It’s a topic that first started gaining traction about a decade ago: Canadian butter, with its measly 80 percent minimum fat content, was inferior to the rich, creamy, 82-percent-plus stuff churned by our European cousins. We were declared a “butter backwater,” a country that, perhaps due to the once-staunchly held belief that fat was bad, put more stock in margarine.
But while our modest nation resigned itself to our butter fate — life without the churned gold common throughout France, England and even the States — a funny thing happened: the humble butter aisles in many local grocery stores and supermarkets underwent a transformation. Once stocked solely with bricks of Neilson, Sealtest and Lactantia (which, let’s face it, being butter, are still pretty tasty), many supermarkets now carry grass-fed iterations from Ontario, organic blocks from Quebec — heck, it’s even common to see goat’s milk versions. Yes, Canadian butter defied the haters, and now a trip to the grocery store boasts options good enough to satisfy even the most hard-to-please Parisian.
Here, a beginner’s guide to new fancy Canadian butters, likely available at a store near you:
Riviera Petit Pot Salted Butter (what we paid: $4.69 for 125g)
Deep yellow in colour, this French-inspired, Quebec-made butter gets extra points for its adorable (and reusable) ramekin that won’t look out of place on your next dinner-party table. Rich, creamy and studded with sea salt crystals, it almost feels like a crime to pair this deluxe creation with anything but a nice loaf of rustic bread.
COWS Creamery Unsalted Creamery Butter (what we paid: $5.99 for 250g)
Light on the palate with a rich aftertaste, this unsalted addition from Prince Edward Island has a creamy, silky texture, thanks to the slower, longer churning process in which it’s created. And at 84 percent milk fat content, it’s great for baking.
Mornington Goat Milk Unsalted Butter (what we paid: $6.99 for 250g)
Hailing from Southern Ontario’s Perth County, this goat’s milk butter is closer to ivory in colour and boasts a slightly sweet, tangy taste, reminiscent of goat cheese. Because of its lower melting point, it’s great in cooked savoury dishes, like scalloped potatoes.
Churn84 European-Style Salted Butter (what we paid: $5.99 for 250g)
Marketed as “one of the best eating butters around,” this cold-barrel churned, high-fat butter — made by small-batch Stirling Creamery in central Ontario — is mild yellow, subtly salty and decadently creamy. Try melting a few squares on warm baked potatoes.
L’Ancêtre Bio/Organic Salted Butter (what we paid: $5.59 for 250g)
If the brand name didn’t give it away, this one yields from la belle province, where many of Canada’s best butters originate. Mild yellow in appearance, salty and, of course, organic, there’s an herbaceous, almost floral quality to this kosher option — try melting a few thin slices over steamed asparagus.
Rolling Meadow Dairy Salted Butter from Grass Fed Milk (what we paid: $4.99 for 250g)
Made with grass-fed cream that’s sourced from small, traditional farms in southwestern Ontario, Rolling Meadows’ butter is soft yellow in colour and lightly salted with a creamy aftertaste. And even if you can’t taste the difference, you can feel healthy as hell knowing it has a healthier ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fats than your typical stick. It’s great for making a simple bowl of buttered pasta.