In 2012, Drew McBath and his wife Elizabeth turned a stack of 19th century dairy journals and a small mixer into an enterprise that’s a testament to their love of simple, natural and hand-crafted foods. Their butter is made with cream from local Georgia cows, which is ripened for flavor, and churned to perfection.
What makes their butter better? First of all, Banner Butter has a higher content of butterfat than most butters - more fat equals more flavor! Secondly, they use a specific method of churning that involves letting the cream ripen, which allows good bacteria to form. That bacteria is what gives butter complex undertones of flavor, rather than the flat taste of many grocery store versions. Yes, this process takes 20 times longer than industrial scale butters - but it is more than worth it. Lastly, Banner Butter is made from cream delivered by neighboring Southern dairy farmers; arriving as fresh as possible before being immediately churned, so absolutely no rich flavor is lost in transition. The cows themselves graze freely in green pastures on small farms, living longer, healthier lives and producing wonderfully flavorful cream (with absolutely no hormones used to increase milk production). Opting for Banner Butter is not only a vote for the company, but also for the hardworking local farmers, the environment and good, clean eating.
With the encouragement of friends and family, Drew and Elizabeth began selling tiny runs of Banner Butter at a few farmers’ markets around Atlanta. Today, Banner Butter maintains its small-batch approach to butter-making while selling across the southeast and Texas in Whole Foods, Earth Fare, and Central Markets (and our Market!).
Our interview with Drew is below:
1) What inspired you to go into the business of butter?
Looking back, I think it was that butter was being ignored. Big butter manufacturers compete on price, speed and shelf life and NEVER ask “Is this delicious? Is it unique?" We feel like butter is an elemental food. It’s in, on and around most everything. It creates depth, adds flavor and can make or break any dish; so why not make it as tasty as possible despite the additional time and effort?
2) How is your butter better than what most people recognize on their grocery store shelves?
Commodity butter is typically what we see on the shelves of the grocery stores. This “big butter” is processed in bulk and very quickly, and lacks a deep buttery flavor and creamy texture that can only come from old-school butter making techniques. These small-creamery techniques: slow fermentation, batch-churning, working and tempering; create deep flavor and a creamy, velvety texture that can’t be duplicated by large, industrialized butter plants.
3) A lot of people are convinced that butter is "bad for you". Is that true?
Time Magazine, Mark Bittman and The Wall Street Journal have each recently recognized that we’ve been duped; duped into thinking that fat – and butter – are the enemy. Butter is a good source of the fatty acid butyrate. It's rich in conjugated linoleic acid and fat-soluble vitamins like K2, and it contains lots of healthy saturated fats.