Butter - a variety of flavoured butters

23/01/2013 20:53

BUTTER ~ a natural product made from churning cream, until the fats separate from the liquid (buttermilk) and the butter is in a semi-solid state. Butter is a waxy substance, usually a creamy white or very pale yellow colour. Butter is a versatile and widely used ingredient. The most common form of butter is made from cows milk, but it can also be made from the milk of other mammals too, including sheep, goats, buffalo, and yaks.

The making of butter goes back thousands of years. The word butter comes from the Greek word "bou-tyron", which means "cowcheese." For many years farmers and turf cutters have been finding huge lumps of what looks like butter in the peat bogs of Scotland and Ireland. Lumps dating back as far as the Bronze Age, 3000 years ago, have been found in barrels, baskets or animal skins. They're buried in holes deep in the bogs. Peat bogs are laid down over thousands of years as plants decompose, or rot. The peat's very wet and heavy so does a good job of keeping the bog butter sealed, and away from germs and bacteria in the air. The practice of preserving butter in bogs or in moist earth is also found in Scandinavia, Iceland, India and Morocco.

Flavoured butter or 'Compound butter', also known as finishing butter, or Beurre composé in French, is softened butter that is blended with various ingredients. These can be savoury or sweet. It's basically a 'flavoured' butter.

Flavoured butter melting on a hot-from the grill piece of chicken, meat, fish or vegetables is a quick and tasty additional seasoning. They are also a delicious spread for warm grilled breads. Try Stuffing some savoury flavoured butter under chicken skin before roasting, or use to pan-fry seafood, or stir into risottos and pasta dishes. Sweet flavoured butters are delicious served on waffles, muffins, pancakes and toast. Flavoured butters are easy to make. Use Salted Butter for savoury variations and Unsalted Butter for the sweet variations.

Herb butters are colourful and fragrant. You can use fresh or dried herbs. When using fresh herbs instead of dried herbs double the amount used in a recipe, as dry herbs have a more intense flavour. Add any single fresh chopped herb or mix them. Here are some herb suggestions which go well with certain foods.

FISH ~  Parsley, Fennel, Dill, Chervil, Lovage, Lemon thyme, Coriander, Orange-scented Thyme.

MEATS ~  Oregano, Marjoram, Garlic, Rosemary, Mint, Thyme, Savory.

CHICKEN ~ Tarragon, Basil,  Sage, Flat-leaved Parsley, Lemon-Thyme, Oregano

VEGETABLES ~ Mint, Thyme, Basil, Celery leaf, Chives, Chervil

EGG DISHES ~  Tarragon, Chives, Chervil, Parsley, Caraway.

To prepare herb or any other flavoured butter, first let the butter soften at room temperature, then beat in the herbs, or your chosen flavourings, with a wooden spoon, fork, or an electric mixer, until evenly combined and smooth.

Pack the flavoured butter into molds, form balls with a melon-baller, shave curls from chilled butter with a sharp knife, or simply put into ramekins to be scooped onto cooked foods. As an alternative, you can create butter logs. Roll the butter into a log shape and wrap in greaseproof paper or cling film, twist the end of the paper to seal it or fold ends as if wrapping a present and tuck underneath. Place in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to harden and allow the flavours to develop. You can also dress up a butter log by rolling it in colourful chopped nuts, fresh herbs or dried fruit before refrigerating. When you are ready to use your herb butter, you can then just slice off  'coins' of butter.

* Store the flavoured butters for up to one month in the refrigerator, or keep frozen for up to two months - Over-wrap butter tightly before refrigerating or freezing, in double layers of plastic wrap/foil or freezer bags, since butter absorbs other flavours and odours like a sponge. Place in fridge to defrost before serving.


The basic instructions for making flavoured butter are the same for all the recipes listed here.

Garlic butter is so versatile you can use it with almost anything!

125g softened butter
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

125g softened butter
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp chopped chervil
1 clove garlic, chopped
juice of 1 lemon

An Asian butter that is great used on fish or chicken
125g softened butter
grated rind & juice of 1 lime
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp mild curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
125g butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander

Combine the curry powder, cumin and garlic in a pan, stir over heat until fragrant, and cool.
Combine the spice mixture, butter and corainder in a bowl and mix well. A delicious Indian butter that is good on chicken breasts and mackerel.

125g softened butter
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small green chilli pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
grated rind & juice of 1 lime

Mustard & Tarragon Butter
125g softened butter
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp chopped fresh Tarragon

125g softened butter
2 tsp chopped rosemary
1 small red chilli pepper, de-seeded & finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper

Delicious served with a juciy steak.


50g softened butter
50g soft blue cheese- Gorgonzola
25g walnuts, finely ground in blender
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


125g softened butter
2 tbsp chopped fresh Mint
1 tbsp lemon juice

Combine the mint and lemon juice with the butter. Adding the lemon juice gradually to prevent curdling. Great butter to use on new potatoes, carrots or green peas.

A great butter to smother over corn-on-the-cobs.

80g butter
1-2 chillies, finely chopped, with or without seeds depending on how hot you like it.
Freshly chopped parsley
Juice of half a lemon



1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and added to the butter.
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Delicous on toast!

Brandy butter is the classic sweet butter, at Christmas it goes great with the figgy pud.
Serves 6-8

115g unsalted softened butter
55g caster sugar
55g icing sugar, sifted
3 tbsp brandy

Cream the butter in a bowl until it is very smooth and soft. Gradually beat in both of the sugars. Add the brandy, a little at a time, beating well after each addition, taking care not to let the mixture curdle. Chill for at least one hour before serving

If you would prefer another spirit, replace brandy with same quantity of Rum, to make a delicious alternative.