05/14/2013 11:10 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Is Better Butter Better? My Top 4 Butters

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The Accidental Locavore has noticed that unlike olive oil, where certain celebrity cooks have made us all crazy with the screech towards EVOO, butter has remained on the sidelines. Even though we all know butter makes everything better, it gets a bad rap in the fat department. And unlike olive oil, where the provenance seems to matter to an occasionally ridiculous degree, we don't seem to get that particular about butter. Since I rarely bake, it never seemed to me that jumping to a better (i.e. more expensive, sometimes way more expensive) butter would make that much of a difference. Boy, was I wrong!

In what turned out to be a happy accident, I picked up a stick of Vermont Butter & Cheese butter. At first I didn't think it was making much of an improvement over the usual stuff. Maybe it was just that in the winter, nothing is going to make vegetables shipped from faraway places taste better, but I couldn't taste a difference. Then I used it in a batch of granola. In an instant, my normally pretty good granola (click here for the recipe), ascended to a whole new level! Easily the best tasting I've ever made!

Recently, in the interest of research, I decided to do a taste test with a few different butters I picked up, mostly at Murray's in Grand Central, and compare them to our standard home brand -- Cabot unsalted -- and make a batch of my own. But here was my conundrum: how best to taste and compare? I really didn't need multiple batches of granola, or shortbread, or croissants, although any and all of them would be fine. Would toast be a fair test, or since it's coming into season, asparagus? I finally settled on toast and in a very unscientific test, spread all of them on a couple of pieces of toasted white bread. Both Frank and I agreed that the winner was the French butter, followed by the Danish one, with my homemade butter third. To me, there wasn't a huge difference and any one of them would work well. Again, if you're baking, there may be a big difference. What do you think?

Here's the list in order of preference (all unsalted):
  1. Isigny Ste Marie-Beurre d'Isigny
  2. Lurpak
  3. My DIY butter
  4. Vermont Creamery-Vermont Cultured Butter