Today we swung into action and made butter!

Our instructor today was the illustrious Robert (Bob) Bradley who in the circles of butter making is spoken about in the same vein as a celebrity.

Bob wrote and published the Wisconsin University bible of butter making called ‘Better Butter’. This is the first technical butter book to be published in nearly 50 years and offers industry insight into the art of quality butter manufacture.

In my buttermaking research, Better Butter is the first book I purchased and to meet the author and award-winning butter maker himself was special. He has the answers to everything – buttermaking related!

He told us exclusively today that he was in the process of finalising his new edition of Better Butter and is due out later this year. If you want to learn to make butter, this is the one and only book you need to have.

Back in the factory, we made 3 types of butter all unsalted. These were:

  • sweet cream (standard butter)
  • Whey cream
  • Half sweet and half whey mix butter

In the process of making butter in a small 50 gallon (190 L) butter churner we were taught how to measure butter fat, moisture content, pH, TA (titratable acidity), over run, as well as working out calculations using Pearson Square (lots of maths required here and unfortunately one of my biggest weakness – give me a packet of crayons any day!).

Lactic acid was the ingredient of the day. Apparently, many butter makers add this to their butter to give it a cultured flavour. It is what you can taste at the very beginning of putting the butter in your mouth, and you taste it in your throat. It has a slight ‘butter popcorn’ flavour. It is considered a natural ingredient because lactic acid is naturally found in milk/cream but I guess it is the shortcut to a cultured flavour without the true culturing process.

So, after all the testing, prodding, churning, calibrating, mathematics, measuring, tasting and discussion here are the outcomes:

  • Sweet cream – a tad uninspiring. We added a lactic acid which gave it some oomph! but it needed salt in my opinion as it lacked body and that nice ‘cooked’ flavour in fresh butter. Very white too in colour.
  • Whey Cream – nice flavour. You get a subtle cheese flavour in the butter. I could get used to this. Well worth the experiment back home. Tended to be creamier tasting than the sweet cream. Also very white in colour.
  • Mix of Sweet and Whey Cream – Interesting but I think the addition of lactic acid killed it. It came out quite tangy and tended to take away the true flavour of the butter.