I enjoy focusing on a food’s sensory properties: how it looks, its aroma, texture, flavour, and mouthfeel, so I asked friend, awesome chef and fellow butter enthusiast, Caitlin Ruth, to taste butters with me...
I enjoy focusing on a food’s sensory properties: how it looks, its aroma, texture, flavour, and mouthfeel, so I asked friend, awesome chef and fellow butter enthusiast, Caitlin Ruth, to taste butters with me…
Since 2015, I have been a judge Blas na hEireann, the Irish Food Award. I enjoy focusing on a food’s sensory properties: how it looks, its aroma, texture, flavour, and mouthfeel. It’s an incredibly robust method for choosing a product worthy of one of these prestigious awards.
I got a notion to do a spot of butter tasting recently. I was writing a feature about dairy, and I noted that there were a number of different butters made around my home region of West Cork. So, I asked my friend and fellow butter enthusiast, chef, Caitlin Ruth, to taste butters with me. She agreed, and what follows is the result of a pleasant afternoon tasting butters at different temperatures on different things in a tiny caravan in the middle of a field near Clonakilty. What follows is the result of an afternoon well spent!
We tasted three butters made in west Cork, and a butter from north Cork:
At the time of writing, Glenilen butter, (Drimoleague), confirmed they were not making butter for retail, so it’s not in our taste test. I’ll also admit that I forgot Toons Bridge Dairy make a cultured butter sold from their shops at Toons Bridge and Bandon, as well as The English Market stall.
We looked at colour, aroma, texture, flavour and mouthfeel. We tasted butters on plain unsalted rice cakes, sweet brown bread, and on its own to fully understanding flavour profile and length.
We took temperature readings to gauge when butters are best for spreading and concluded that 10 degrees Celsius was the optimum.
Butter vs Salt
• All four butters are salted, with a minimum 80% butterfat content.
• All had 2% salt content, except for Gloun Cross Dairy butter at 1.8%.
• All the creameries make butter from milk produced by herds of predominantly Holstein Freisian. Gloun Cross Diary’s herd includes some Jersey’s for their richer cream.
Ór had the smoothest, almost putty-like texture, followed closely by Aughadown and Bandon. Gloun Cross Dairy had a grainier texture and exuded the most moisture, indicating lighter washing and explaining its shorter shelf-life.
Flavour and Mouthfeel:
Recipe: Maple Whipped Butter, Caitlin Ruth
Smokey maple syrup whipped into soft salted butter. Serve at room temperature. Best on bacon.
Best Ways to Eat
We found that each butter does vary in flavour and consistency, and therefore different butters will work best in different dishes. This is how we recommend serving these butters.
• Best for Scones: Aughadown
• Best for Boxty: Ór
• Best for Brack: Gloun Cross Dairy
• Best for Mashed and Baked Potatoes: Bandon Butter
• Best for Brown Bread: Gloun Cross Dairy
• Best for Morning Toast: Bandon Butter
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