The Flavor of Butter Can Change by Season

As if you needed more reasons to love it

Julia Miller
Published in
4 min readAug 6, 2020


A yellow neon sign that says “BUTTER” in an otherwise desaturated photo of an industrial setting.
Photo: Jon Tyson via Unsplash

It’s true. I love butter. Smooth, silky, creamy butter. There is nothing like it to transform pan sauce into a glistening, slightly thick, lip-smackingly rich perfection. Substitutes just will not do.

I remember my grandma talking about “oleo.” During World War II, butter became scarce, so oleomargarine became the norm. Thrifty people found ways to convert all of their recipes requiring butter to this vegetable oil-based invention.

I thought it was created during this war, but no, Emperor Napoleon III in the 1800s was the one who demanded something to feed the poor and the military. Scientists initially used beef tallow to create a butter-like spread that was of lower quality and cheaper than real butter.

Eventually, beef tallow was hard to source, so vegetable oils were used to create oleomargarine. In the U.S., the term “oleo” was used, while in Australia this spread was colloquially known as “marge.”

Honestly, I wish we called ours “marge.”

But, all of that aside, and even growing up with a multitude of butter substitutes, I prefer actual butter.

Did you know that butter can have different flavors? The breed of cow, the content of their diet, and even the time of year can influence how it tastes.

If you have a chance, go to a really good grocery where butter from different regions is available. Pick up two or three different ones, then conduct your own taste test. When you find a favorite, use that one in dishes where the butter flavor will shine.

In my butter fanaticism, I keep butter in not one, not two, but three locations.

1. On the counter

Softened butter occupies a place of honor on the counter. Kept fresh in a butter keeper, ready to spread at a moment’s notice. Don’t let this freak you out. Butter will keep perfectly fine this way. The bottom bowl has water in it. When you turn the top dish over, the one containing the butter, the surface of the butter seals against the water.

I couldn’t tell you how long it will keep this way — we always eat it before it has a chance to spoil.



Julia Miller
Writer for

Weaving a tapestry of life writing about food, family, and felines. Get a free recipe ebook at