By Morgan Gunnels
CORK, Ireland – Growing up in a large city, I never thought to trace my butter further back than the grocery store. Never would I imagine myself making my own butter. However, here in Cork there is a rich history of butter. The Cork Committee of Merchants established the Cork Butter Market in 1769. Butter was being exported to four other continents, and the city was the most important butter provider to Britain and Ireland. The Cork Butter Museum, located in the Shandon area of Cork adjacent to the former Butter Exchange, celebrates this dairy culture.
During a visit, Peter Foynes, director of the Cork Butter Museum, demonstrated the process of butter making using tools on hand at the museum. He began by using a hand crank to start the churning process. It usually takes about ten minutes to churn butter, Foynes said, but you can tell when its ready by the texture. The desired texture looks a bit like scrambled egg.
Next the buttermilk is drained from the mixture. Although not used in the butter, buttermilk can be used to make soda bread, for drinking, and is good for the skin, Foynes said. To ensure proper separation, Foynes added cold spring water to the newly churned bits of butter to rinse, stopping only when the liquid poured off was clear in color.
Next Foynes used butter spades to put the mixture into the traditional block shape that we all know and love. The butter had a light color and felt airy on the tongue. It was creamy and added an extra sweetness to the slice of bread it was paired with.
For those interested in making their own butter Foynes stressed the importance of using heavy cream with a fat content of 35 percent and cooling the water used for purification and all the tools to between 12 and 15 degrees C (54 to 59 F) ahead of time to keep the butter fresh during the churning process.
Recipe from Jessie Oleson Moore, Craftsy Blogger
2 cups heavy cream
Salt to taste (if desired)
Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whip on a low setting and gradually increase the speed to high. After five to 10 minutes the mixture will appear thicker. If using salt, this is the time to stir it in. Once the cream begins to separate and look like scrambled eggs, drain the buttermilk liquid out and store the butter in an airtight container.