City raised folks like myself harvest our cream and butter in the refrigerated section of the local market. The cream is easy to find since it’s always next to the milk. However, the butter could be anywhere – perhaps next to the yogurts or over by the cheeses. In the market or on the tongue, butter and its replacements are one product, cream another one entirely.
So, tasting fresh churned butter is a revelation. Aha – butter is nothing other than agitated cream! Like twins, the butter is simply born a few minutes after the cream following some extra tremors and contortions. Butter is cream transformed, one note up on the cream register, but still light and clear and, yes, creamy on the tongue.
No doubt this is a commonplace to my farm neighbours but it took Mary Flynn’s demonstration during the Coole Cottages Open House during Heritage Week to bring this matter forcefully to my taste buds. Mary runs Nells House, named for hubby’s Aunt Nell, up Rathgormack direction. Mary invites primary schools, scouts and adult groups to learn some oldtime farm skills.
Aunt Nell used to separate cream from milk simply by pouring it still warm from the cow into a great big basin. Nell would give the lighter cream a few hours to bubble to the top of the basin. Then she’d skim it off and scoop it into a wooden churn. The normal ratio was 10 pounds of milk to produce 1 of cream.
Then came the cranking of the churn handle, a steady and smooth operation with no great excess of speed allowed. Everyone who visited during the churning took their turn. It was particularly auspicious if a man of the cloth dropped by since his turnings called heavenly blessings upon the finished product.
Depending on the heat of the day, as little as 20 minutes of steady churning could produce enough butter to feed a family for days. Any extra butter could be sold. Such sales of butter and eggs earned many a household the funds for school supplies and the yarns and cloth that kept the family clothed.
But enough history, for all this is prelude to the payoff. Spread the freshly churned butter on a genuine Waterford blaa. Mmm…mmm! You may travel this wide world over, but you won’t find a more appetising treat.
You can enjoy seriously good food at sponsors Clonea Strand Hotel overlooking the area’s finest European Blue Flag beach.