The week is flying by and it’s the 3rd day of the butter making apprenticeship. To give you a bit of a background to students in the course, there are 9 of us enrolled and we have come from a dairy background of some sort.

There are 2 master cheesemakers from the US – in fact I am the only student from overseas, the remaining students hail from Wisconsin (2 students) and surrounding states or further afield such as Michigan, Colorado, Minneapolis etc.

Most of the students haven’t had any experience in butter only cheese with the exception of Bob who is one of the master cheesemakers (he started cheesemaking at 16 years of age!) and he works at Carr Valley  which makes the sheep, goat, cow and menage butters.

Other students are working in medium to large dairy manufacturing factories, like Libby who works for the French company Danone, and then there is Drew, who works for an engineering company looking to manufacture butter making equipment.

Our most elder and most wiser student Rita, comes from 2 hours outside of Madison and is embarking on an ambitious yet equally amazing cheese/butter making project. She is currently putting in place a plan to convert her grandfather’s old dairy which was built in the mid-1800s, into a creamery. She has been told by the authorities that she won’t get approval until she has put in place a water-tight strategy to harvest the whey. They don’t want it anywhere in the nearby fields or waterways.

Her idea? To (somehow) convert the whey into alcohol. One to watch for sure.

Today we made 3 batches of butter (pictured below).

  • sweet cream salted butter
  • sweet cream unsalted butter
  • whey cream salted butter

(An interesting thing I learnt today about whey cream butter.

In the US you can make butter using only whey cream and you don’t have to declare the ingredient as whey cream and you can still call it butter as long as it is 80% butterfat or more.

Not sure if this is the case in Australia or what Dairy Food Safety Victoria (DFSV) thinks about this. Something to look into.)

We were also introduced to some different kinds of salts from Cargill who specialise in mining and selling salt in the US.

Some salt can be as fine, if not finer, than confectioner’s sugar or icing sugar. A little bit certainly goes a long way. If you’re not careful, salt can make for wet butter, so it’s important to calculate your salt carefully. Weepy butter shortens shelf life.

Cultured butter is on the agenda tomorrow so we prepared the cream today with culture and need to leave it overnight to ripen, ready for churning tomorrow (pictured below).

Towards the end of the class, we were given some of the butter we made and went crazy concocting our own recipes for flavoured butter (pictured below). I made a sun-dried tomato and Italian herb butter.

Tomorrow we get to taste the variations and see who wins.

The prize is beer!