Foodies are falling for luxury butters in a big way

Butter has long been a staple of most household fridges, and before that in larders and cold stores, but now this essential ingredient is going up in the world, with new luxury butters proving to be a big hit with food enthusiasts.

The artisan treatment

Bread, cheese and chocolate are just a few of the foods, which have enjoyed the attentions of artisans in recent years, and now it’s the turn of the baker’s essential, butter. Artisans are increasingly creating luxury butters that take this cooking essential to another level. So, what’s the secret to success that sets them apart from the buttery crowd?

“Butter is now very popular,” Patricia Michelson, founder and director of La Fromagerie, a London-based artisan food and drinks supplier, told FoodNavigator. “We have a saying here in LF, ‘everything tastes better with butter’, and a good quality butter can elevate the simplest of meals from breakfast through to late night snack into something rather wonderful.”

“We slow churn our butters in small batches, giving them their distinct colour and flavour. We spend time and effort on the production process to ensure we maintain the quality we want. We don’t believe in doing things fast, we take our time to blend our butters by hand, using our wooden butter paddles and our customers say the taste is better.”

The cream of the crop

Luxury butters are made using high-quality ingredients and avoid the use of additives and preservatives.

“We source amazing cream from a local farmer who keeps a single herd of grass-fed cows. This means we don’t mix creams from different farms,” managing director of Abernethy Butter Allison Abernethy told FoodNavigator.

Luxury butters also draw attention for their production processes. They’re made by hand and often utilise traditional materials which appeals to increasing consumer desire for eco-conscious food production as well as evoking the simplicity of the past.

“We slow churn our butters in small batches, giving them their distinct colour and flavour. We spend time and effort on the production process to ensure we maintain the quality we want. We don’t believe in doing things fast, we take our time to blend our butters by hand, using our wooden butter paddles. Our customers say the taste is better,” adds Abernethy.

Manufacturers of luxury butters are also mixing things up, with a whole variety of flavours such as black garlic, dulse (a type of wild seaweed), truffle, chilli, and raspberry to name but a few. This adds some variation to the age-old question, salted or unsalted?

This adventurous new take on butter may explain why some butter enthusiasts are not just spreading it on their morning toast but eating it with a teaspoon as a treat. This is perhaps a more unusual trend, though fans argue they are enjoying the product in its most pure form.

Foodies are falling for luxury butters in a big way. GettyImages/FreshSplash

Why are luxury butters booming?

Fans of the podcast, Off Menu, will have heard CMAT waxing lyrical to presenters, James and Ed, about her love for butter and of her ongoing efforts to source the elusive Bordier Butter by Jean-Yves Bordier. French butter maker, Bordier Butter, has apparently become so sought after that buying it has become a butter-based challenge for connoisseurs of the creamy spread. Its scarcity could be, in part, due to the fact Jean-Yves Bordier does not believe in rushing the process, as he follows the Bordier motto, “give time to time”.

The global butter market is worth a colossal 31.2 billion USD (28.84 bn Euros) showing just how well loved the ingredient is. It’s unsurprising then that luxury butters have emerged as a natural evolution of the ingredient.  

“I think it’s like all foods now – people buy the best they can afford with the least nasties in it. Our butter only has cream and salt in it but still has a twelve-week shelf life,” adds Abernethy.

“There is definitely a shift towards provenance, how things are made – not mass, no additives, getting back to fresh and buying little and often” agrees Michelson. “This is better for our health but also takes in an understanding of what we are putting into our bodies.”

However, some would dispute the use of the term ‘luxury’ claiming that these are merely good quality products.

“You may think that we are enjoying luxury butters but, in fact, we are enjoying good butter, made well from raw ingredients that have had care and attention,” adds Michelson.

Are there health benefits to butter?

Butter endured close scrutiny during the eighties and nineties, as people began to view it solely as a source of saturated fat and therefore unhealthy.

Guidance from the British Heart Foundation states that “eating a diet high in saturated fat is associated with raised levels of non-HDL (bad) cholesterol. This is linked to an increased risk of heart and circulatory disease. That’s why official recommendations emphasise the importance of reducing saturated fat in our diets.”

However, when eaten in moderation, butter offers multiple health benefits. It’s a good source of vitamin A, which supports physical development and immune function, and also contains Butyrate, a fatty acid, which supports gut health.