“A meal should be prepared with butter and love.” -Swedish proverb-
The butter in Sweden is almost like a family crest, each household is devoted to a different salt intake for their butter and they live for it. While traveling with my dad we stayed and dined in several different households and each household’s butter was different. Salted, unsalted, extra-salt, light salt, and sea salt, I was amazed at the salt varieties of butter and my separate obsession with both butter and salt reached a new height and new level of intensity in Sweden and I have never been the same. Their lovely wooden butter knives and clever butter dishes make butter easy to spread even when cold, it is brilliant. When you scrape butter length wise on a long plane with their butter knives it is easy to spread onto your bread without tearing even when the butter is cold, right out of the refrigerator.
European butter has a higher fat content than American butter about 4-5% more fat and many people think this is why European butter tastes more flavorful. But really much of that flavor comes from the cultured cream that they use, where most American butters are made from uncultured sweet cream, the cultured cream is what makes European butters taste more “butter-like”. Cultured butter or butter made with cream that has been fermented with bacteria is most common in Europe but there are some American cultured butters. Organic Valley and Vermont Butter and Cheese both carry cultured butters, to name a few.
Swedes’ love of butter cannot be looked into without a mention of their breads and crackers. With all of this bread and butter eating, one would think that Swedish people were not health oriented, but like many of its European neighbors it is quite the contrary. Not only is the “eat what you like, but only in moderation” theory true here but the “eat less move more” theory is also at play, as I noticed that cold weather was only a backdrop to activity not a deterrant. Their bread usually contains whole grains, as does their crackers, dark rye crackers (knäckebröd) are eaten on a daily basis with butter and cheese. Butter is a part of the enjoyment of their wonderful artisanal breads and delicious crispy dark rye crackers, they go hand in hand. But to understand the Swedes love of butter one must study the perfection of their butter knives which is really the tool that proves their butter devotion.
Food blogger, Magnus Hultberg encapsulates the Swedish peoples love of butter and devotion to their distinct invention of the wooden butter knife.
“Butter knives must be made out of slightly dark, big grained, flexible wood with a slight scent of fresh spring forest. Thickness is important, so as to get the right flex when scooping up the butter with a precise sweeping motion (just the right amount, wiping excess butter from the knife on to the sides of the box is a capital offense when it comes to proper butter worshiping in Sweden)….” read more.