We knew we liked Banner Butter when we saw their lovely packaging and tasted their excellent Roasted Garlic, basil, and Parsley compound butter at the Freedom Farmers Market. (Spoiler alert: It’s amazing!) But we liked them even more after talking with mastermind Elizabeth McBath, whose approach to butter-making— and focus on sourcing from responsible farmers— makes the prospect of that Chili Lime Cilantro Butter even more delicious.
Your website mentions wanting to make food “the right way”—what does that mean, and why is that important to you?
It means several things. First, it means taking care of our bodies and embracing what we never should have abandoned to begin with. For years we’ve all borne the brunt of so-called science telling us that butter is bad for you. Now, science is telling us what our common sense knew all along: butter is good.
It also means being responsible stewards. We source ingredients from as close to home as possible, from farmers who are environmentally responsible and who treat their animals well.
Finally, it means returning to our roots. Before pasteurization, cream was set out before it was churned. And while it set out, natural cultures formed. These natural cultures gave butter its buttery flavor. After “fast food” began to take over, producers began to quickly churn their cream as fast as possible – for mere minutes even – and sell the butter in large quantities. And what’s worse, to get a “buttery” flavor, some producers add “natural flavoring,” or, in other words, artificial ingredients, to make you believe that you’re eating real butter.
We reject that approach. Instead, we have adopted the natural, slow food approach used in many parts of Europe. We take pasteurized cream, and we then add those naturally forming good cultures back in by culturing the cream for many hours. Next, we slowly churn the cream in small batches. The result is a naturally creamy product that tastes like what it is: butter!
Where do you source ingredients for your butters? And how do you find those farmers?
We start with cream from Southern Swiss Dairy in Waynesboro, Georgia. Southern Swiss cream is fresh and extremely rich, with a high fat-to-protein ratio. The cream also comes from grass-fed cows that are given no hormones. We think it’s the perfect cream for our small-batch churning process.
In addition to our cultured unsalted and salted butter, we also make compound butters. For these butters, we do our best to use local ingredients. For example, in our Roasted Garlic, Basil and Parsley butter, we source herbs from Burge Organic Farms and Heirloom Gardens. We meet our farmers at local farmers markets throughout the city.
What inspired you to start your business?
While working full-time and raising a family, we were so busy that we started to lose sight of the beauty around us. Over time, it became clear that we needed to change things. Banner Butter came out of that decision.
While it may seem counter-intuitive that we put more on our plate in an effort to change our hectic lives, the beauty of Banner is that it has made us slow down – it reminds us every day to see the beauty in the small things. And to relish the simple things: beautiful food cooked slowly and enjoyed with our family.
You work with Garnish & Gather, and sell at stores and farmers markets. What’s your take on the good food community in Atlanta?
It’s been a total joy to watch the local food movement in Atlanta. My husband and I are third-generation Atlantans, and over the years we’ve watched our city change and grow. And we couldn’t be more excited about where Atlanta currently is, and where we’re headed.
In addition to the great online markets like Garnish & Gather and Moore Farm and Friends, stores like The Mercantile in Candler Park embrace what we’re doing. And we’re completely energized by the excitement of the people we meet every week at local farmers markets, and have been fortunate to meet incredibly talented individuals who support the Georgia dairy industry, like Tim Gaddis, and incredibly talented chefs who support the local food movement, like Linton Hopkins.
What’s your current favorite butter pairing?
Our Sea Salt butter generously spread on top of fresh H&F bread, and then topped with fresh radishes. Simple and classic. It doesn’t get any better!