This Might Be The World's Most Expensive Butter

From coating the tops of pillowy pastries with a signature golden sheen, to adding a comforting richness to a sauces, soups, and other savory concoctions, to sitting atop a simple piece of toast, there's no denying that butter is one of the most ubiquitous, versatile, and downright delicious ingredients on earth.

But according to Saveur, not all butter is created equal — and some dairy die-hards are willing to pay hefty fees to get a taste of the best and rarest butter money can buy. While France, which is home to numerous prestige butter brands (such as Le Beurre Bordier) and counts butter as a mainstay of their cuisine, has long been considered the ultimate epicurean mecca by dairy enthusiasts, you may be surprised to learn that the world's best — and most sought-after — butter may not hail from Europe, but rather a small farm in rural Vermont. Here's the truth about what just might be the most expensive butter in the world.

This may be the world's most expensive and elusive butter

While the average home cook is accustomed to working with the cubed and boxed butter sold standard in every grocery store, when it comes to the world's most elite restaurant kitchens, sourcing the best butter available can be the key to culinary success. 

So, when famed chef and restaurateur Thomas Keller got his first taste of Animal Farm butter — a small-batch butter reportedly unrivaled in its richness and depth of flavor — he immediately offered to buy up the company's entire supply from Diane St. Clair, the farmer and butter maker behind the product.

St. Clair, a former New Yorker with no previous experience in food production (via Saveur), started churning her own butter after purchasing a pair of Jersey cows to live on the pasture behind her 19th century farmhouse in the rural town of Orwell, Vermont. The result was Animal Farm butter, and despite being the buzz of the culinary world, it's nearly impossible to purchase if you're not the likes of one of the world's top chefs.

How much does it cost to get a taste of the world's best butter?

Unfortunately for butter aficionados everywhere, Animal Farm butter is only sold to the general public one day per year via Saxelby Cheesemongers online, and at Middlebury Food Co-Op in Middlebury, Vermont.

A single one-pound bag of this fabled butter will set dairy enthusiasts back $50, before shipping. Despite the high price tag, this coveted ingredient is all but guaranteed to sell out within minutes of going on sale. MyRecipes writer Margaret Eby unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the buzzy butter (then priced at $60 per pound) on a previous year's sale date, only to find it had sold out online in under three minutes.

Per the Animal Farm website — which features glowing images of St. Clair lovingly stroking her hard-working herd of Jersey cows — the company, which has been producing butter since 2000, sells the majority of their supply to Keller's world-renowned restaurants, Per Se and The French Laundry, at an undisclosed price point.

What makes this high-end butter better than the rest?

According to St. Clair, the key to her butter's unique and enviable flavor isn't any "secret technique" or special ingredient, but rather a keen focus on the environment in which the cow's milk is cultivated, and the care and time she puts into every batch of her product.

In Animal Farm's own words, the company's commitment "is, first and foremost, to cow comfort and well-being," which results in "delicious, high-quality dairy products using small-scale techniques ... that [are] rich in mouth-feel, fragrant on the nose, and changes with the seasons." St. Clair opted to raise Jersey cows due to the fact their milk has the highest milk fat percentage of any variety of cow, resulting in an ultra-creamy end product with 87% butterfat.

For Diane St. Clair, butter has become not only a livelihood but an "obsession," as she spends her days milking her cows twice-daily in addition to "separating, pasteurizing, churning, bottling buttermilk, moving fences, feeding cows, and making hay." According to Saveur, the abundant care put into producing St. Clair's butter results in a notably intense and rich tasting experience, with a "consistency reminiscent of great vanilla ice cream."

There's no doubt that Animal Farm's reputation as the world's best butter gets more solidified with every highly-anticipated butter drop. Of course, whether or not you're willing to shell out the big bucks for this rarefied dairy product is another question altogether ... if you're able to score a taste to begin with.