Country Traditions

May 8, 2011

Make Your Own Butter: Organic Gardening

Filed under: Churning butter, family, herbs, recipes — Tags: — dmacc502 @ 8:08 am

Homemade, fresh organic butter can be made in minutes—10, to be exact. All that’s needed is organic cream and an electric mixer.

“It is so simple, but so exquisite,” says Monique Jamet Hooker, professional chef and author in DeSoto, Wisconsin. She grew up on a farm in Brittany, France, and as a child took turns with her sisters working the butter churn. But she’s given up the old-fashioned method in favor of the electric mixer.

via Make Your Own Butter: Organic Gardening.


October 12, 2010

How to make butter

Filed under: Churning butter, herbs, recipes — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 10:48 am
Butter making woman

Image via Wikipedia

Homemade butter butter from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

One morning at the Cookery School, one of the students was whipping cream for pudding. She left it to whip merrily in the food mixer while she went off to put the finishing touches to the rest of her meal. Suddenly there was a sloshing sound. The cream had overwhipped and she was astonished to see what was essentially butter and whey in the bowl. She was just about to dump it when I came around the corner, and just managed to save it before it went into the hens’ bucket. I gathered the other students around and showed them the miracle of how cream turns into butter. Their amazement and delight made me realise that over half the group didn’t know that butter comes from cream, or how easy it is to make butter at home without any special equipment. This is definitely a forgotten skill.

  1. Forgotten Skills of Cooking
  2. by Darina Allen
  3. 600pp,
  4. Kyle Cathie,
  5. £27.00
  1. Buy Forgotten Skills of Cooking at the Guardian bookshop

When I was a child, butter was part of everyday life on dairy farms, and I learned the simple art of making it from my great-aunt Lil, who lived in County Tipperary. Every farm had a churn, but you don’t need a churn or any specific equipment to make butter; in fact, if you over-whip cream, like my student did, you can quite easily make butter by accident. (I’ve done it on many occasions!) Then all you have to do is drain and wash it several times, knead it until the water runs clear, and then add some salt to preserve it. A food mixer is an advantage, though not essential. You can also turn cream to butter by shaking the cream in a jam jar, though it begins to be hard work.

I’m very fortunate to live in a country renowned for its wonderful butter. In Ireland we grow grass like nowhere else in the world, because our climate is ideal for it – all that lovely soft rain. The Cork Butter Market, which opened in the 1770s and continued to trade for 150 years, was the biggest in the world and exported Irish butter as far as the Caribbean. The butter was packed in hardwood casks called firkins and brought by horsedrawn cart from Kerry and West Cork which are still known today as butter roads.

Originally home buttermakers didn’t understand the science of buttermaking, but were well aware that it sometimes inexplicably could go wrong, so many piseogs (superstitions) prevailed. Butter luck required following all sorts of rituals, like placing a horseshoe below the churn or sprinkling primroses on the threshold of the churning room, though only if they’d been picked before sunrise. In County Mayo, using a dead man’s hand to stir the churn was highly recommended!

Nowadays, butter has to compete with a bewildering variety of spreads. I prefer good, honest butter. We know where it comes from and it has no additives, nor does it require any complicated processing.

Butter stamps

Butter stamps were a traditional way of marking butter. People often used a flower or plant motif etched into a wooden stamp. They would dip the stamp in cold water then press it onto little butter pats to make their butter completely unique.

Making butter

You don’t absolutely need butter bats to make butter, but they do make it much easier to shape the butter into blocks. They’re more widely available than you might think, considering buttermaking is certainly an alternative enterprise, but keep an eye out in antique shops and if you find some, snap them up. A good pair will bring you butter luck.

Unsalted butter should be eaten within a few days, but the addition of salt will preserve it for two to three weeks. Also, you can make butter with any quantity of cream but the amount used in the recipe below will keep you going for a week or so and give you enough to share with friends (though not in my house!).

Remember, sunlight taints butter (and milk) in a short time, so if you are serving butter outdoors, keep it covered.

Makes about 1kg (2¼lb) butter and 1 litre (1¾ pints) buttermilk

2.4 litres (4 pints) unpasteurised or pasteurised double cream at room temperature
2 teaspoons dairy salt (optional)
Pair of butter bats (also called ‘butter hands’)

Soak the wooden butter bats or hands in iced water for about 30 minutes so they do not stick to the butter.

How to make butter 1Whisk the cream at a medium speed in a food mixer until it is thick. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

Pour the double cream into a cold, sterilised mixing bowl. If it’s homogenised, it will still whip, but not as well. If you’re using raw cream and want a more traditional taste, leave it to ripen in a cool place, where the temperature is about 8°C (46°F), for up to 48 hours.

Whisk the cream at a medium speed in a food mixer until it is thick. First it will be softly whipped, then stiffly whipped. Continue until the whipped cream collapses and separates into butterfat globules. The buttermilk will separate from the butter and slosh around the bowl.

How to make butter 2Turn the mixture into a cold, spotlessly clean sieve and drain well. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

Turn the mixture into a cold, spotlessly clean sieve and drain well. The butter remains in the sieve while the buttermilk drains into the bowl. The buttermilk can be used to make soda bread or as a thirst-quenching drink (it will not taste sour). Put the butter back into a clean bowl and beat with the whisk for a further 30 seconds to 1 minute to expel more buttermilk. Remove and sieve as before.

How to make butter 3Knead the butter to force out as much buttermilk as possible. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

Fill the bowl containing the butter with very cold water. Use the butter bats or your clean hands to knead the butter to force out as much buttermilk as possible. This is important, as any buttermilk left in the butter will sour and the butter will go off quickly. If you handle the butter too much with warm hands, it will liquefy.

Drain the water, cover and wash twice more, until the water is totally clear.

Weigh the butter into 110g (4oz), 225g (8oz) or 450g (1lb) slabs. Pat into shape with the wet butter hands or bats. Make sure the butter hands or bats have been soaked in ice-cold water for at least 30 minutes before using to stop the butter sticking to the ridges. Wrap in greaseproof or waxed paper and keep chilled in a fridge. The butter also freezes well.


Salted butter
If you wish to add salt you will need ¼ teaspoon of plain dairy salt for every 110g (4oz) of butter. Before shaping the butter, spread it out in a thin layer and sprinkle evenly with dairy salt. Mix thoroughly using the butter pats, then weigh into slabs as before.

Spreadable butter
I much prefer unadulterated butter, rather than butters with additives that change the texture. So if you want to be able to spread butter easily, simply leave it out of the fridge for a few hours in a covered container.

Butter ballsButter balls or pats. Photograph: Peter Cassidy

Butter balls or ‘pats’
This is a traditional way of serving butter for the table and at Ballymaloe House, staff members make butter balls every day and butter is still served in this way. Put the butter bats or hands into a deep container of iced water for about 30 minutes. Cut the cold butter into dice. Pick up a piece with the butter bats. Hold one bat flat with the ridged side upwards and the knob of butter on top, then roll the other bat around over the butter to form a ball. Drop each into a bowl of iced water.

Clarified butter
Clarified butter is excellent for cooking because it can withstand a higher temperature when the salt and milk particles are removed. Butter starts to burn at 177°C (350°F), whereas clarified butter can withstand temperatures of up to 252°C (485°F). Use clarified butter for recipes where you want the flavour of butter without the risk of burning, like in a French omelette, when cooking fish à la meunière, frying eggs and so on.

To make clarified butter, melt butter gently in a saucepan or in a Pyrex measure in a very low oven, at 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2. Leave it to stand for a few minutes, then spoon the crusty white layer of salt particles off the top. Underneath this crust there will be a clear liquid butter – the clarified butter. The milky liquid at the bottom can be used in a white sauce.

Ghee is clarified butter from India, usually slightly soured and made from either cow’s or water buffalo’s milk. It cooks longer, hence it keeps longer, and has a lovely nutty flavour.

To make ghee, melt butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat for about 45–60 minutes, by which time the sediment will have settled on the bottom of the pan. Strain through a cheesecloth into a sterilised tin or jar, cover and store in a fridge.

Maitre d’hotel butter
This is one of the oldest classic flavoured butters, I remember it as a child at the Clarence Hotel in Dublin. People add all kinds of ingredients to butter nowadays, but originally it was served this way. It is good served with a piece of pan-grilled fish or steak.

110g (4oz) butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cream the butter, then add in the parsley and a few drops of lemon juice at a time.

Roll into butter pats or form into a roll and wrap in greaseproof paper or tin foil, screwing each end so that it looks like a cracker. Refrigerate to harden.


Watercress butter
Substitute watercress for parsley in the above recipe. Serve with Pan-Grilled Fish using 8 x 175g (6oz) fresh john dory fillets.

Wild garlic butter
Substitute wild garlic for the parsley in the recipe above. Serve with pan-grilled fish or meat.

Fresh herb butter
Substitute a mixture of chopped fresh herbs, e.g. parsley, chives, thyme, fennel or another herb for the parsley. Serve with pangrilled fish.

Mint or rosemary butter
Substitute 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint or 1–2 tablespoons of rosemary for the parsley and serve with pan-grilled lamb chops.

Dill or fennel butter
Substitute dill or fennel for the parsley. Serve with fish.

Mustard and parsley butter
Add 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard to the basic recipe. Serve with herrings.

Nasturtium butter
Substitute 3 tablespoons of chopped nasturtium flowers (red, yellow and orange) for the parsley. Serve with pan-grilled fish.

Garlic butter
Add 3–5 cloves of crushed garlic. Slather over bruschetta or toast. Also great with pan-grilled fish, meat or vegetables.

Anchovy butter
Add six anchovy fillets and mash them in. Serve with pan-grilled fish or fresh radishes.

Brandy or rum butter
If you have a food-processor, use it for this recipe and you will get a wonderfully light and fluffy butter.

75g (3oz) unsalted butter
75g (3oz) icing sugar
2 tablespoons brandy or Jamaican rum, or more to taste

Cream the butter until it is very light. Add the icing sugar and beat again. Then beat in the brandy or rum, drop by drop. Serve with plum pudding or mince pies.

• This method and recipes are taken from Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen (Kyle Cathie, £30) with photography by Peter Cassidy


October 11, 2010

Preserving the Harvest: Pumpkin Butter, A delicious way to savour pumpkin :By Kelly Rossiter

Filed under: gardening, recipes — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 3:52 pm


A pumpkin stem.

Image via Wikipedia


Spiced Pumpkin Butter

2 small pumpkins, about 4 lbs each
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sweet apple cider
3 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

1. Have ready, hot, sterilized jars and their lids, unless you plan on freezing the butter.

2. Preheat the oven to 425F. Cut each pumpkin in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Brush the pumpkin halves with the melted butter and place, cut side down, on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the pumpkin halves. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh from the pumkin halves and place in a bowl. Stir and mash the pumkin until pureed. Measure out 5 cups of the pumpkin puree; reserve any remaining puree for another use.

3. In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the pumpkin puree, sugars, cider, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir until blended. Bring just to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium how and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides of the pan, until the butter is thick and mounds on a spoon, about 30 minutes.

4. Ladle the hot butter into jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids. The sealed jars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. The butter can also be stored in airtight containers or heavy-duty resealable plastic bags in the freezer for up to 1 year.

October 1, 2010

Roasted Pheasants

Filed under: animals, recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 10:13 am
Roast tarragon pheasant

Image by dearbarbie via Flickr


  1. 1/2 pound fresh horseradish, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  2. 3 cups water
  3. 1 tablespoon sugar
  4. Salt
  5. 2 tablespoons crème fraîche
  6. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  7. 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  8. 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  9. 1 teaspoon chopped sage
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  11. Two 3-pound pheasants
  12. 1 lemon, quartered


  1. In a covered medium saucepan, simmer the horseradish with 2 cups of the water, the sugar and a large pinch of salt until the horseradish is tender, 30 minutes; drain well. In a food processor, puree the horseradish with the crème fraîche. Scrape the puree into a small bowl and season with salt.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, blend the butter with the thyme, rosemary and sage and season with salt and pepper. Rub 11/2 tablespoons of the herb butter under the skin of each pheasant. Rub the remaining 1 tablespoon of herb butter all over the outside of the birds and season with salt and pepper. Tuck 2 lemon quarters into each cavity and tie the legs with string.
  3. Set the pheasants on an oiled rack in a roasting pan on their sides, and roast for 30 minutes. Carefully turn the birds to the other side and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the pheasants breast side up and roast for 10 minutes. Pour the cavity juices into the roasting pan, pressing lightly on the lemon to release the juice. Transfer the pheasants to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Set the roasting pan over 2 burners. Add the remaining 1 cup of water and simmer, scraping up the brown bits, until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Pour the juices into a small saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  5. Carve the pheasants and arrange on plates. Using 2 soup spoons, scoop the horseradish puree into neat ovals and set them beside the pheasant. Pour the pan juices over the pheasant and serve with the Caramelized Endives with Apples.

September 28, 2010

German Baby Pancakes

Filed under: cast iron, recipes — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:43 pm
Small maple syrup jug with non-functional loop...

Image via Wikipedia

By: Shirley Smith
“Quick, easy and delicious. Serve with lemon wedges, warm maple syrup and jam.”

3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet and heat the skillet in oven.
Beat eggs at high speed with an electric mixer. Slowly add the milk and flour.
Pour batter into hot skillet. Return skillet to oven and bake for 20 minutes. It will rise like a souffle, then fall when taken out of oven. Lightly dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Sticky Bun Syrup

Filed under: recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 11:04 am
A traditional sticky bun loaf

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a syrup recipe for a brown sugar sticky bun. Use your own roll recipe to accompany!
1 c. light corn syrup
1 stick plus 1 tbsp. unsalted (sweet) butter
1 c. packed light brown sugar
½ c. chopped pecans

Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and syrup and stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Add pecans and simmer 2 minutes.

September 17, 2010

Baked Apples

Filed under: recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 5:19 pm
Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

Image via Wikipedia



Wash and core apples, then remove a 1 inch strip of peel around the middle of each apple; place in a 2-quart shallow baking dish.Combine sugar, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar in a small bowl; fill the center of each apple and dot with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter. Add just enough water to baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish; bake, uncovered, at 350° for about 30 minutes, or until apples are tender. Baste with juices occasionally. Serve warm

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Buttermilk Cake by SYLVIA Britton

Filed under: Churning butter, recipes — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 12:08 pm
I subbed some self-rising flour for baking pow...

Image by urbanfoodie33 via Flickr

A simple country buttermilk cake with strawberries is the perfect accompaniment to an evening meal.  This recipe is very old and very simple. It makes a great cake for afternoon tea and for whipping up quickly when company comes over unexpectedly.

Prepare a 9 inch round cake pan by buttering it well and then sprinkling it with flour, shake out excess flour. Preheat oven to 400*F.


1 1/4 cups self rising flour or use 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda.
1/2 stick butter
2/3 cups sugar
Another 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups capped, chopped strawberries or use whole raspberries or even whole blackberries
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Cream butter and 2/3 cups sugar til its fluffy and light colored. Add the egg and mix in. Add the flour )salt,soda and baking powder if using) mix well.

Add buttermilk and vanilla. Stir til blended. Pour into prepared pan. Scatter chopped berries over top then sprinkle with sugar. You can use sanding sugar to make it really sparkly!
Bake at 400*F for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a very thin small knife in the center. If the knife comes out clean the cake is done.
Take out of the oven when done, cool 10 minutes. Turn out onto a plate to cut and serve.

September 16, 2010

Making Buttermilk

Filed under: Churning butter, farming, making cheese, recipes, Vinegar — Tags: , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 4:46 pm

How to make buttermilk with easy instructions and some recipes for homemade buttermilk.

Buttermilk is a by-product that you get when learning how to make butter. However, when you examine it carefully, it is nowhere near the thick white buttermilk that you can buy from the local store. This is because this buttermilk has had a culture added to it, and it is much thicker than what is left behind after making butter.

However, once you start making your own buttermilk at home, you will realize that what you have made is nothing like the store-bought product either! Instead you will have a far better product that is rich in taste and far superior to what you can buy.


Take your whole milk out that you have bought from the store, or, if you are lucky enough, your own raw milk, and let it sit on the counter in your kitchen for an hour or two. This will bring the milk to room temperature, before the next stage.


Take 1 cup of the milk and add either 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, or 1 tablespoon of white vinegar,or 2 tablespoons cream of tarter. Stir through well and leave for 15 minutes or so, until the milk starts to curdle.


Either use straightaway, stirring before drinking, or bottle and place in the fridge. Your buttermilk will keep for a week.

September 15, 2010

Squirrel Dumplings

Filed under: animals, recipes — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 9:24 am

This is an excellent way to cook old squirrels which are too tough for frying.
2 dressed squirrels, 2 to 2½ lbs
2½ cups water
1½ tsp salt
Dash of black pepper
2 tbsp
Dumpling Recipe
Wipe thoroughly with a damp cloth and pick off any hair .
Remove any shot
Then wash well inside and out with warm water
Cut into serving pieces
Put squirrel into a kettle, add water and salt
heat to boiling, then reduce heat
cover tightly and simmer until very tender, from 2 to 3 hrs the time depending on age of animal
The meat should be almost ready to fall from the bones
Add pepper and butter
Increase the heat until liquid boils
Lay the rolled dumplings over the top of squirrel, cover tightly and cook for 12 to 15 minutes
Do not lift cover during cooking

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