Normally, we'd be telling you why you should be picking up persimmons or some such of-the-moment fresh produce at the market. But, we interrupt our regularly scheduled fruit and veg updates to give some love to our favorite ingredient this time of year: butter.
We love how it makes mashed potatoes sweet and creamy. How a smear can bring life to a simple piece of toast. The feeling of dropping pieces of cold butter into pie dough, or swirling some into a simmering liquid and watching it transform into a smooth, silky sauce. It gives food a richness and roundness that oils simply can't — and for that, we can't get enough of it.
So, while we can all agree on butter's golden magnificence, when it comes to the specifics, many a house stand divided: Salted or unsalted? Refrigerate or leave at room temp?
Well, we're all in for the unsalted stuff so we can salt our food liberally with abandon. Our food editor Andy Baraghani has a thing for European-style cultured butter: More fat (about 84% versus 80 in American varieties) and less moisture result in a denser, creamier butter that doesn't dilute any flavors — and who doesn't want that?
As for the great fridge debate, it's a draw. Victory goes to the chill for pastry dough (those cold nuggets are crucial) and stovetop cooking to have the most control in the melting process. Leaving butter at room temperature — a practice both revered and feared — is best for spreading. No matter how you choose to store butter in your kitchen, house it in a dome once it's out of the package; butter absorbs funky odors a little too easily.