Butter: A French Love Story

In refined French cuisine, there is a mantra revered by chefs and lovers of good food: “butter, butter, butter.” It is an essential ingredient in cooking and a heritage of its food, enhancing recipes, whether savory or sweet.

Painting: “La Motte de Beurre” by Antoine Vollon.

A bit of history…

The history of butter dates back to the time of animal husbandry and domestication, more than 10,000 years ago. However, records indicate that its production was only mentioned around 5,000 years later, on a Sumerian tablet discovered in Ur, an ancient Mesopotamian city. The illustrations found describe in detail the process of making butter, from milking the cows to storing it in jars.

But did you know that, as well as being an essential ingredient in cooking, butter also had its day as a medicine?

In ancient times, the Egyptians recognized the therapeutic properties of butter. They used it not only in cooking, but also as a balm to cure various afflictions. From skin wounds to digestive problems, butter was considered a kind of “miracle cure”.

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In fact, the practice of using butter as a remedy was not exclusive to ancient Egypt. In many ancient cultures, butter was valued not only for its taste, but also for its supposed healing properties. The Romans, for example, believed that butter could relieve headaches and burns. They used it topically and also consumed it to promote health.

Butter in France

Over the centuries, butter has evolved to become a jewel of French food, appreciated by several generations. From sumptuous royal banquets to relaxed picnics in the countryside, butter has been a constant inspiration in French cuisine, captivating renowned chefs and fine dining enthusiasts alike.

Photo: Musée de Pont-Aven

Imagine a world where wedding expenses were honored not with extravagant jewels, but with blocks of fresh butter. This was the enchanting scenario in Bretagne, where this ingredient was not just an appetizer, but a true expression of love and abundance.

Today, it’s an item on practically every table in France, and with good reason! After all, butter is not just a common ingredient – it is the true emblem of certain regions of the country.

As a raw material, butter can contain up to 84% fat and only 16% water. In addition, the color of the milk can vary throughout the seasons, influenced by the grazing of the animals during the summer. Its manufacture is a detailed process that involves churning, an essential step that separates the fat from the liquid. When we explore the characteristics of this product in France a little further, we find a wide range of types of butter, each with its own singularities.

Two emblematic butters in France

Photo: Independent

Echiré butter is handmade in the town of Echiré, in the Poitou-Charentes region of the Deux-Sèvres department. In this region, the butter is made in wooden casks with traditional churning, which gives it a taste of butter with a hint of hazelnut. As such, Beurre d’Echire is considered the “crème de la crème” because it has been produced in the same way for over 100 years and has the true flavor of the French terroir. Beurre d’Echire carries the prestigious status of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), thanks to its quality and the centuries-old traditions that surround it.

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The AOC designation is reserved for agricultural products whose characteristics are linked to the place where they are produced. In the case of d’Echire butter, its quality is directly related to the milk used, which comes from cows fed on land located approximately 30 km from the village of Echire, between Poitiers and La Rochelle.

The milk used to produce it is collected daily from the 66 farms that make up the Laiterie Cooperative d’Echire association, one of the few remaining independent butter-making operations in France.

Photo: Maison Bordier

Another French gem is Bordier butter. The Bretagne region, located in the northwest of France, is known not only for its landscapes and history, but also for its high-quality products, especially butter. Since ancient times, Bretagne has been a storehouse of dairy products, thanks to its green fields and favorable climate for raising livestock. Against this background, Bordier butter was born.

Bordier butter is made from carefully selected fresh cream from local farms. This cream is churned in small batches by artisans who follow traditional methods passed down from generation to generation. It is the favorite choice of renowned chefs throughout France and around the world, who appreciate its quality and versatility in cooking. Its texture is creamy and easy to spread.

Photo: Les Produits Laitiers

For all these reasons, butter in French cuisine goes far beyond simply enriching dishes. It becomes a true icon of the country’s food tradition, revered by chefs and lovers of good food not only on French territory, but all over the world. More than just an ingredient, butter is an essential part of France’s cultural identity and gastronomic heritage. Throughout centuries of tradition and culinary excellence, it remains a symbol of quality and a key ingredient in the art of French cuisine.

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