Monday, 16 January 2017

Butter - just butter.

I had an early morning meeting and as I finished earlier than expected I went to the supermarket and it was blissfully empty.

Empty enough to be able to take pictures without people in front of the goods but also so people wouldn't think I was nuts taking pictures of butter.


I love butter.
I absolutely adore it.
My childhood was when margarine was meant to be healthier so there was no butter in the house.
Plus I grew up in Korea before globalisation so butter wasn't really stocked readily nor was it considered a staple for every household.


But I always choose butter. 
It tastes better and while the medical studies are not yet unanimous, it seems it is most likely healthier too - in doses.

My aunt though has been prescribed by her doctor to have these spreads and she says her cholesterol has gone down so obviously you must take advise from medical professionals.


I remember the days when you used to have salted or unsalted.
Those were NOT the good old days of butter.
My grandmother even in the 80's would always note than her own grandmother would have loved supermarket shopping and would have marvelled at the choice and range of food.
That is exactly how I feel when I see the butter section these days.


While we are inundated with so much choice and 
I tend to complain about short circuiting the brain which I have discussed in this post I wrote years ago.

President slightly salted was at one time considered revolutionary!
Organic was only procured at farmer's markets.
Goose fat was only available at the proper delicatessen.
This aisle is the best end result of capitalism.


I would prefer my own dairy cows and churn my own butter in an ideal world.


But I have different butters for different purposes.

There is one butter that is not shown here that I used to use a lot on toast.
It was a white, Italian, alpine butter that was so delicate that even for my chilli scorched and undertasting palette, I would enjoy it on its own on toast.

Now I get really poncy and butter whacky.

I have President salted with jam on toast.
I have the really salty Normandy unpasteurised butter with honey on toast.

I cook veggies in Ghee which is a clarified butter.

I add regular butter to steak or chicken at the end in the pan for extra flavour.
I do try and initially use coconut oil for health benefits but find that goats butter does nothing for me and distracts my tastebuds.

Goose fat if I am doing proper roast potatoes.

But I have no opinion on baking butter as I don't bake.
Although it seems people do use Anchor or Countrylife for that specific purpose.

I think the market stock Echire butter for people to buy for display at dinner parties but personally I think standards of butter has improved so much in the U.K. that unless you have an overtasting and very delicate palette then it might not be worth the money.



I used to hate anything "spreadable" as it seemed unnatural and 
I was sure they must have hydrogenated the butter but it seems technology has advanced and I buy the President for my husband who couldn't stand butter for the reason it would always be the wrong temperature to spread on bread.


You may have a completely different butter range where you live of course!
But this is a snippet of the butter aisle in my local supermarket for those of you who like little snippets of ordinary life.


Are you butter, margarine, coconut oil or "other"?

58 comments:

  1. Butter. Butter FTW.
    I don't think there are any particular benefits of coconut oil.
    Good bread is a vehicle for good butter.
    Was this waitrose?

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    1. Coconut oil seems everywhere including coffee these days. Yes it was waitrose!

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  2. In the days when we lived in Colombo our Sri Lankan doctor told us the reason so many Sri Lankans died from heart disease was because all food there was cooked with coconut oil. So I've avoided it ever since, except on the odd occasions when we've eaten at Sri Lankan restaurants here. My fave lethal Sri Lankan dessert is wattalapam.
    So jealous of your access to such a cornucopia in the butter aisle at your local supermarket. Love French butters, specially the country ones. We used to have a French patisserie nearby (the patissier was from Paris) that sold real French country butter, some with salt, some low, some sans. Sadly he sold up and moved away.
    We now buy mostly organic butter from New Zealand, usually salt free. Also organic from Oz if possible.
    Who knew you were such a butter connoisseur! Pammie

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    1. I think i mentioned before that I used to eat so much butter that my local convenience store thought I was a baker and didn't realise it was only for my toast! Plus I have some friends who think salted butter is the grossest thing whereas unsalted does nothing for me. I have tried whipping my own but found it wasn't great and felt fatty but then I only know how to eat the stuff not make it!

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  3. I am horrendously jealous. Why the hell don't we have more butter here??? I once used coconut oil to fry doughnuts and figured that the virtues of coconut oil would surely counteract the sins of the doughnut, right? The best butter I can get is when I can make it myself if I can find cream from Jersey cows which is becoming ever more difficult. I'm also a fan of homemade whipped butter which is such a pain in the ass but so wonderful.
    I've never cooked with goose fat! Duck fat is a lot easier to get your hands on here which I love. I also grew up in a fake butter (and mayonnaise) house which is why I also had the delightful rebellion of embracing real butter. I've always said that if I were being executed my last meal would just be really good bread and really good salted butter and $15 Cabernet Sauvignon.

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    1. Do you pat and pound your butter? I didn't and think that was why it felt a bit lardy but then again i just used regular cream. Goose fat is meant to be healthy and is part of the gascogne paradox - they eat so much and have the lowest rates of heart disease in France. In the 70's and 80's butter was considered poison and everyone had margarine which I avoided and so I would always enjoy real butter at restaurants where I could get it. My last meal would have to be a buffet!!

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    2. Yes, I find good homemade butter needs a lot of handling and kneading and benefits from an overnight in the fridge drying. And you can brine it which helps that kind of slickness that homemade butter can have too. I had a three month period years ago where I think I made bread and butter every single day. I was obsessively learning and tweaking my techniques on both. Of course my conclusion from this was that I know nothing for sure only what might be best for the atmosphere and temperament of any given day. One of my favorite butter treatments is to do an herb and salt crust on fresh butter and let it dry and settle a bit in the fridge for two days. Damn. bad discussion to have when I'm not eating carbs.

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    3. Yes plus it seems the rate at which you churn makes a difference too - it seems purists say whipping without electricity is better but they don't sell wooden churns around here so readily. My husband made bread every day for awhile and I adored it! That herb salt crust sounds divine and would go great with a rack of lamb or seabass. But you might have noted humidity in air for butter too by the way. Good luck with no carbs - butter with steak then?

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    4. Remember my mother telling me that when she was a girl her mother used to make her own butter. They lived on a big allotment in the then outer suburbs of Brisbane and kept two jersey cows for milking. There were also lots of chickens and home grown veggies and big old fruit trees (mangos, papayas etc). So she always had the best milk, cream, butter and eggs and apparently made fabulous cakes. Even for others for special occasions - she charged for these during the depression to supplement the family income. She was also a dressmaker and tailoress (she could make men's suits and coats as well as women's dresses). I lived with her for a couple of years when I was quite young but by then she'd given up the cows and chickens and wasn't in the best of health - she died when I was ten.
      In the Dordogne/Lot they seem to use duck fat for lots of cooking. The best potatoes I've ever had in my life were those roasted in duck fat!! Absolutely superb! And served with magret de canard. We spent some weeks in a cottage on a farming hillside just outside the Lovely old bastide of Monpazier. It was heaven! Pammie

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    5. I would love a big allotment too - along with those jersey cows. I would like some real hormone free milk when the cow feels like producing it - not that i know how it all works of course. It is funny how nowadays most don't eat as well as we think and that while the older generations didn't have a thai takeaway around the corner - unless of course you were in thailand. People ate not as much but better when they probably did like for like. Duck and potatoes sound very good and perfect for the weather over here too Pammie!

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  4. So much lovely butter. Yes Butter all the way. I can't stand coconut oil even though I do melt it and use it for my home baked granola. That's it though. One of the worst things about being gluten free is not having bread with butter, I mean it's the perfect thing to eat.
    Like SAJ I'm super envious of your butter selection. When we had an extended holiday in France it was pure bliss because we were able to grocery shop and the butter aisle was a thing of beauty.
    I've never had margarine, grew up with butter which was unusual for the 70's/80's in my hometown. We had lots of processed foods but always had real butter. xx

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    1. Coconut oil on toast just doesn't do anything for me and i really hate it in coffee. But I am really happy with my selection here too. France does have good butter but as they are so proud of their own produce they tend to not import butters from other countries so I get a good range here. You did not miss out on margarine!! xx

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  5. I cant believe the range. Here we have two types of butter, two spreads, and maybe one margarine!

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    1. If you don't use butter that is enough I suppose?

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  6. Love this, thank for sharing the photos!! I always check out supermarkets and grocery stores in other countries, and I'm so envious of the butter selection in Europe. At my local supermarket, there's maybe three different brands of butter and that's it. I remember the butter department in Le Bon Marché - so many different kinds and everything beautifully wrapped. I have eaten margarine most of my life but recently switched to a spreadable butter/oil blend and I am really enjoying it. I tried coconut oil but don't like it. Did you ever watch that episode in Mind of a Chef? I would love to know how freshly churned butter would taste!

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    1. Me too! I always check out supermarkets and seeing the produce and shelf goods. Yes I finally saw it again to refresh my memory! That is bliss. The oil blends have come a long way though - they have so many different types too now though they say you can't cook with them though?

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  7. Wow you have the MOST amazing selection of butter available!!!!
    We have only a handful here and I use butter regularly no margarine for us...I like roasted potatoes cooked in duck fat. I have never seen goose fat sold here either...seriously envying your shopping options.

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    1. It is pretty good and I do enjoy the options. Goose fat might be available in smaller delis perhaps? It used to be only sold in small select stores ages ago here too.

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  8. Oh please, butter and case closed. Back in the day little GSL would raid the fridge and get a tube of those raw pre-sliced biscuits, arrange in platoon formation on cookie sheet while oven pre-heating to 450F and 11 minutes later they came out and down the hatch they went. The ones we told mum not to dare come home without were called 'Butter-me-Nots' with little yellow poly-hydrogemated cells speckled thru dough. We of course called them "Butter-me-Lots" because we were rebels...and clever and applied copious amounts of Land-o-Lakes salted.
    Of course, I am the grandson of 'Pete' who famously slathered butter on jelly doughnuts while puffing on Camels.. .this tied him over til 3 martini lunch...don't recall his pilates schedule.

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    1. I miss seeing the land o lakes logo - i had that in the fridge when i lived in the states as whole foods back then were two small stores that were about 12 feet wide!! fags with doughnuts seems like a fulfilled life though unhealthy GSL!

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  9. I am a big fan of butter, although I don't use much of it these days. It is impossible to get good butter in Taiwan, and it is expensive. I see brands you illustrate such as President and Anchor, but they are always rancid-tasting. We get pretty good butter in the U.S., such as Land-o-Lakes or virtually any local unsalted type, but I remember when I was in England I couldn't get over the high quality of the butter and other dairy products.
    --Jim
    p.s. I would never buy salted butter. If you like it that way, you will get a much better and fresher taste by getting sweet (unsalted) butter then adding your own salt.

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    1. Oh I love President bc it is so smooth and it feels like it has been milled or something. I liked LoLakes but it was almost sweet. You too are a unsalted butter person I see - because I have blitzed my taste buds with child since birth I can't taste butter properly unless it is salted!

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  10. In Australia, we have like 4 bands tops! In my opinion, you cannot really cook without butter. I like to smother it on chickens before I roast them, and I use a lot in baking.

    Loved this post! x

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    1. I did note that the last supermarket `i was at in Melbourne and thought it was odd bc Aussies are such foodies. But then I did see a lot more butter in farmer's markets. Yes smothered buttered lemon chicken! xx

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  11. Oh, how I adore butter! There's no other substitute. It is a vehicle for bread in my household and nothing tastes as satisfying as good bread paired with good butter. I remember Flora ("the margerine for men") was popular when I was a child and recall my mother spreading it on Ryvita crackers as part of her slenderization diet. I think she should have just stuck to the real thing. I've not tasted margerine since those crazy health-conscious days, actually.

    I envy your supermarket selection. Yum!

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    1. My selection does seem pretty good although today it didn't stock my Italian butter so I was disappointed! I would seek out some farmer market butter but I now am more realistic about my food shopping and my cooking. It is a good sign that margarine itself is more and more on its way out too.

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  12. How can a photo be both calming and artery hardening?! I'm with you on the goodness of variety.

    Our household always has about five butters on the go - unsalted french everyday for me, salted local organic everyday for hubby,ghee for frying, cheap noname brand unsalted for baking, basic salted for general cooking.... oh and when I can get Pamplie fleur du sel butter I may sometimes just slice little pieces off and eat them.

    Am ashamed to say we also have goose fat, duck fat, lard (savoury pastry!!), tallow and coconut oil in the house. I have a problem...

    Luckily Hobart bucks the general Aussie trend noted above - our local IGA supermarket has over a dozen varieties of which four or five are French and three local organic. They actually keep the two 'high end' French butters separately in the cheese room!

    Won't have margarine in the house. Any food that is grey in its natural state doesn't get fridge space.

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    1. Do not be ashamed!!! Although I have never ever gotten tallow.May I ask what you do with it?? cover fresh cheese? Lard is perfect for fish and chips personally but i buy it bc of the clean up. You must cook a lot I take it - I watch masterchef Australia and have been myself and I love Tassie! I would like to live there actually. I agree - margarine doesn't spoil - something not right there!

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    2. Tallow makes the absolute best fried chips!! Stinks the kitchen up which drives my vegetarian husband crazy but the taste is worth it. I probably don't cook more than most but can't think of much I make that doesn't involve fat.. Tassie is heaven on earth, moved here as a climate refugee from the mainland six years ago and never looked back. Lots of UK escapees here too and a good French presence to help the food scene along.

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    3. I just have to try frying in tallow! I will look out for it. I did love Tassie and next time I visit Australia I'm thinking of going bc the last time was in 2001 and I think it's probably changed so much since then.

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  13. Me too. Me too! So glad to meet a fellow butter lover! On the honeymoon, there was always a little silver dish holding chilled pats of butter on the table. I'd barely wait for the bread guy to come around to devour all all it. My husband had no idea how much I love butter and was pretty shocked. I'd eat it with a spoon if I could get away with it. Love the selection there! Serious butter envy.

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    1. If I had a butler I would make sure there is curled butter even when I have coffee ;P I actually did eat butter with a spoon in Sweden - it was out of control.

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  14. As Julia Child used to say, "everything is better with butter" and I heartedly agree. How fortunate that your market stocks an an exceptional selection. As an avid baker, I always keep butter in stock and will splurge on European style (higher butter fat content) when making shortbread. Nearby farms sell us wonderful eggs but I have yet to discover one that makes its own butter. I think I may attempt making my own which is not difficult with a stand mixer.
    Best,
    KL Gaylin

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    1. Yes hence there was that ad in the 80's - everything is better with blue bonnet on it. Shortbread is just dusty butter which is why i love it so. Eggs here are ok but not as good as the butter selection. I should post next time on my civilian eggs which i enjoy. I can't really keep chickens in London without a garden you see!

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    2. OMG - Dusty butter just made me snort. Love this post. It’s butter all the way here. Usually Lurpak unsalted. The cardio rehab dieticians told Mr T that he would have to eat a bucket of those cholesterol reducing margarines to have any effect and that they were unnecessary. Catching up on your posts from when I was away - so entertaining!!

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  15. Butter. Like the word 'snack' I like how it sounds, I like how it tastes. I am intensely envious of your butter selection.

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    1. Totally agree - so smooth like the object. Butta. I am rather happy with my section too!

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  16. I always tell my children that if I were to require a "last meal" it would be toast and butter. Being a baker used to through lots of unsalted butter in Australia but living in the US now and not baking so rarely buy butter and I don't like the taste here. Nothing wrong with the butter just tastes different.

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    1. Yes I used to only taste the difference between salted and unsalted but then moving to Europe I was shocked at how butter like wine would be regional. The italian alpine butter I get to eat on its own is really herby and actually ruined by anything else on it. It's like it is a herb butter. I find america butter sweet - it is the feed they give the cows or the hormones I wonder.

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  17. BUTTER!
    JUST SLATHERED Two pieces of GLUTEN FREE bread with it!IT is my nEW HABIT!I use to forgo the butter and just DO jam.But the last two months I CRAVE the BUTTER!I think your selection is MUCH BIGGER than OURS........and I know we do not have GOOSE FAT!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Is Gluten free bread yummy? I bet you have a better selection of gluten free bread than here though - interesting goose fat isn't big in north america.

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  18. Wonder if those olive and sunflower spreads taste anything like butter? I've always loved bread and butter. Thanks for the post! Emily :-)

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    1. I never tried it but people do seem to buy those and they have such a range now too!

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  19. Butter for eating but coconut oil for my skin and hair.

    SSG xxx

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    1. Coconut oil would be in my emergency stash bc it is good for everything xx

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  20. That is quite the butter selection. I am sure there are many (many!) places in both Brooklyn and Manhattan that would have butter sections that look like the ones you showed, but thankfully I don't shop there, ha ha! My regular grocery store has a decent selection, including President, I do believe, and some sort of fancy butter, I think it's Irish butter. There are probably more kinds on the shelves but they are SO expensive that I stick with Breakstone or Land O'Lakes (which I prefer to bake with!). After reading this post I want to do a butter tasting. It was all margarine at my house when I was growing up but that stuff seems suspicious so it is butter butter butter in my kitchen now. xx

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    1. I might eat less butter if they didn't have such a good ange for me to try.A butter tasting is a brilliant idea Jill xx

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  21. Just read your link to the "Choice/Design Fatigue" post, absolute excellent post! Thank you. I can't remember where I read (I believe it was from your posts) that a doctor from Sri Lanka said his/her patients are dying from heart attacks from eating so much coconut oil but I thought there is no cholesterol in coconut oil !? Was this from your posts?

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    1. I think the coconut oil has to be pressed and virgin - i think conversely coconut milk has a lot of cholesterol -but that is to be confirmed of course! I think that thing about coconut was by another comment on this post actually.

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  22. I am going to take a photo of my butter aisle next time I'm in the supermarket just for you! I always cook with butter, and prefer a biodynamic locally produced organic one because it is tasty. But I just use it for everything because I'm no butter connoisseur like you. I also won't touch western star or the no brand supermarket ones because I do think the taste is not so good and it changes your baked good taste. So I guess I have more opinions than I thought about butter, and I do usually have about 1kg on hand at any one time for sudden baking.
    I do get a lot more choice than FF though, as we have a lot of dairy farms near to Adelaide, and my supermarket is a local chain that has all the gourmet stuff on the shelves and not Coles and Woolies who have reduced everything down to 2 brands in a category. So we have the French and Danish butters, and then a big choice of organic local stuff, and then the main pedestrian brands as well xx

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    1. oh yes please!!! I love comparing supermarkets. I was unimpressed at safe ways last trip I was in melbourne but like David Jones but they went too far the gourmet route. I should go to farmers markets more to try their butter and this year i will try and explore a few more. Adelaide does seem like the land of milk and honey so you are very lucky that way! xx

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  23. I've just read your excellent post on butter. Ha! Waitrose has a lot to answer for. My teenagers are all very picky about which butter they'll use. Too much time spent in French supermarkets every summer. I love butter on toast as my favourite comfort food, maybe with raspberry jam, but more than happy to just have toast with my butter...and, to margarine, I'd say just no. Eurgh - horrid memories of a seventies childhood.

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    1. Waitrose will do anything for its punters as long as it sells which is a good thing! I think it is a good thing when people have certain exacting standards about food. It is only for the benefit of everyone I say. I love toast too - but why is it I can never get full on toast!!!! yes margarine really is one of those 70's things like bellbottoms - best forgotten Sue!

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  24. In Germany we have a lot of trademarks but there are in fact three kinds of butter.
    Sweet,- made from fresh cream. Mild sour, from industrial short aged cream and the traditional sourcream butter made of three days aged cream. I think its english name is cultured butter. That is the most healthiest kind.
    My grandparents owned a diary farm and the kind of butter they made is rarely available today. In the summer our cows lived in the pasture and ate fresh grass and herbs and you could taste it. Today the cows mostly live in huge stables and never leave them. The farmers shall produce cheap and cheaper - so they have to feed the cattle cheaper too.
    Another theme is homogenisation which changes the milks fatchemistry.
    So organic milk and butter is my choice. With fresh sourdough bread - nothing is better.

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    1. I love the you know so much about butter! Yes indeed - cheap feed creating more crap food is one of our bug bears but then there is that pesky thing called profit I suppose. Cultured butter isn't very popular here and you can only get those from french delis still. The butter I had in Sweden must have been like the butter your grandparents made. The memory still makes me not enjoy what i am eating now as much unfortunately!!

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  25. Naomi, I'm with you and I love butter even more than cheese I think. If I have the choice I'll put butter on a cracker before anything. Here we have crap butter. I swear I'm in heaven when I visit the U.K.- so many choices. In the last few years we finally have Kerry Gold from Ireland and a German butter and a French one..There is one from Trader Joes from Normandy with sea salt flakes. That is excellent. I too grew up having margarine. Some people here still think it's healthy and are clueless. I don't think butter is bad in moderation and has some good things for you! x Kim

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  26. Grew up with butter, always Danish unsalted. Had to wait for room temp. before it was spreadable on either bread or toast, a great annoyance for me if I was either in a hurry or hungry! At Sunday lunch, my mother insisted on butter curls on the table as part of the decorum of dignity of a family eating together, along with a stylish table setting. I dismissed margarine a long time ago as vile. These days I buy only the New Zealand reduced salt whipped 100% butter for its easy spreadability -- Mainland Premium Quality ButterSoft Salt Reduced Butter, New Zealand's softest butter. The only pure spreadable butter. Ingredients: Pasteurised cream from milk, water, salt, milk fat, 90% minimum. Info from the packaging. It tastes great on its own on my crispy toast.

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  27. I am not a fan of supermarket shopping too many choices and all the same ingredients I avoid. I just want butter without a list of ingredients same with my other foods. Thank goodness for coops with simple wholesome choices without spending the entire morning checking the ingredients. Happy healthy shopping and feasting if course.

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