It's a good time to be a congregant in the church of churn. After countless years spent suffering under the tyranny of the bland butter stick, creameries across the country, often inspired by Europe's vastly superior spreads, are turning out the good stuff. Sea salted, cultured, fermented, boosted fat content: these are now the norm, and a world of silky deliciousness awaits. So embrace your saturated snobbery, and thank the butter gods for delivering us from those big pale bricks of flavourless fat.
PC Black Label Normandy Style Salted Cultured Butter: Origins unknown
Probably Canada's most widely available highbrow butter, PC's Black Label is a safe but unremarkable bet. There's a pleasing sharpness from the culture added to the cream, but it falls off quickly, and there's not much depth to help it endure on the palate. It's the Star Wars: The Force Awakens of the fancy butter world: a reliable, omnipresent pleasure that lacks any originality or ambition.
Stirling Churn 84 European-Style Butter: Stirling, Ont.
Stirling has been a front-runner for years now, making pleasant and distinct regular butters. With its Churn 84 series, it has boosted the fat content from the standard 80 per cent to the more Euro-style 84 per cent, with lovely results. The new organic product (which features the green wrapper) is a lovely, understated butter with a big, round flavour and some high grassy notes. I like to cook with it, although it's delicious on its own.
Sea Salted Cows Creamery Butter: Charlottetown
This one's a crowd-pleaser, and it's easy to see why. The PEI cows who generate this one breathe the island's salty air, and the creamery brightens things even further with sea salt. The result is a briny blast that mellows into a silky, sweet core. The salinity might be too much for some, but I like its bracing freshness, especially with something sweet, like jam, to offset it. Also 84-per-cent fat.
Société-Orignal Cultured Butter: Montreal
Quebec's Société-Orignal manufactures and distributes some of the most distinctive foods in Canada – ethereal honeys, nuanced maple syrups and unequalled cider vinegar. But its butter might just be its best product, and it's certainly the finest currently available in the country. It's fermented, which gives it a pronounced yet pleasing funk, and is rounded out with a luscious fattiness cut by a bright saltiness. It almost tastes like cheese – and you'll want to eat it as though it were. Eighty-four-per-cent fat.