©HAMEL Franck

Breton butter

Butter is the ultimate Breton product and there are very few dishes that don’t involve butter. It improves the aromas and flavours of food without changing their character and it adds smoothness to dishes, making them more pleasing to the palate.

©Martin Boudier

All you need to know about Breton butter

Why is salted butter eaten in Brittany?

Brittany’s butter is special, most often salted, in particular using salt from Guérande. There are two reasons for that. First, butter is mainly milk (in particular, cream) and Brittany is a big milk producer. Secondly, in the past, the region was exempt from the salt tax. Brittany brought these two products together to ensure that its butter would keep for longer. That’s also the reason why Breton butter retains all the flavours of the milk.

Are there several kinds of butter?

Butter that’s described as ‘beurre fin’ or ‘beurre extra-fin’ is made from pasteurised milk, whereas raw butter comes from non-pasteurised milk that can be kept for a shorter time but has a richer range of flavours. Butter referred to as ‘de baratte’ is made by the age-old technique of churning the cream in a wooden churn. Depending on the amount of salt, butter is classed as ‘half-salted’ (between 0.5% and 3%) or salted butter (more than 3% and possibly containing salt crystals).

Special cows for exceptional flavours

Breton butter owes its fame to the cows that are carefully chosen for their milk quality. For example, milk from the Pie Noire breed, which almost became extinct during the 1970s, is well known for its rare flavour. The Froment du Léon breed provides butter with a unique orange tinge.

How is it used ?

Raw or cooked (between 40°C and 120°C), Breton butter has many uses in the kitchen. When you’re making pastries, it’s worth knowing that the flavour of butter doesn’t change when it’s cooked. When eaten in reasonable quantities it’s not fattening. It’s also good for health because it has high levels of vitamins A, D and E.

The best products based on Breton butter

Because Brittany is so famous for using butter in cooking, you might get the impression that all Breton food products contain butter. But there are certain specialities that have butter as the main ingredient: the famous kouign-amann, which literally means ‘butter cake’, salted butter caramels and butter biscuits called ‘palets bretons

Where to find Breton butter

  • The Maison du Beurre in Saint-Malo: the master butter maker Jean-Yves Bordier is one of the few artisans using age-old techniques to make butter. His speciality is flavoured butters (with seaweed, buckwheat and even raspberries!). His shop is next door to the ‘Bistro Autour du beurre’, which offers a butter-based cuisine inspired by produce from land and sea.
  •  Couleur Froment butter : Stéphane and Maëve Terlet fell in love with the Froment du Léon breed and have made this their speciality on their organic farm in central Brittany. Nicolas Adam, a starred chef at La Vieille Tour, has no hesitation in proclaiming their butter to be ‘one of the best in the world’.
  • Beurre du Ponclet : David Akpamagbo, a graduate from the Haute École de Cuisine, uses his skills to produce milk and meat. On his Locmélar farm in the Monts d’Arrée, he makes a particularly fine butter.

Did you know ?

Sculpted mounds of butter

In Spézet, in the Finistère department, on the feast-day of Notre Dame du Crann on the Sunday following Whitsun, you can go and admire a gigantic mound of butter that has been magnificently sculpted and placed on the altar of the chapel.

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