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Le Beurre D’Isigny (‘The Butter from Isigny’) is a renowned, high quality butter produced in the Normandy région in Northwest France. It is made from only the freshest cow’s milk, taken between 24 and 48 hours of natural production, where it is then refined through the old-fashioned churning process. Isigny butter is known for its deep yellow tint, described in French as “bouton d’or” or ‘buttercup,’ that results from an abundance of carotenoids in the finished product. Furthermore, this butter has an 82% fatty solids content and high levels of oleic acid and mineral salts that combine to account for its distinct hazelnut flavor, long shelf-life and superb spreadabilty.

An old Isigny Butter poster

An old Isigny Butter poster advertisement

The ideal location of Isigny, a port city, surely contributed to the successful spread of the butter business, but fails to explain the standout quality of the product. Isigny’s terroir spans parts of two of Normandy’s départements, Calvados and Manche, and derives its calm and humid climate from nearby fresh and saltwater sources: the marshlands and the sea. These wooded areas are ripe with vegetation thanks to a soil that is rich in clay and silt. Such vegetation is optimally nutritious for the cattle, who in turn produce a flavorful milk rich in butterfat and beneficial trace oligo elements that serve as the basis for all dairy products with the Isigny appellation.
Isigny butter is the original staple of this dairy haven from which a plethora of celebrated creams and cheeses hail. In June 1986, the Isigny milk producers union applied for and received PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) recognition for their butter, certifying its superiority and terroir-linked quality characteristics. Therefore, to be considered true Beurre D’Isigny PDO, the milk used must come strictly from milking cows that are born, bred and fed in the Cotentin penninsula or Bessin area, located in the Manche and Calvados départements.
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Like all PDOs, Isigny butter is the combined product of a localized savoir-faire and unique territorial attributes known as “terroir” properties. The ‘know-how’ of this butter dates back to the 16th century, when the port town of Isigny was a busy international commercial center for fresh, salted and melted butter. The 1774 general merchants’ almanac mentions Isigny’s prolific butter production, signifying the extent to which the town had become synonymous with top grade butter. It was only a matter of time before the Parisians got a taste for Isigny’s specialty in the 19th century, after which point business boomed. In 1876, 23 million kilograms of butter were produced in the region of which 9.2 million were exported and up to 3 million were consumed in the Calvados department alone.

 

RECIPE IDEA – Crème Caramel Ramekins

What you will need:

  • PDO butter, milk chocolate, cinnamon powder
  • Servings: 4 peoples
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 125g granulated sugar
  • 75g of water
  • 100g Isigny AOC lightly salted butter
  • 20 cl double cream
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • a pinch of cinnamon powder
  • Fine salt to season, if necessary

Directions:

  • Make a light caramel with the sugar and the water.
  • Once golden, add the lightly salted butter and the double cream and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
  • Take it off the heat, add the chocolate, then the cinnamon powder.
  • Adjust the seasoning if necessary, then pour the mixture into an assortment of ramekins – a choice of varied shapes and sizes can add to the table aesthetics.
  • Chill for one hour and then serve.