One of my earliest food memories is a bowl of freshly cooked carrots, melting butter sneaking its way through the bright orange discs. I am sure my love affair with butter began right there and then and I have been butterly faithful ever since.
I have fond memories of Granny McCormack, sleeves rolled up as she churned butter with the strength of a man twice her size. As a child, I was so sure she possessed special powers when she could take a pail of milk and produce these beautiful yellow bricks of salted goodness. Each one etched with perfect lines, the imprint of her butter pats and hard work. At the time, it was just one of the things that Granny did but now years later, I feel privileged to have witnessed and tasted this old tradition first hand.
These memories came flooding back recently when an order arrived from Co Down. I was a child again as I opened the package to find small brown paper wrapped rolls of Abernethy hand churned butter. With some freshly baked bread, I was way back in my Gran’s kitchen. Smooth and creamy with just a hint of salt, Abernethy lived up to all I had heard about it. It must have been 30 odd years since I had tasted hand churned butter but it was just as I remembered it to be. Thanks to Alison and Will for sending me back in time.
Butter is one thing I will never give up (that and coffee). It is the one sacred ingredient in my kitchen that probably sums me up as a cook and baker. The ultimate in comfort food because so many things either start simply or end beautifully with it and without it, many wonderful things just would not taste the same.
Thankfully butter is winning back its good reputation. A natural and honest food product there are many benefits for health and taste that lower fat alternatives just cannot deliver on. I cannot imagine baking without it or having to use a substitute instead.
One little tip worth sharing is to have some homemade Ghee in your cupboard. With very little cost and effort, you end up with a jar of magic. As the milk solids are removed in the process, Ghee will cook to a higher smoking point without burning, it is also much healthier (an Ayurvedic gem!) and lasts longer. I like to infuse mine sometimes with spices, herbs, garlic etc which can be a great way of getting flavour into dishes.
Ghee – the how to:-
Melt butter slowly over low heat (don’t be in a hurry)
Add spices / herbs / garlic (optional)
Cool when the milk solids separate and fall to the bottom
Strain (and repeat if necessary)
Pop in a clean/dry jar (cover when cooled completely)
So there you have it. A little snapshot of my buttery love. Mashed potato, homemade bread, curry, rice, cookies, cake…..none of which would be the same without butter. And neither would I.
Spread some love today!!