Thanks to everyone who actually answered my question and gave me suggestions. Much appreciated.
This topic inspired me to read:
She reports that in the days before refrigeration, when they used salt as a preservative, a typical ratio was 5% by weight for butter that would be consumed promptly, vs. 1-2% in contemporary salted butter. For longer storage, they used large amounts of salt, comparable to what we still use for salt-packed anchovies, and would wash it out before eating.
I saw this today–pricey, but might solve your quest:
That seems insanely expensive. You can get functionally similar ones for $30-80.
President Butter it is. Rich, creamy, and the perfect amount of salt for me. I’m not sure why I never bothered trying it before…
Thank you, @J_L!
You don’t need a specialty tool to make butter. You just pour heavy cream into a blender/food processor/mixer and mix for about 10 minutes. Add salt if you want it salted. Strain out the solids, and form them into a patty/log/brick. You’ve got butter. Stick it in the fridge to stay fresher longer. If you want it denser, put a weight on top of it for a while.
yeah, I realize–but I saw this while reading the NY Times and thought I would offer it up as a suggestion. If you can’t find butter you like, why not make it yourself? (and it’s a cute/hipster pricey hand-churned kit that somebody might like)
Side Note: When I was in elementary school (in Boston/in the 60s) our class went on a field trip to a dairy farm and they showed up how to churn butter by hand. We all got to participate and make our own butter to bring home. Best butter ever.
My all-purpose choice is Straus. Challenge European-Style is excellent as well albeit hard to find. Tillamook, and Clover are easily found brands. What can I say, I Love Butter. My friends tease me because I’ll often time slice off a 1" piece, and nibble on it like cheese.
Reading that book, I learned a couple of surprising things: coloring agents such as annatto do not have to be listed on the label, and diacetyl or lactic acid can be listed as “natural flavoring.”
Some salted butters she recommends:
Clover Farmstead Organic European-Style with Sea Salt
Le Gall Beurre de Baratte, Fleur de Sel de Guérande
Organic Valley Pasture
I tried Finlandia salted butter recently and it’s very good. Very rich and very creamy with the perfect amount of salt for me.
This and Président salted butter are now my everyday favorites.
Ignore that last post. NOW I’ve found my most favorite butter. Shit, I think I may even want to marry it.
It’s amazing and creamy and nicely salted and I had to do everything in my power to not eat the whole stick like it was cheese. It was around $7 at Gelsons in Long Beach. I think I may like it even more than Rodolphe le Meunier‘s beurre de barrate, which for me is saying something.
Sorry. I just really love butter.
Yes, Finlandia. Kerrygold is close for flavor but is too salty. Also, Sams’ Club has the Finlandia for $3/lb. Hard to beat that.
Bought a package from Bristol Farms…
Verdict (totally subjective of course): I still like the President more than the Les Prés Salés. The marbling of the Les Prés Salés, though intentional, nevertheless creates an unpleasant uneven-ness in the taste when spread over bread.
Aw, I’m sorry to hear that! I didn’t taste any unpleasantness at all when I spread it on bread. Though I did mostly use it for non-bread things like scrambled eggs, basting steak in a cast iron, mashed potatoes, etc.
Saw it today at Pavillions for . . . I don’t remember but it was way less than $7 so I gave it a go. Since this is a fave of yours, keep yours eyes open!
What I loved: the salt. I don’t mind the unevenness of the salt distribution. Since I often sprinkle a buttered baguette with a crunchy finishing salt, I’m used to that unevenness.
What I didn’t love: the mildness of the flavor. I don’t think this is a cultured butter. I just got mostly a basic, clean butterfat flavor from the butter between those electric salt crystals. This would be a perfectly fine butter to cook with, but the problem is that cooking with this butter loses the one thing I like about it: the fat salt crystals.
I’m not sad I got this butter at all. It will be put to fine use. But the Rodolphe le Meunier is intensely cultured and my favorite to spread on bread. For cooking, I find the Strauss or Organic Valley salted (always salted) very good ever since Surfas is no longer convenient to me and I can’t stop in for a heroic slab of Isigny St. Mere with ease.
Ok, now I feel like I totally overhyped that butter.
I still love it, but I do agree with you that it’s milder in flavor to Meunier. Hell, maybe I was trying to convince myself that I like it better than Meunier because it’s much more affordable for me as an everyday butter, and also much easier for me to get since I can’t seem to find Meunier anywhere in the South Bay.
Also, thanks for the Pavilions tip!
No way! Very solid butter.
Everyone is looking for something different.
I’m just married to that Rodolphe business.