Making Butter

Robert take a turn, supervised by Kevin and young butter maker

Robert takes a turn, supervised by Kevin and young butter maker

At the recent Autumn Fair (known as the Thrashing) in Ballydehob, Robert and I got a chance to take a turn at the butter churn and to watch the magical transformation of milk into butter and buttermilk.

Pouring off the buttermilk

Pouring off the buttermilk

It's ready!

It’s ready!

Washing, salting, shaping

Washing, salting, shaping

To reward us for all that labour (turning that handle was so hard), we had a butter feast – homemade soda bread made using the buttermilk, with homemade butter and homemade jam. There are lots of good Irish soda bread recipes on the internet: here’s the one I used. And yes, you can get buttermilk in North America – take a really good look on the milk shelves and you’ll see it lurking in a corner near the cream.

Homemade soda bread by the fire.

Homemade soda bread by the fire

Homemade jam – this is a fabulous five minute jam recipe I found from a link on a friend’s Facebook page and adapted slightly. Mine is blackberry (bumper crop this year!) but you could use any berry you want.

1 cup blackberries

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp warm water

1 tbsp chia seeds

Blend (in a blender) and pour into something (yogurt container? Glass?). Put in fridge for an hour. Hey presto – delicious jam! The chia seeds jellify and that’s what binds the jam. You have to keep this jam in the fridge and eat it within a couple of weeks, since it’s not cooked. It will freeze well. I was introduced to chia years ago by my friend Christi from El Salvador. It’s available in supermarkets and health food stores.