I will happily eat butter the way most people eat cheese. I usually try to put a little piece of something under it (bread, or whatever) because it seems gauche not to. But I don’t really see anything untoward about eating my butter on its own. I would certainly eat a piece of cheese unaccompanied and they’re both from milk gone better.
Butter is more than just a substance to wet my toast. I savor the really good stuff, the higher fat, well-salted European butter. I swear if I saw a jumper on the GW bridge, I’d plead with him to just take one bite of bread thickly spread with rich salted butter and tell him if he still wanted to jump after that I wouldn’t interfere. Because I know that moment when it hit his tongue—that flash of pleasure– would change everything. I’d be like the Clarence of butter.
I wasn’t all that interested when a company whose butter I love announced they are coming out with a new spreadable version. I love the butter just the way it is. If I want it spreadable, I can just leave it out at room temperature for a little while. I don’t usually need butter when I am in a hurry.
It’s the story behind this butter that intrigued me. It is not spreadable because of an added chemical—or even an added natural ingredient. The ingredients are exactly the same as in their regular butter: pasteurized cream, salt and milk.
In the summer months, cows produce milk that is naturally higher in softer milk fat. The summer milk is then churned in such a way, says Kerrygold, that it maximizes the softness to enhance the spreadability.
We (my husband David and I) wanted to see if that summer milk makes butter that in any way tastes different, so we did a blind taste test comparing the spreadable butter with Kerrygold’s regular butter. We allowed both to soften at room temperature to avoid letting texture influence our assessment of flavor. I stirred the regular butter vigorously to liken the texture to the spreadable butter and spread each on a small piece of bread. David gave it his all, tasting one and then another several times, all in the name of science. And an excuse to eat more and more butter. We could not taste the difference.
Here’s the real problem with the spreadable butter, and the reason I’m not sure I want it around. It makes it too easy to smear a generous slather of butter quickly and on just about anything. It makes bread with butter a go-to snack. Crackers I used to nibble plain now cry for a quick dab of creamy butter, and previously salted radishes now call for dairy. I can’t keep this stuff around: it makes butter too easy.