By: Ashley Bode
Vermont is known for a few wonderful things; the changing of the leaves in the fall, great slopes for skiing in the winter and, of course, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. What most people may not know is that the state has perfected two of life's simplest and oldest pleasures. Vermont butter and cheese is credited as some of the best in the country, finding quality in artisanal roots and giving my family's home state, Wisconsin, a run for its money.
One of the state's most successful purveyors, Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery, set up shop over 25 years ago in a small barn outside of Brookfield, Vermont and has flourished into a nation-wide phenomenon. Known specifically for their aged goat cheese, creme fraiche, and cultured butter, cheese-maker Alison Hooper and business partner Bob Reese successfully provide foodies across the country with butter and cheese made in the French tradition, sharing what once was a rare find stateside.
While texture, taste, and age make up a large majority of what makes a good cheese, VBC prides itself in using growth hormone and antibiotic-free milk from 21 local farms and cream from two local creameries, promising that they won't compromise the quality for profit. VBC has provided restaurants, grocery stores and homes with a quality product, reminding many why there is such a thing as the French Paradox.
I have always thought of myself as dairy savvy, right down to making my own ricotta, goat cheese, and yogurt, but until I tried VBC's cultured butter I realized I truly was a novice. Because cultured butter has a higher percentage of butter fat (think over 80%) it often contains less salt, as the flavor is enhanced naturally, it provides a elasticity to baked goods that can't be duplicated by your average butter and has a higher burning point which means less fat is absorbed when pan-seared foods are seared. Most butter sold in the U.S. is non-cultured butter, either sweet cream, whipped or salted. Cultured butter sets itself in a different category as it is made from fermented cream. Using fermented cream allows the butter flavor to slowly develop, giving a fuller, richer flavor; and for those of you with allergies, it contains less lactose! Before the industrialization of food, when it came to making butter, cream was collected from several days worth of milking and went through an accidental, natural fermentation before being churned into butter. Nowadays, cultures are added and the cream is rested for a day allowing flavors to develop before churning into butter. Regardless of the process, the end result is a butter worth searching for.
You can search for products from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery at grocery stores that carry organic and natural products like Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Be sure to check their website which lists their products, awards and retail locations.
To read Ashley's original post, click here.