Butter Me Up Scotty!

butter-and-baking

No big surprise, I love butter (and yes, I’m a Trekkie). I remember watching my mom churn butter as a kid and then later helping to churn it. My favorite part was when it was time to “taste”. We got to stick our finger into the glass churn and take a bit to see if it had enough salt. Man that was good!!

My next butter epiphany came when I discovered European Plugra ( pronounced PLOO-GRA) European butter has a higher butterfat content, so is richer in flavor. It is also cultured so that gives it a different flavor profile then US butter.  I fell deep in love with it during a trip to Germany several years ago. Oh, the deep flavor and nuances! 

 

“Butter is a culinary treasure as old as King Tut’s tomb.  “She brought forth butter in a lordly dish” (Judges 5:25). A jug of wine, a loaf of bread – and butter… and oh, yeah thee!

Pure unsalted butter is what makes croissants melt in your mouth goodness so , well…good! Try them with chocolate in the center before you shape and bake them and you pretty much have “food for the god’s!”

Pure butter is produced today essentially as it was in King Tut’s time, al though butter is now made of milk from cows instead of camels or water buffaloes.”

Here are some of my thoughts: unsalted butter is always preferable to salted butter because older cream can be used in salted butter, not only is salt a preservative it can mask old cream.

Bakers like European butter because of the process that it goes through. Europeans use the “cultured” process…see below.

Butter has it’s own “terroir ” depending on the breed of cows, what they ate and the location  they produce from because of fauna (what the eat) and the time of the year. The time of year it is produced can also change the color of butter. Butter produced in Devonshire has a different taste than butter produced in Normandy. Irish butter has a different flavor than butter produced in Germany. I like artisan butter for just those reasons. 

  • Stories of butter having an “off” flavor because a cow may have eaten
  • It takes 21 pounds of fresh, wholesome cow’s milk to make each pound of butter .
  • While you can keep butter at room temperature for many days without worrying about spoilage, air and light break down butter’s molecular structure. The result? Butter that smells and tastes rancid. To keep butter fresh at room temperature, use a butter keeper. Store extra butter in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container, since butter easily picks up odors from other foods.
  • Contrary to popular belief, adding vegetable oil to butter in a frying pan will not keep it from scorching at high heat. Instead, use clarified butter, which can be heated to 400°F without burning.
  • When it comes time to add dots of butter to pies and casseroles, use a vegetable peeler and a frozen stick of butter. It’s much less messy!

 

“Melting at just below body temperature, butter has a luscious mouth feel that imparts a rich, creamy taste to everything it touches. Think of fresh bread spread with butter, velvety mashed potatoes, or flaky butter cookies. Just a little butter adds flavor to everything from pancakes, vegetables, and sauces to pastries and cakes. Butter effortlessly carries other flavors, and is often the vehicle for delivering garlic, herbs, citrus, or nuttiness to both savory and sweet dishes.

Yet in the second half of the twentieth century, butter – one of the great flavors and most important ingredients in a cook’s repertoire – was reported to be the gateway to a host of health problems. We now know that butter’s negative reputation was undeserved, and instead that butter substitutes and man-made trans fats are the true culprits that pose threats to our health.

Indeed, recent studies reveal just how important butter is to a healthy diet. It supplies our bodies with vitamins and minerals; boosts our immune system; helps hormone production; and supports our bones, organs, and most importantly, our brain. Good natural butter is satisfying and can even help with maintaining a healthy weight.

The bottom line? Get out your mixing bowl or saucepan, roll up your sleeves, and embrace the joys (and challenges) of cooking with butter, and savor its unique, irreplaceable taste.”

In many ways, butter is unique in the world of fat. It doesn’t require us to kill the animal in order to obtain it, and without us it wouldn’t exist. The fat content of butter ranges from 80% to 86%, and the rest is water and milk solids. This means that butter isn’t pure fat; rather, it is an emulsion. As a result, butter must be handled with more care than other fats in the kitchen. Warm butter can be chilled again, but if the butter gets too hot the emulsion will break and chilling will not bring it back. The milk solids in butter’s emulsion burn at the relatively low temperature of 250°F/121°C, so butter is not as useful for cooking at high temperatures. To use butter at higher temperatures it must be clarified. This simply means melting the butter over low heat until it separates into butterfat and milk. The butterfat, or clarified butter is poured off, leaving the milk solids behind. However, much of butter’s distinctive flavor is in the milk solids, so clarified butter doesn’t have the same taste as melted butter.

Butter marries perfectly with sugar and is an undisputed star in the dessert kitchen. It adds lots of flavor, making tasty cookies, crisp pie shells, and light, flaky puff pastry. Many dessert recipes, such as butter cookies, rely entirely on butter for their taste. High fat butters give the richest taste and their lower water content produces the best results. While the choice between cultured or sweet butter is personal, unsalted butter is often preferred for cooking because the amount of salt can be controlled.

Which fat to use when?
Animal fats are excellent for cooking because their low polyunsaturated fatty acid content makes them stable when heated and slower to oxidize. So the question becomes: which fat to use when?

Food author Jennifer McLagan contributed this page to WebExhibits. Her book, “Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes” is published by Ten Speed Press.

http://www.webexhibits.org/butter/cooking.html

Here is some basic information about butter:

Definition: Cream churned into a solid state

In the U.S. butter must contain at least 80% milk fat, and the USDA grades its quality on flavor, body, texture, color and salt (AA, A, B, and C).  Sweet butter is simply made with sweet, as opposed to sour cream.  All butter is salted unless it specifically says unsalted, in which case it has absolutely no salt.

Unsalted is preferred in baking so the baker has control over the salt content, but is more perishable (salt is a preservative). Whipped butter has air beaten into it, which makes it easier to spread when cold. Light or reduced-calorie butter has about half the fat as regular through the addition of other stuff (skim milk, water, gelatin, read the label).

How to select: Butter is perishable, check the pack date at the store before you buy.

How to store: Butter will pick up any kind of odor, so store air tight in the refrigerator, 1 month for regular and 2 weeks for unsalted, or both in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Substitutions: margarine, do not substitute whipped or low-fat butter when baking; 1 stick of butter = 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup = 1/4 pound; To cut cholesterol and fat, you can also use oils in place of butter on a 1:1 ratio in some recipes, although texture and taste are often affected. This must simply be worked with.

http://www.recipezaar.com/library/getentry.zsp?id=141

Compound Butters:

 These can be made from almost anything, from your favorite herbs & spices , fruits or vegetables  to chocolate, honey and liquers.

Take unsalted butter and a mixer. Soften the butter just enough to be pliable and add your favorite thing!

Roll and wrap in parchment paper, refrigerate to harden. Cut off slices and put on your favorite bread, fish, chicken or pasta!

In the freezer compound butter will last in  parchment paper and palstic wrap to protect the flavors from outside influences that linger in your freezers, up to 6 months.

In the refrigerator probably about 3 months.

Be creative and have fun!

The word butter derives (via Germanic languages) from the Latin butyrum, which is borrowed from the Greek boutyron. This may have been a construction meaning “cow-cheese” (bous“ox, cow” + tyros “cheese”), or the word may have been borrowed from another language, possibly Scythian.[2] The root word persists in the name butyric acid, a compound found inrancid butter and dairy products such as Parmesan cheese.

 

Before modern factory butter making, cream was usually collected from several milkings and was therefore several days old and somewhat fermented by the time it was made into butter. Butter made from a fermented cream is known as cultured butter. During fermentation, the cream naturally sours as bacteria convert milk sugars into lactic acid. The fermentation process produces additional aroma compounds, including diacetyl, which makes for a fuller-flavored and more “buttery” tasting product.[3] Today, cultured butter is usually made from pasteurized cream whose fermentation is produced by the introduction of Lactococcus and Leuconostoc bacteria.

Another method for producing cultured butter, developed in the early 1970s, is to produce butter from fresh cream and then incorporate bacterial cultures and lactic acid. Using this method, the cultured butter flavor grows as the butter is aged in cold storage. For manufacturers, this method is more efficient since aging the cream used to make butter takes significantly more space than simply storing the finished butter product. A method to make an artificial simulation of cultured butter is to add lactic acid and flavor compounds directly to the fresh-cream butter; while this more efficient process is claimed to simulate the taste of cultured butter, the product produced is not cultured but is instead flavored.

When heated, butter quickly melts into a thin liquid.

Dairy products are often pasteurized during production to kill pathogenic bacteria and other microbes. Butter made from pasteurized fresh cream is called sweet cream butter. Production of sweet cream butter first became common in the 19th century, with the development of refrigeration and the mechanical cream separator.[4] Butter made from fresh or cultured unpasteurized cream is called raw cream butter. Raw cream butter has a “cleaner” cream flavor, without the cooked-milk notes that pasteurization introduces.

Throughout Continental Europe, cultured butter is preferred, while sweet cream butter dominates in the United States and the United Kingdom. Therefore, cultured butter is sometimes labeled European-style butter in the United States. Commercial raw cream butter is virtually unheard-of in the United States. Raw cream butter is generally only found made at home by consumers who have purchased raw whole milk directly from dairy farmers, skimmed the cream themselves, and made butter with it. It is rare in Europe as well.[5]

Ghee-clarified butter-India

Vermont Butter & Cheese-http://butterandcheese.net/atTheCreamery.html

BUTTER IN A CLASS BY ITSELF. 
 
Plugrá Butter Defined. 
Plugrá, (pronounced PLOO GRA), is a European style butter lower in moisture and higher in butterfat than conventional butters. Plugrá butter imparts a richer taste and smoother texture to foods and is long preferred by leading chefs, bakers, confectioners and anyone who appreciates fine food. 
 
What’s the Difference? 
Regular butter contains 80% butterfat. The remaining 20% consists of water and milk solids. Plugrá European Style Butter contains 2% more butterfat and is slow-churned in a way that creates a lower-moisture, creamier texture than other butters. 
 
When Should I Use Unsalted Plugrá Butter? 
In the preparation of baked goods, confections, pastries, sweet goods, sauces and as a spreading butter. Any time a recipe calls for butter, we recommend using Unsalted Plugrá butter. This allows you to control the salt content like a professional baker or chef. 
 
When Should I Use Salted Plugrá Butter? 
Salted butter is best served at the table. It may contain more salt than called for when baking or cooking. You may serve it in slices, whipped or in a small ramekin. For a decorative effect, use a melon-baller, pipe it through a pastry bag or curl it with a spoon. 
 
Why is Plugrá Butter Better for Baking? 
Plugrá butter contains less water than regular butter. Lower moisture means that cakes will rise higher, cookies will crisp more evenly and pie crusts or croissants will be flakier. A higher butterfat content means that all your baked goods will taste better when baked with Plugrá butter.

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