As any chef or even home cook can tell you, no two butter brands are created the same — nevermind that it’s often made with just two ingredients: cream and salt.
When it comes to French butter, that’s even more pronounced. For starters, the French take their butter so seriously that all its makers — whether large companies or small artisanal makers — are legally bound to produce butter that’s at least 82 percent fat. It also has to be cultured, which means that live cultures are introduced to the cream before the maker starts churning.
This means that butter from France is richer and tastier than those from other countries. The difference doesn’t stop there. The French also has a recognition system awarded to artisanal producers for being specialty products from a certain region. It’s known as Appellation d’origine contrôlée or AOC for short. It’s a certification of authenticity for agricultural products dating back to 1411 to mark an item as a genuine product from the region. Butters that bear this insignia will thus be legally protected and buyers can be assured of the qualities unique to the region.
Here, we round up three artisanal French butter brands available in Singapore, and find out what makes them so special.
Echire butter is one of the most easily recognised premium French butters in Singapore thanks to its packaging. The butter is from Echiré (Deux-Sèvres), a commune in the west of France that has been produced since 1894. Only milk from cows that graze within 60km of Echire is accepted and 22 litres of it is required to produce 1 kilogram of butter. All of its slabs of goodness are churned slowly over 2.5 hours in teak barrels the traditional way and only after the cream is matured for 18 hours. Today, it is used by Michelin-starred restaurants as much as luxury hotels and well loved for its soft texture and hazelnut undertones.
Le Beurre Bordier
Age-old practices are deeply upheld with Le Beurre Bordier as the company still makes its butter the traditional way. It has only one wooden machine which is used to knead the butter for some thirty minutes after which the butter is pounded by hand. These steps lends it a soft, and elegant texture. Yet Bordier’s beauty reveals itself through the seasons. The taste of the butter depends on what the cows graze on. In summer when the cows munch on fresh grass and flowers, the butter tends to be yellower and more savoury as compared to winter butter when the cows feed on dried grass resulting in butter that is a little sweeter. Jean-Yves Bordier, the artisan who runs the production would say “I haven’t invented anything new, I use old methods that respect the land, the animals, and tradition.”
Brittany based Le Gall produces a range of butters depending on your needs. The Grand Cru range is made from raw milk that’s only slightly heated so the resulting cream preserves all the natural properties and natural bacteria, giving the butter its distinct and pronounced taste. This is ideal for table butter. If you’re intending to cook or bake with your butter, go for the Beurre de Barrate range. Despite the difference, all its butter churned in wooden drums after being matured for 15 hours.