With its shiny gold wrapping and bright green label, Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter looks like a present you might find under the tree. To be clear, it doesn’t belong there, and it definitely wouldn’t last long there. But where Kerrygold and other European-style butters do belong is in your favorite holiday recipes.
That’s right. You can and should swap these butters in for your go-to American brands, especially if you’re making pastry.
The Difference Between American and European Butters
We’ve mentioned in the past that European butter differs from American butter due to the level of butterfat it contains. While American butter contains just 80 percent butterfat, European butter has been churned for a longer period of time, giving it 82 percent butterfat.
What’s the big deal? That extra 2 percent of butterfat makes a big difference in flavor and texture. American brands, which contain more water and less butterfat, are simply not as flavorful or spreadable.
So What Makes Irish Butter Different?
Irish and other European butter brands may look alike, but each type of butter has a distinct flavor that stems from its unique source. Variations in climate and churning process, and in the breed of cow that the butter comes from, all contribute to the particular texture, color and flavor of each brand.
Underneath its shiny golden wrapper, the Irish Kerrygold butter is bright yellow. This is because the fresh cream used to make the butter comes from grass-fed cows. The grass in Irish pastures is a brilliant green and packs high levels of beta-carotene. This is what leads to the butter’s golden hue.
While European butters may be new to your refrigerator, Irish butter has long been a prized commodity. In fact, Ireland’s southwest coast has produced rich, flavorful butter for more than 200 years. The Cork Butter Exchange, a system of commercial butter exportation throughout Ireland and Britain, adds to its notoriety.
Now, modern pastry chefs turn to it for their creations, with the extra 2 percent of butterfat making it the better butter for pastries and pie crusts. And if it’s good enough for them, it’s definitely good enough for your holiday pie and cookie recipes.
If the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow is actually a tub of creamy Irish butter, we wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed.