Well, I’ve learned it’s not just yellow.

Butter comes from different animals, flavours, creams, diets, care practices and therefore, can be different colours. So much so that the USDA issue a colour chart for butter as a guide.

I think in Australia we have one colour for bovine butter – yellow, and this is why Kerry Gold is so popular in the US. The market loves the colour and it has flavour.

Food for thought.

Friday was the last day of the Wisconsin Buttermaker’s License Apprenticeship and with that, I felt all of my questions were somewhat answered.

It was a non-bovine day today as we were making 3 batches of butter using sweet sheep cream, goat cream and sheep whey cream – exciting.

The cream had been delivered the day before from a local cheese factory Carr Valley, and so it was fresh and there was plenty of it too.

The sheep cream went in first and since it was a large batch – approximately 122 lbs = 55 litres – it was going to take a bit longer. Once it was finished, we salted half and left the other half unsalted. The batch appeared a slightly off-white colour, with a tinge of grey/yellow and had a fresh milk aroma.

Salted was the preferred butter. It was nutty and not so sheepish, and subtle as well. It is not common in Wisconsin but you can find it at a local supermarket/grocer, along with sheep cheese and yoghurt also.

One thing about studying butter in the US is that all measurements are done in pounds and gallons, and temperatures in fahrenheit. I always had my phone on hand to convert these into kilos, litres and celcius. It was hard to work under the American scale.

The second batch was goat. Again a big batch and churned in 45 minutes.

As with all batches we watched through the round window for the cream to ‘break’. This was when you could see it had started to bud into solids. Then we would wait a further 3 minutes or so and the buttermilk would ‘wash’ the window. This would be a translucent wash; then you would know it was ready.

Ready butter is when it is in the ‘popcorn’ or grainy stage (see picture below). The smaller, the better, so there is little buttermilk residing in the butter.

Then it was washed and would go through the churn for further kneading.

There was heaps of goat butter once it was done. But it was very soft. When this happens it needs a chill water hosing over the churn whilst kneading to harden it up. Goat butter is very soft to start with, so low temperatures than usual are necessary.

After salting the goat butter it tasted, well, goaty, and its colour was a pure white, resembling meringue.

The final batch was sheep whey cream and perhaps my favourite of the 3.

Because it is whey from cheese making you can imagine the flavours would carry that of the cultures and some cheese as well. It was like tasting a cheesy-flavoured butter but subtle with a nice creamy finish.

Overall, it was well worth the visit to Madison and to do the apprenticeship.  My questions were answered and it has affirmed my buttermaking skills, but not only that, I return home armed with new ideas and new skills in buttermaking.

Can’t wait to try them on for size – watch this space!