the Milk Producers Federation.
There’s even a burgeoning artisan butter market, although the concept of artisan butter is not a new one, domestically or internationally. Very high quality butter is produced by family farmers throughout the US who either raise their own cows (remember, butter’s just cream and salt), or buy milk from local producers.
Once again, there is a plethora of choice in the butter and oil sector in this country. Think about your intended use, and choose wisely. A quick saute? Peanut oil with a relatively high flash point is a great choice if allergies are not an issue. A wonderful alterative, however, is clarified butter or ghee, where the milk solids have been cooked off, which eliminates burning and adds a warm, nutty taste. Grapeseed oil has a moderately high flash point that’s even better suited to infusions or dressings. Making pesto? Use a mild EVOO olive oil that allows the herbs of your choosing to shine. Drizzling a salad? Use a full bodied fruity first-cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil to relish the taste. Finishing a sauce? A tad of butter enriches like nothing else. Baking? You know the only answer.
Everything’s betta with butta.