Cultured Butter: Australia’s Latest Food Trend and Why You’ll Love It


Cooking up an exotic dish, baking moreish scones, or simply spreading it on your toast – butter adds flavour and fullness to just about every dish in the book. So it makes sense that people are increasingly willing to pay for quality butter to take their cooking creations to the next level. One of the fastest growing Australian food trends is cultured butter. Never even heard of it? Don’t worry – we’ll break it down for you. Consider this your ‘culture-al’ enlightenment.

Cultured butter has a number of advantages over conventional churned butter. It has a tangy taste, which adds depth of flavour to many recipes. It’s has a warm, ‘homey’ flavour that explains why some people refer to it as “Old Fashioned” or “Antique” butter and it’s the perfect addition to any rustic dishes you might be thinking of cooking up as the weather cools down.

What is cultured butter?

There’s an old French adage about cooking: ‘What does it need? Butter, butter, butter!’ The French, and other Europeans, have been producing cultured butter since at least Roman times. It its pre-industrial form, it was crafted on small farms using raw cream collected over several days of milking.  The cream had soured by the time it reached the churn, producing a butter with a definitive lactic aroma and delicious flavour.

Nowadays, cultured butter is butter made out of cream and starter culture bacteria. The night before it is turned into butter, special bacteria, similar to what is used in cheesemaking or yoghurt, is added to the cream and left to ferment. After 24 hours, the cream has fermented, similar to creme fraiche and is ready to be churned into butter with a rich flavour and a clean finish.

Cultured butter is available in both salted and unsalted varieties. And, as with all foodstuffs, some examples of cultured butter are better than others.

What’s so great about it?

  • Plenty of fat. At a minimum, cultured butter should have a fat content of 82 per cent, but the higher the better. This makes it useful for cooking, as the butter will tolerate higher temperatures before smoking, which will allow for a more delicate crumb in pastry making, for example.
  • Great taste. Cultured butter boasts a full and rich flavour with a clean finish. It is more balanced than regular butter because the acidity that results from the fermentation proves cuts through the rich creaminess. Therefore it should be lighter than standard butter, and there should be no aftertaste.
  • Plenty of bacteria. Unlike regular butter, cultured butter has plenty of good bacteria which helps balance the flavour.

What can I use cultured butter for?

Cultured butter is perfect smeared generously on a thick slab of sourdough bread. Though it can be enjoyed simply, there are a number of delicious ways to use cultured butter to take your favourite rustic recipes to the next level. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • Buttered steak: Melting a small (…or large) cube of butter over a freshly cooked steak gives it depth of flavour and keeps the meat moist. You’ll see more and more restaurants adding cultured butter to their steak sauce options – try it and you’ll see why.
  • Buttery cheesecake base: Because cultured butter gives pastry that delicate, crumbly texture, using unsalted cultured butter in the base of your cheesecake will give it the perfect consistency.
  • Lemon butter glazed chicken: Cultured butter deepens the flavour of this classic dish by adding a tang to the sauce that compliments the lemon juice perfectly.
  • Buttery baking: From baked potatoes to garlic bread, butter makes everything better. Using cultured butter creates a depth of flavour and a tanginess that makes these family favourites utterly irresistible. You might even find yourself forgetting to add cheese to dishes like baked potato – cultured butter adds so much flavour that you don’t even need it.
  • Buttered pork: In restaurants, pork dishes are often served with a little disc of herbed butter; replacing traditional butter with cultured butter is a far tastier alternative.

Butter up

Of all the butter products on the market, cultured butter boasts the most distinctive flavour, which enhances a great range of home cooking favourites. It’s no wonder this food trend is here to stay. Once you go cultured, you never go back.