Ask Liz: Brand-Name Butter

Butter. Is it really the same from brand to brand? What are the differences between different butter brands? The United States Department of Agriculture helped us with this answer.

The USDA defines butter as a food product made exclusively from milk and cream, containing at least 80% milkfat by weight (when people say butter is fattening-- it's no joke!).

Butter comes in three grades: AA, A, and B. The grades are determined first by flavor characteristics, and then body, color and salt content.

Grade AA butter possesses a “fine and highly pleasing butter flavor." It is made from high-quality, fresh sweet cream and has a smooth texture with good "spreadability." Grade A butter possesses a “pleasing and desirable butter flavor.” It is also made from fresh cream and has a fairly smooth texture. Grade B butter possesses a “fairly pleasing butter flavor.” However, this butter might have a slightly acidic flavor.  Put side by side, you will probably notice a difference between grade AA and grade B butter.

These grades appear in a shield displayed the main panel or the side of butter packaging.

Land O’Lakes, one of the most popular butter manufacturers in our area, only produces grade AA Butter. But some store brands and local brands may incorporate all different grades into their product line.

For the 411 on butter, visit the USDA's website.

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