Monday, February 13, 2012

Butter and Buttermaking

This should have been posted yesterday but our intrawebz was down. From Clayton's Quaker Cookbook, 1883.

"With the exception of bread, which has been appropriately termed "the staff of life," there is, perhaps, no other article of food more universally used by mankind than butter. Notwithstanding this well established fact, it is a lamentable reflection, that really good butter is one of the rarest and most difficult articles to be procured. Although the adulterations of this staple article of food are numerous, the main cause of the quantities of bad butter with which the community is burdened, is ignorance of the true methods, and slovenliness in the preparation of this staple article, for which no reasonable excuse can be urged. In the making of good butter, no process is more simple or easily accomplished. The Quakers, living in the vicinity of Philadelphia, more than a century ago, so thoroughly understood and practised the art of making the best butter, that the products of their dairies sold readily in that city for from five to eight cents per pound more than that produced by any other class.
With these thrifty people, cleanliness was really regarded as "akin to godliness," and the principal was thoroughly and practically carried out in all their every day affairs. The most scrupulous attention being paid to the keeping of all the utensils used scrupulously clean, and so thoroughly work the mass, that every particle of milk is expelled. The greatest evil to be guarded against, is the too free use of salt, which for this purpose should be of the utmost purity and refined quality. I am satisfied, from personal observation, that the butter made at the Jersey Farm, at San Bruno, in the vicinity of San Francisco, in every respect equals in quality the celebrated Darlington, Philadelphia.
For the keeping milk fresh and sweet, and the proper setting of the rich cream, an old style spring-house is essentially requisite. Who that has ever visited one of these clean, cool and inviting appendages of a well conducted farm and well ordered household, at some home-farm of the olden time, does not recall it in the mind's-eye, as vividly as did the poet Woodworth when he penned that undying poem of ancient home-life, "The Old Oaken Bucket that Hung in the Well."
Properly constructed, a spring-house should be built of stone, which is regarded as the coolest—brick or concrete—with walls at least twelve inches in thickness. The floor should be of brick, and not more than two feet below the surface of the ground. The roof should be of some material best adapted to warding off the heat, and keeping the interior perfectly cool, while due attention should be paid to the allowance of a free circulation of air, and provision be made for thorough ventilation; only as much light as is actually necessary should be admitted, and where glass is used for this purpose, it should[Pg 51] invariably be shielded from the sun. Walled trenches being constructed for this purpose, a constant stream of cool running water should pass around the pans containing the milk and cream, which, for the making of good butter, should never be permitted to become sour. The shelving and other furniture, and all wooden utensils used, should be of white ash, maple or white wood, in order to avoid all danger of communicating distasteful or deleterious flavors. As there is no liquid more sensitive to its surroundings, or which more readily absorbs the flavor of articles coming in contact with it, than pure milk, everything that has a tendency to produce this deleterious result should be carefully excluded. Neither paints or varnish should be used about the structure, and the entire concern should be as utterly free from paint as the inside of an old time Quaker meeting-house.
In making butter, the cream should be churned at a temperature of about 65 degrees. When the churning is finished, take up the lump and carefully work out every particle of milk. Never wash or put your hands in the mass. To each pound of butter work in a little less than an ounce of the purest dairy salt. Set the butter away, and at the proper time work the mass over until not a particle of milk remains."

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