Is "Cultured" or European-style butter better than land-o-lakes?

At whole foods I saw this ‘organic cultured’ butter (or perhaps ‘pastured butter’ i forgot, they had two different kinds’). But what is different than the regular (organic) Land-o-lakes? Does the plugra style butter taste better?

It’s a matter of personal preference. The cultured butter can have a faint sour or cheesy taste which some people prefer.

Plugra (brand) butter is THE best. Hands down. No contest. Only that brand IMHO. I’ve tried other “cultured” butters and they’re not as good. My 2 cents.

There are two variables at hand: Fat content and culturing. “European-style” butter (and AFAIK all cultured butter will fall into that category) has a higher fat content than standard supermarket butter, so it tastes better and works better in cooking.

Cultured butter is, well, cultured–so as needscoffee notes, it has a richer flavor. “Pasture butter” is a branding that Organic Valley uses. I buy the pasture butter every so often and think it’s pretty good.

One thing I will note is that IMO cultured butter tends not to work as well in cooking, especially if you don’t go through butter quickly. The cultured flavor will get stronger over time, so it can lend off notes to dishes. Where cultured butter really shines is in sandwiches–try getting cultured butter, some artisan bread, and some high-quality salumi/coldcuts, and make a simple bread/butter/meat open-faced sandwich.

To the best of my knowledge, Plugra isn’t cultured; it’s just a decent-quality European-style butter. There’s worse stuff out there, but there’s better stuff too.

Yeah, like Hunter Hawk said, Plugra isn’t cultured. It’s just high-fat, low-moisture butter. And it is indeed great; it’s the only thing I use for baking.

But the BEST butter I’ve found is Rochdale Farms Hand-rolled butter. It’s salted, so not quite the same beast as Plugra, but it’s flat out the best butter I’ve ever tasted in my life. I could eat this stuff like cheese, it’s that good. Yum yum yum.

I stand corrected.

Here’s an interesting article:
m.saveur.com/article/Techniques/30-Great-Butters

Better link.

http://m.saveur.com/article/Techniques/30-Great-Butters

This isn’t the best cite, and maybe someone can come up with a better one, but I’ve read a few places that pastured butter is better for you because it has more Omega-3 fatty acid than butter from grain-fed cows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega-3_fatty_acid

It certainly tastes different, and is much more yellow than conventional butter. Similar to how much different eggs from pastured chickens taste from supermarket eggs.

For something like bread & butter, or anything else where the butter flavor is front and center, the cultured European stuff is far and away better, to my palate. I’m partial to the French butters like Pamplie and Celles sur Belle, but the Kerrygold and Somerdale butters are very good too.

Things like chocolate chip cookies or other applications with very strong flavors don’t necessarily benefit from the more expensive butter.

I’m with you on the cultured butters. On the other hand, I think baked goods do benefit from high-fat, low-moisture butter like Plugra, though. Especially pie dough & cookies - the butter really shines through.

Yeah, I meant more the cultured butter doesn’t add much to a chocolate chip cookie. But the 83% butterfat of something like Plugra does make a big difference in a pie crust or cookie.

Cooks Illustrated did a butter tasting a while ago and while they did like Plugra, they found that the real difference in butter taste is the age of the butter. They suggested getting butter with a high turnover wherever you shop (so a specialty foods shop might be a better place to buy Plugra, as they may get more turnover on it.)

True, although there is a definite difference between cultured and uncultured butter that isn’t age related; I believe the culture amps up the diacetyl flavor, and definitely gives the butter a slight lactic tang. I think some of the French ones up the salt content above what we have in the US as well.

I don’t think I’ve had a “good” cultured butter in quite a few years. Everything lately I’ve tried is either tallowy or has picked up off-flavors from other products.
However, when I hit a good one, there’s nothing like a graham cracker + butter sandwich.
Cultured butter seems a waste to me to use in cooking. The volatiles evaporate.