Good Dairy: Meadow Butter from Kriemhild Farms
The new year is still in single digits and we're supposed to be talking about healthy eating, so a post about butter, now, really?
But if there's to be a resolution about butter for 2013, it shouldn't be to avoid it altogether. Instead, let's eat better butter, the kind that tastes of the milk it comes from.
Madison County's Kriemhild Farms (pronounced cream-hild) is making that kind of butter, with milk from meadow-raised cows that gets churned to a higher fat percentage than the industry standard. Most commercial American butters are about 80% butterfat; Kriemhild butter weighs in around 85%. Higher butterfat means a more flavorful butter that produces flakier pastries and lighter cakes, since there's less water present to gum up flour.
More than fat content, the real flavor difference in this butter comes from what farmer Bruce Rivington feeds his cows. When it's butter-making time, the cows' diet is at least 40% fresh pasture, usually more like 60% to 70%, with supplements of hay and a little grain as needed.
We've been most happy eating our Kriemhild butter straight with bread. It's sweet and earnestly milky, with a pronounced grassiness and gentle funk. Since grass changes with the seasons, so does the butter. Spring and summer grass yield a sweeter, more golden butter; our late-autumn sample is lighter, but retains a subtle cheesy funk we love.
The farm sells salted and unsalted butter wholesale in upstate New York and New York City, but also does retail sales online, at farmers markets, and some NYC markets. The only retail size available in stores is an 8 ounce tub for $4.75 (all prices from the farm's online store), but restaurants and wholesalers can purchase 2- and 5-pound tubs ($12, $23.35 respectively). All three sizes are available online, and you can visit the farm's website to find a retail location near you.