Butter is one of those things you love or hate. I love it but I monitor how much I use on vegetables because too much of anything can be bad but when it comes to baking I have some definite preferences just like every other cook out there.
I love cooking with butter for cookies, cakes, and breads but I have other family members who think its a waste of money and stick with margarine.
If you are like me, you've noticed an increase in the number and types of butter have been increasing from the two - salted and unsalted that used to grace the shelf. So in the interest of educating myself and others, I am sharing what I've learned.
1. Regular salted and unsalted, the type that's been on the shelves forever. The salted variety is best on toast, pancakes, and waffles which is how I love it. Butter made in the United States is required to have 80% butter fat. It is considered a sweet cream butter because it is made out of fresh pasteurized milk. The unsalted is better used in baking or in making pan sauces because the amount of salt needs to be controlled.
2. Next is Grass Fed butter made from the milk of grass fed cows. The butter is yellower, with a more grassy flavor. Some say its healthier than regular butter but I don't know for sure. This version also comes in both salted and unsalted and can be used in the same way.
3. Coming from a slightly different avenue is cultured butter, originally made from cream that has begun to ferment. In today's world they add bacterial to obtain the same results as natural fermentation. Cultured butter comes in both salted and unsalted versions but its said to provide a bit more tang than both regular and grass fed.
4. You'll also see butter labelled as "European" which is a label that could mean its from a specific area such as Bordeaux or it means butter made somewhere in Europe but most of it is classified as cultured butter. In general, European butter is required to contain 82% butter fat as opposed to the 80% required in the United States. This means it will taste a bit richer than you are used to. It also produces fluffier cakes and flakier than normal pastries.
5. Of course there is always Ghee also known as clarified butter where the butter is heated so that only the butter fat remains. Clarified butter smokes at a higher temperature than regular butter, lasts longer than regular butter due to the reduced amount of water. It is frequently used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine.
6. Then there is clotted cream which is made out of cream that is indirectly heated and cooled in shallow pans so small clots rise to the surface, separating from the rest. This is used in the United Kingdom as part of afternoon tea. Due to the high amount of butter fat, it is classified as a butter in the United States.
You will find whipped butter which has air blended into it to make it lighter while spreadable butter has oil added to make it easier to smooth on toast but they both use regular butter. Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear. Have a great day.