Dairy Creamery Owner Breaks Down How To Choose The Best Butter

Mmmm, butter. It adds richness to ordinary vegetables, makes lobster claws taste oh-so-succulent, and transforms the most pedestrian of ingredients — flour, and eggs, and sugar — into sweet, fluffy, yellow cakes. Have you ever watched a pat slowly melt on a slice of hot-from-the-toaster bread? Butter is the best! So, you want to make sure you are choosing the very best butter.

All butter is going to be, well, better than no butter at all. But there are differences in taste, texture, and quality. In the grocery store, you'll find everything from no-frills boxes of salted and unsalted sticks of butter, to fancy containers decorated with gold foil and illustrations of refined-looking cows. Even more options are available at farmer's markets and foodie boutiques. How do you choose which butter to bring home with you?

In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Venae Watts, fifth-generation family owner of Minerva Dairy, explained how to make this monumental decision.

Buying butter is like buying cheese

Everyone knows that buying cheese is complicated — there are specialty shops devoted to hundreds of different varieties of the (occasionally) stinky stuff, and even sorting through which wine to drink while you're eating cheese has been the subject of classes and books (via Mental Floss). Watts notes, "Picking the best butter, is very similar to selecting cheese. Creameries often produce both, and butter and cheese can both range in price and flavor."

That doesn't mean you have to pay cheese-shop prices for your butter, though. "If you're looking for a cheaper option, that's still high quality, look for sea salt on the label," Watts advised. "If you're more concerned about a high-quality, good-for-you product, read the ingredients on the back of the label carefully. Cream and sea salt — that is all you need," she advised, adding: "Simple but tasty ingredients are always a good choice."

If you do want a fancy option, you absolutely can invest in what Watts called "luxury" butter. "Garlic herb flavor infused butter will level up any dish," she said. You can also buy pumpkin spice butter, maple syrup butter, and smoked maplewood butter at her dairy.