More than 95% of chefs in Europe claim that butter is essential for cooking and baking, especially due to its flavour. Fragrant, textured, creamy butters in the kitchen tells a story with new uses of butter having emerged, disrupting classic recipes and defining future trends, we take a look at the origin, quality and use of French butter.
This product is more than just an ingredient, it is a flavour enhancer. Used both in elaborate kitchens and simple recipes, the face of butter has changed. No-one hesitates to put it out on the table or highlight it as a noble product. Indispensable to new culinary trends, butter is a source of inspiration that never grows old.
Discovering the land of butter
Earlier this year, journalists from the region had the chance to discover French butter, its origin and specifics during a trip in France organised by the European Union and the French dairy board. France is the country where residents consume around eight kg of butter a year, the highest per capita figure in the world and twice the EU average.
The visit began with a trip to a family farm, Beillevaire – located near the city of Nantes, to learn the techniques of milking, churning, and making butter. With vast facilities containing thousands of cows, Beillevaire farm hosts about 70 and 160 Holstein cows. The cows can graze in the meadows between late March and November, with daily production per animal restricted to about 30 l to maintain high fat content for butter making. Butter production at the Beillevaire plant is characterised by the use of 100-year-old churns made from teak. This churning produces grains of butter that undergo further processing.
The next stop was Rennes, the capital of the Brittany region where the visitors had the opportunity to walk around the factory of the famous butter artisan M. Bordier, from the French brand Le Beurre Bordier. Le Beurre Bordier produces about a dozen of flavoured butters, including seaweed butter, buckwheat butter and lemon or olive oil butter.
Travelling to the Pays de La Loire region, the group also visited Lactopole in Laval. The dairy museum by Lactalis, the first French dairy exporter, offered an opportunity to make butter from dairy cream, thanks to a simple butter churner.
The trip ended in Paris, the international capital of pastry, where pastry chef Yann Couvreur invited the group to his new café in Galeries Lafayette Gourmet Paris, to discover his flagship pastries, the famous Kouign-Amman and viennoiseries.
Expert tips to use butter
- To make it easier to spread, remove the butter from the fridge and leave it at room temperature for at least an hour.
- To quickly soften butter which is too cold, just cut it into pieces, wrap it in a damp cotton cloth, and knead it for a few seconds.
- If the butter has absorbed smells from the fridge, an ice water bath will give it a second youth. Just dry it after the process. This can be done as many times as necessary.
- Butter can be frozen for up to two months.
- To make a butter sauce, the butter must always be incorporated by whisking it off the heat.
- Calm down crackling in the pan by adding a pinch of salt before melting the butter, then a pinch of flour when it is melting.
- To prevent the formation of a skin on the surface of bechamel sauce, coat it with a little melted butter.