It’s been a few months that France is facing a historic butter shortage. The lack of butter is probably one of the most terrible threat for French people. I’m not kidding! This ingredient is the basis of French cuisine, not to mention pastries. This is the reason why headlines are so dramatic: “France terrorized by butter shortage”, “The Butter Crisis”, “Worst shortage since WWII” and so on. As a true French, I get goose bumps at the sole idea of free-from-butter aisles at the grocery stores.
Time has come for a heartfelt confession: I consider myself partly responsible for this terrible situation. As a tireless baker, my consumption exceeds from far the average one. The only redemption I could find is by helping you finding the perfect butter to successfully cook your french recipes.
What is the difference between European and American butter?
When I arrived in Chicago, I gave American butter a try. And it was definitely not the same experience compared to European one. Usually when you ask yourself why something tastes better, there is a main reason: it’s fatter. Butter makes no exception. European butter is churned longer to contain at least 82% fat versus 80% for the American one. It makes the taste richer. Believe me you can taste the difference with closed eyes.
Salted or Unsalted Butter?
France is still divided because of this question. I think it is a personal choice and it really depends of your taste. My own personal feeling leads me to choose unsalted butter no matter what. I can hear half of French people blustering from where I am!
If there should be a rule, go with unsalted when you bake and choice is yours when it comes to spread. Just keep in mind, everything tastes better with butter.
And my favorite butters are…
Needless to say that if you’re willing to pay the price, Pastoral has a wonderful selection of fresh butters directly imported from France. However, if you’re a crazy baker like me and use an average of 1 1/2 pound per week, you have already figured that you’ll soon need to contract a loan to keep baking intensively.
So, here is my ranking of affordable butters with a delicate taste of France that you can easily find at the grocery store:
N°1 – Le Beurre Président
It’s no surprise as this butter is directly imported from France. Even in France, le beurre Président is always considered a good value. Here it is a bit different, I find it very expensive. The pack size is 7oz versus 250g (about 9oz) in France and it is literally twice the price. Anyway, the taste is really superior to my other favorites, so I usually stock up when it’s on sale.
N° 2 – Land O’Lakes European style Super Premium Butter
A serious competitor Made in USA. Land O’Lakes is a company based in Minnesota specialized in dairy and eggs. They offer a wide range of butters. So wide that I didn’t know that so many types could exist. Have you ever heard of the Pumpkin Pie Spice Butter spread?! They have it! Luckily, they also produce the European style butter. It is very close in taste and texture to french butter. Even if it is a bit less flavorful compare to Président, it is still perfect for cooking and baking.
N°3 – KerryGold Pure Irish Butter
If you have ever flown with United Airlines in Economy, you can recognize it as the only edible food of your meal tray. Kerrygold is a huge agri-food cooperative from Ireland as you could guess. The pure Irish butter is probably the best value for money of the ranking, especially if you have the Costco membership. It tastes great and it is perfect to bake flaky pastries.
The Outsider: Beurre de Chimay from Belgium
I was not sure if I include this butter in my ranking because it is very difficult to find. For now, the only grocery store where it is available is Fresh Farm in Niles, IL. Have you ever found it at any other places? I would be very interested to know where! Fresh Farm also sells amazing French cheeses. A word to the wise! Le beurre de Chimay is definitely my favorite one, over Président. It is produced in Belgium close to the French border and travel all the way to the United States. It is creamier and so tasty that it never lasts more than a week in our fridge. Try it and you’re gonna love it.
My buttery tips
Though butter is a very cheap ingredient in France, here in the United States it is usually sold twice the price. Therefore, each time there is a sale on one of those 4 brands, I seriously stock up. Don’t look at the “sell by” date, you can absolutely freeze your butter for weeks.