I was just opening a block of French butter and noticed the announcement in the corner: Beurre de Printemps. Spring butter! In case you were wondering, it’s a thing.
During the winter, when cows are fed on hay, the butter is pale. But in the spring, when the cows return to the pastures, their milk produces a butter with a richer, more golden color. Really good butter – butter churned in small batches from milk that doesn’t travel far – even smells grassy! Right now, the color isn’t much more yellow than it was a couple of months ago, but the change will come quickly and soon.
If you’re in the markets in early spring, you can hear people exclaim about the butter’s color. Spring butter doesn’t always get the fanfare that other seasonal newcomers do. Come spring, when I’m in Paris, I can be sure that at a friend’s home, in a restaurant or chez moi, I’ll be (cooking or) eating something from the spring harvest, perhaps white, green, violet or wild asparagus (the wild ones, which look like green mini sheaves of wheat, are excellent with eggs), morels (also good with eggs), strawberries (good with everything and nothing), green almonds, new onions, fresh garlic and more. These are the treasures that come and go in a flash.
Happily, butter will be around spring and summer, fall and winter, and each season will bring its own pleasures. If you’re looking for something fun to make with butter, try this recipe for Rose-Hibiscus Shortbread Fans (it’s from Dorie’s Cookies) – it’s got a lot of spring favorites in one beautiful, easy-to-make cookie.