Thursday, October 13, 2016

Commodities: A Look At Butter

There are very few pure-play butter equities (none) and the futures trade by appointment.
The cash market is where it's at if you want exposure.

From Lucky Peach:

Fancy Butter Taste Test
One man, twenty-three fancy butters.

This comes from our “Cooks and Chefs III: Fine Dining” issue, on newsstands now. For more stories like this, subscribe to the magazine

Like many of you (I assume, no offense), I am a fully grown adult who lives with  roommates. The epicenter of a household like ours is the kitchen. In our home, we generally share our food, especially if one of us gets a surplus of something.
When this magazine told me that for my next assignment I’d be receiving twenty-three packages of fancy butter, I couldn’t help but feel like a capital-G, capital-R Good Roommate. More than a good roommate, actually. I felt like a rapper who had struggled for years, finally made it big, and then let all the people who had stood by him join in on his new lavish lifestyle. Since there are so many ways to use butter (on toast, in baking in a pan, on veggies, in sauces, as a terrible thing to put in your coffee, etc.), I also felt like a hunter-gatherer who’d brought enough dead animal carcasses back to the cave to last his tribe for two winters.

The only catch was that before any of this butter could enter into our kitchen ecosphere, I’d have to taste-test it. I should summarize the conditions of the test itself. Please read this very quickly, like the side effects at the end of a TV drug advertisement: the initial taste test was conducted over the course of two days via a spoonful (or spoonfuls) of each butter, with no bread, crackers, or accompaniment of any kind. I attempted (with varying success) to ignore the text on the butter until after the test was completed. Additional testing was done intermittently on toasted white bread.

Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter

(salted) (Ireland)

This feels like a good starting butter. The shiny gold packaging communicates fanciness, a design trope I’ll see again and again over the course of this tasting. Also, like many of the other butters, 

Kerrygold extols the conditions that their cows are kept in, specifically the lush Irish grass that the cows feed on all day. While Irish butter is not as romantic as butter from, say, France or Italy, it’s still from Europe, so I’m still turned on a little! ;) The color is not the deepest yellow but not the lightest, either. It tastes like extremely good butter tastes. It kind of creeps up on you and builds like a rich, creamy crescendo as it melts in your mouth. Someone arrest me for what I just typed.



Organic Spring Hill Jersey Butter

European Style (salted) (California)
At first I’m like, Man, all-American Jersey butter? That’s what I’m talking about! This is the type of butter you eat when you’re blasting some Bruce in your muscle car on your way to work at the factory. 

But it turns out that Jersey is a breed of cow, originally from Jersey, a small “bailiwick” that is a part of the Channel Islands, between England and France. Bruce would never be caught dead in a bailiwick!

It tastes a lot like butter. It’s more mild than the last one. But still buttery. I don’t exactly know how to write this article.



Somerdale English Country Butter

(Salted) (England)

More gold packaging, more language about cows grazing in lush pastures. One thing I should note: a lot of reviews of this butter noted that it was specifically “better than Kerrygold.” To me, it’s not. It has comparable richness (which is to say, very rich), but it’s a bit sharper, almost like cheese. I make a note to myself: Is cheese butter?





Les Prés Salés Butter

(with coarse sea salt from Camargue) (Belgium)
The packaging is tasteful—a red-and-blue design printed on thin parchment paper. There’s an illustration of a boy piling up salt from the sea. Is that the secret behind this butter? A small boy in an odd hat gathers all the salt? The butter itself is a bit sweaty. The color is spotty, with darker bits of yellow. The salt is large and visible and really makes its presence known. I’m hit by a quick rush of saltiness that lingers, followed by a wave of sweetness.



Haverton Hill Creamery Sheep Butter

(lightly salted with sea salt) (California)

This butter is the color of lemon sorbet. The texture is markedly different from the butters thus far, not as smooth, less easily spreadable, and much more likely to break apart as you try to slice it. There’s something slightly off about the flavor, almost a sour note. It might be that it spoiled while en route to my house, but I’m more inclined to believe that sheep just produce sour-tasting butter. Some farming message boards reveal that sheep’s milk is often higher in fat and that sheep are more difficult to get milk from. My solution? Let’s stop milking sheep!!!! Just kidding.


Sierra Nevada Cheese Company

European Style Vat-Cultured Butter (salted)  (California)
The packaging is silver, so you already know it’s less fancy. They claim to have no more than three cows per acre, that those cows roam the pastures for more than three hundred days a year, and that they observe sustainable farming practices such as “rotational grazing.” I make another note to myself: Rotational grazing? Do they put the cow on a big ol’ spinning bed??? Lol. This one is light in color and has a pretty mellow flavor....