Who is Banner Butter?
In 2012, armed with nothing more than a few 19th century dairy journals, a small mixer and a passion for simple and natural foods, Drew McBath and his wife Elizabeth embarked on a journey that would bring hand-crafted, deep-flavored butter to food lovers across the country. With plenty of encouragement from friends and family, Drew and Elizabeth began selling tiny runs of Banner Butter at a few farmers’ markets around Atlanta. Today, Banner Butter maintains its small-batch approach to butter making while selling across the southeast and Texas in Whole Foods, Earth Fare and Central Markets.
How is Banner Butter different?
We’re different in several ways. First, the cream. It’s fresh. Like, really fresh. That’s because it comes from Georgia cows, local to us. Second, it’s grass-fed. Our cows graze in green pastures and are not treated with hormones. Third, the butterfat. We make butter that is has a higher proportion of butterfat other butters. Fourth, the method. Before churning, we let the cream ripen for many, many hours. This ripening process allows good bacteria to form. It is this good bacteria that gives butter its complex buttery undertones. Next, after the cream ripens, we slowly churn it in small batches. This process results in a better tasting product because we are able to make small adjustments throughout churning, depending on the season, the consistency, and the taste of the cream. Finally, our butter is handcut and lovingly packaged. That’s why no two packages look exactly the same. In the end, it takes us 20 times longer to make our butter than industrial scale butters. So if you want something special, give us a try!
What is cultured butter anyway?
The vast majority of butter sold in America is sweet cream butter. That means that, after the cream is pasteurized, it is immediately churned. That also means that it has very little taste. So, to give it flavor, many butter manufacturers add “natural flavoring,” or “lactic acid.” Butter churned from sweet cream lacks the flavors that can only come from a long-ripening process where a special mixture of bacteria is added to the cream and held at precisely the right temperature, for precisely the right amount of time. This good bacteria is one of the things that makes our butter taste so good. If you’ve ever eaten butter from small creameries in France, Italy, or Denmark, then you’ve had cultured butter. And if your great grandma made her own butter on the farm, then you’ve eaten cultured butter too. Let’s reclaim the way butter should be, shall we?
How is Banner Butter different from other cultured butters?
Let’s address “European Style” butter first, which might be interpreted as “cultured.” Check the label whenever you see this term. If you see the words “natural flavoring” or “lactic acid” as an added ingredient, it means that the producer added a powder and/or liquid to their butter after the churning process to make it taste like the cream was naturally cultured before churning. We use no flavoring. We don’t need to. Second, we SLOW-culture our cream for up to 36 hours to bring out a complex, deep flavor you won’t get from big-brand cultured butters. Third, where did your butter come from? Banner Butter is local to the Southeastern United States. That means that when the cream arrives at our door, it is fresh. We churn it immediately, so that when you buy it, it is still fresh. And by buying our cream from southern dairy farmers, we’re supporting our friends who live right down the street. Truly if you care about the environment, about your local farmers, and about good, clean eating, then please put your money where your mouth is, and give us a go! We can change things; we really can.
Can you tell me about how the cows are treated?
We use cream from local cows that graze in green pastures on small farms. Free-ranging cows tend to live longer, healthier lives and produce wonderfully flavorful cream. Our dairy farms also never dose their cows with hormones to increase milk production; a practice that can cause health problems in cows and humans alike.
Are your butters organic?
No, they are not. Some of our small dairy farmers often choose not to seek organic certification for cost or resource reasons. But they have pledged to avoid unsustainable farming practices and unnecessary use of pesticides.
Why should I care that Banner Butter is made from grass-fed cows’ cream?
A healthy share of grass in the cows’ diet not only pleases their taste buds, it increases conjugated linoleic acids, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids in the milk they produce, thereby benefitting the oh-so-lucky consumer.
How should I store my butter?
You can freeze your butter for up to 12 months. Once you’ve put it in the refrigerator, you should eat it within 6 weeks. Not sure you can eat it all that quickly? Try putting half in the freezer, and the other half in the refrigerator.
Sorry, I’m lactose intolerant, so I can’t eat butter.
Not so fast, you. Banner Butter has active cultures, and these cultures eat almost all of the lactose. In other words, some people with lactose intolerance can eat our butter without any issues. What a life changer!
What are compound butters?
We start with our small-batch cultured butter as a base, and then we add different ingredients to it to make cooking easier and mix things up a bit. Examples of some compound butters we sell are a Roasted Garlic, Basil, Parsley butter; a Cinnamon Cardamom Ginger butter; and a Balsamic Fig and Caramelized Onion butter. We also love to make seasonal compound butters that highlight what’s in season at that particular moment. Want a chive butter in the early Spring? We’ve got you covered. How about a nice Red Pepper Mash butter in the Summer? Yep, we’ve got it. Or a Pumpkin Spice butter for Halloween? We’ve done that too. In the end, compounds take your butter – and consequently your whole meal — up a notch, to something you just don’t want to miss.
How do I use compound butters?
One of the great things about compound butters is that they make your meal preparation easier. The seasoning has already been done for you; it’s all in the butter. So keep it simple. Saute your eggs with the Roasted Garlic, Basil, Parsley butter. Grill your steak, and after you take it off the grill, add a pat of the Balsamic Fig and Caramelized Onion butter on top. Walk away, and let it melt. Add the Cinnamon Cardamom Ginger butter to your morning waffle. You won’t believe the difference it makes. Also, click on this recipe blog link, to get recipe ideas. And if you sign up for Banner’s e-newsletter, you’ll receive a recipe of the week. And once you’ve started cooking with our compound butters, please share what you’ve made with us. We just might feature you on our blog and newsletter!
I’m trying to be healthy. And everyone knows that butter is bad for you.
What do Time Magazine, Mark Bittman, and The Wall Street Journal all have in common? They’ve each recently recognized that we’ve been duped. Duped into thinking that fat – and butter – are the enemy. And being duped hurts. In so many ways. Check out what they say – http://time.com/2863227/ending-the-war-on-fat/ and http://www.wsj.com/articles/butter-makes-comeback-as-margarine-loses-favor-1403745263 — so that we can set the record straight.
Does Banner give back to the community?
We’re committed to it. Please contact us if you’d like to partner in some way.
So I was shopping in my favorite grocery store today, and they don’t carry you. But what can I do about it?
You can do a lot actually. And thank you for asking! Please let the store manager know about us, and provide our contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can drop us a line too and tell us your store prospect. We can take it from there. Thanks for looking out for us!!