I firmly believe that love of smokey flavors is genetically encoded from the days of cavemen. In any case, it works for me. Barbecue is hot smoked, which means the food is cooked at oven temperatures in the presence of smoke from wood chips. Cold smoking is more difficult. Cold smoking is done between 80 degrees F and 100 degrees F, with smoking times from four hours to four days. The process relies on smoke to cure food instead of heat. Cold smoking is used for salmon, cheese, and … butter.
My introduction to cold-smoked butter comes from Creekside Smokehouse in El Granada, California, on the coast about 25 miles south of San Francisco. They ship overnight.
The obvious thing to do with smoked butter is to put it on hot vegetables, corn and potatoes being the usually suspects in this case. That definitely works. The smoke flavor is strong enough to provide a distinct flavor, but not too strong so as to be overpowering. I suspect experimentation in getting the right intensity.
Sweet baked goods are not so obvious. One Creekside customer recommends the smoked butter on pumpkin bread. I enjoyed it on bread pudding muffins, a delightful vanilla, rum, and raisin concoction from a local bakery. The smoke goes unexpectedly well with the sweet flavors.
All this makes me wonder what else we haven’t discovered that awaits smoking. Commercial liquid smoke is hot-smoked water. If water can be smoked, what can be excluded? I’ve seen smoked honey and smoked olive oil suggested. I must ponder that.
On the web, I found a guy who hot-smokes cream then churns the cream into butter. I’m not that ambitious. In the U.K. The Organic Smokehouse sells smoked butter, but not on this side of the pond. For now, it seems to be all Creekside.