We grew up with a mom who had a wicked palate, and if she was brand loyal, you knew that brand was the best in its category. Mom only used Land O’Lakes butter; in fact, that’s how we came to know, at the tender age of five, that Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
Mom was a great baker as well as cook, and she’d have loved the new Land O’Lakes European Style Butter, now available in select markets across the country (check out Kroger, Safeway, Super Target and Walmart). The suggested retail price is $3.79 for a half-pound package of two individually wrapped sticks, in both salted and unsalted varieties.
We have long used Plugrá, an American brand made in the European style, and Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter, which, as an import, is even pricier ($4.98 for a half-pound at our specialty food store). Both have 82% milkfat. We love the extra flavor they give to pastries, pie crusts and laminated dough, such as croissants; in fact, you can definitely taste the difference in a buttery croissant. Heavenly!
Professional bakers who make artisan products have long used European-style butter, purchased in bulk. American consumers could find Kerrygold and Plugrá in some specialty food stores; and to a lesser extent, the 86% fat European-style butters from Straus Family Creamery of California and Vermont Creamery.
But now, with Land O’ Lakes’ national distribution, European-style butter is available to most people—just in time for the holiday baking frenzy. It also enhances butter-based sauces.
Note, though, that Land O’ Lakes’ and Kerrygold’s 82% butter still give the advantage to the 86% varieties from Straus Family Creamery and Vermont Creamery, if you want to pay for the best.
Beyond baking and cooking, you can use European-style butter as a bread spread on artisan bread. As an indulgence for bread and butter lovers, there’s nothing better than Vermont Creamery’s Cultured Butter Blended with Sea Salt & Maple spread on a slice of fine baguette.
TOP PHOTO: The new butter in town is even richer and creamier than regular butter. BOTTOM PHOTO: Yum: Linguine and lobster in a butter sauce. The recipe is below. Photos courtesy Land O’ Lakes.
U.S. butter consumption has been steadily on the rise, and—counter-intuitive to the healthier foods movement— have embraced higher-fat butters as well. The American Butter Institute reports that per-capita consumption in 2014 was 5.6 pounds, a 40-year high. According to Mintel, younger consumers (between ages 18-34) are also using more butter annually.
WHAT IS EUROPEAN STYLE BUTTER?
European-style butter, also called cultured butter, is slow churned for a longer time to give it an extra-creamy texture, lower moisture content and higher milkfat (butterfat) content. In the case of Land O’ Lakes, the brand’s conventional 80% milkfat is increased to 82%.
In the U.S., butter with more than 82% milkfat is considered European-style. While European-style super premium butters comprise only about 1% of the entire U.S. market volume, the category is growing.
Churning for a longer time decreases the moisture content and increases the fat content. It allows more flavor to develop in the cream. Butter with less fat contains more water, which can act as an unwelcome binding agent, gluing down layers of dough to create a tougher pastry. More fat, less moisture is better for baking, especially for crusts, flaky pastries and laminated dough like croissants. It also adds more flavor and texture to sauces.
Why isn’t all American butter made in the richer European-style? It’s more expensive to take the time to churn out the moisture to create a higher-fat butter. The USDA says that butter must have a minimum of 80% milkfat, so that’s what most brands provide.
For more information, visit LandOLakes.com.
European-style butter is just one type of butter. See our butter glossary for the different types of butter.
RECIPE: GOOEY BUTTER SHORTBREAD
Nothing shows off the quality of butter better than shortbread. This recipe from Land O’ Lakes makes shortbreadeven richer, with a buttery topping. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 2 hours.
Ingredients For 24 Pieces
For The Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup European Style Butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons European Style Butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Optional: powdered sugar for garnish
For The Topping
Make this gooey butter shortbread with European-style butter. Photo courtesy Land O’ Lakes.
1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray the foil lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. COMBINE all the crust ingredients in a bowl and beat at medium speed just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press the dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
3. MAKE the topping: Combine the water, corn syrup and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside. Place the tablespoons butter, sugar and salt in bowl and beat until well combined. Add the egg and beat until well mixed. Add the flour alternately with the corn syrup mixture, beating until well mixed after each addition.
4. SPREAD the topping evenly over the shortbread crust. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
RECIPE: BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER WITH LINGUINE
Here’s another yummy recipe from Land O’ Lakes. It’s National Pasta Month, so treat yourself. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 25 minutes.
Ingredients For 4 Servings
6 ounces linguine pasta, cooked al dente, drained but not rinsed
1/4 cup European Style Butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped leek
1/2 cup low sodium or unsalted chicken stock
2 tablespoons Pernod liqueur*
8 ounces lobster meat, cut into 2-inch pieces (substitute 8 ounces large raw, peeled shrimp)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Salt, to taste
Optional garnish: copped fresh parsley
1. MELT the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat until sizzling. Add the leek and cook 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and Pernod; cook 1 minute or until there is bubbling around the edges.
2. ADD the lobster pieces; cook 3-4 minutes or until the lobster turns pink. Remove the lobster from sauce and cover to keep warm. Continue cooking the sauce another 4-5 minutes until the sauce is reduced to about 3/4 cup.
3. STIR in the cream and salt. Add the pasta; toss lightly to coat. Cook 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Place the pasta onto a serving dish; top with the lobster. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
*If you don’t have Pernod, you can substitute absinthe or Herbsaint. Don’t substitute anise liqueur in this recipe—it’s too sweet for a savory dish. However, you can make a close-enough substitute with anise: Combine 1 tablespoon of anise seeds, ideally toasted in a dry pan for a 2 minutes, with 1 cup of vodka in an airtight jar. Let it infuse for a week in a dark place. If you don’t have the time, simmer the seeds in the vodka for 20 minutes strain them out.
THE HISTORY OF BUTTER
Where would we be without butter? Here’s the history of butter, which dates back to 2,000 years before Christ in the written record.
ABOUT LAND O’ LAKES
Land O’Lakes, Inc. is a dairy cooperative based in Minnesota, focusing on the dairy industry. The third largest co-op in the U.S., it is one of the largest producers of butter and cheese in the country, and handles 12 billion pounds of milk annually.
In addition to milk and butter products, it also markets Alpine Lace cheese and Kozy Shack pudding, among other products.