Making Irish Butter

butter balls

Who knew there was a museum of butter? Well, there is, and it’s in Cork, Ireland. Of course, the country has a rich history making dairy products, but considering how supportive I’ve been of butter worldwide, it was somewhat of a pilgrimage for me to get to where it probably originated.

cork butter museum

Throughout history, butter was considered extremely valuable as it was a source of fat and nourishment. Meat and other forms of protein were, and still are, considered items of luxury in most of the world. Im ur is sweet butter, in Irish (gruiten is salted butter), and no matter where it’s made, butter not only takes quite some skill to produce, but historically has been women’s work.

Centuries ago, women were in charge of making the butter as it was believed that the mystical powers that turned liquid cream into firm butter were best dealt with by womenfolk. According to Peter Foynes, the museum director, back then they didn’t understand how butter was actually made; they churned it up and somehow it worked. Lucky charms, perhaps a bit of salt or a horseshoe (and a few less savory things, which aren’t for the squeemish..and please don’t ask, as it involved body parts) were often put under or near the butter churn, to ensure the fabled luck of the Irish.

fresh butter butter

The word daege (the root of the word ‘dairy’) in Irish means “woman servant” and producing and selling butter was one of the few ways that women could work independently and make money in twentieth century Ireland. And even today, many creameries and cheese shops are owned and run by women. Not just in Ireland, but around the world, in disparate places like Cowgirl Creamery just outside of San Francisco to Marie Quattrehomme in Paris.

1000 year old butter

Although it didn’t look especially appetizing (and thank goodness they weren’t offering samples), in the museum was a container of gray, crumbly ‘bog butter’, which was one thousand years old. Peter told me that there was an older wooden vat of butter in a museum in Dublin that was three thousand years old, and when I asked how they managed to find these butters buried under the mossy bogs, he shrugged and said, “They probably just forgot about them.”

butter notice

Someone who probably wouldn’t forget one flake of butter is Madge Ahern, who gave us a butter-making lesson. She wouldn’t tell us her age, but said she’s been making butter almost every morning for “…oh, around fifty years, I’d say….”

She starts with Irish cream which is nearly 40% butterfat; French supermarket crème liquide is about 30% fat and American cream hovers in the range of 35%. For all the substitution folks out there, there’s no substitute for good cream. And no, you can’t use skim milk.

madge churning butter churning butter

Madge poured three cups of cream into her hand-churning device, which she had chilled earlier to expedite the process and began cranking away. (If you want to try it at home, you can just shake it in a big, clean jar.) After about ten minutes of turning the paddles briskly, fearing the poor dear was tired, a few of us offered to take over the task. And after the crank got the best of a few of us less-hardly types, Madge stepped back up to her beater to show us younger kids how it’s done.

butter jar just-churned butter

When I broached the subject of using one of them new-fangled electric-style mixer gadgets, she said that they turned the butter too fast; that it needed to be slow and steady. She said that the best homemade butter was made by hand, and that was that.

Then she went back to her cranking.

draining butter straining butter

After nearly fifteen minutes of continuously turning, when my arm surely would have fallen off, inside the big square jar I could see through the sides that the beaters were finally picking up butterfat solids, indicating the butter was happening. When it was finally in a semi-solid state, nearly the consistency of oatmeal porridge, she strained it through a cheesecloth, separating the butterfat from the whey. Then she poured the buttermilk into glasses and offered us a round of drinks.

Madge doesn’t drink, as we learned later that night over dinner, when the rest of us polished off a few bottles and her glass was still full. I guess when you’ve been getting up every morning for the last fifty years to make butter for your family, you need to be well-rested so you’re up to the task.

butter curds

I noticed the color changing and deepening as she went, kneading the paste with her hand to release the water, until the butter came together into a smooth paste. Because of the process, the butter changed several times, from being wan yellow, to the more sunny hue of fresh butter as we know it. (And if you don’t know it, do give it a try. Or come to Cork.)

madge hands kneading

Buttermilk is pretty valuable in Ireland too, and being a frugal culture, it’s used to make bread, namely Irish soda bread, brown bread, and scones. We talked a bit about all the different kind of scones they have in Ireland.


With a look, and certainly not reaching that far back into her memory, she said “Oh, it’s easy to make scones; Take a pound of flour, 4 ounces of sugar, 4 ounces of butter, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, an egg, and 1/2 pint of milk or more, and mix them together. Then portion them out and bake at 190ºC for about fifteen minutes. And that’s it.”

kneading butter

I’m sure her family has enjoyed plenty of fresh, hot scones on a daily basis, and one lick of that butter, which they use to make them, and I could easily become a convert myself. If only I was Irish. (Can I convert?)

buttermilk butter

She didn’t mention adding salt to her scone dough, but she does sometimes make gruiten but adding a dose of flaky sea salt to her butter when kneading. “Oh, I never measure. I just add some, salt—see how it tastes, you know” she admitted in her timely Irish accent.

shaped butter shaping butter:rectangle

Then she gave me a taste, warning me that it was too salty, which it wasn’t. (It was, however, amazing.). Then she grabbed two wooden butter paddles with slats to form the hand-kneaded butter into a rounded, buttery brick.

shaping butter butter balls

For parties and guests, she offered, you can pinch off pieces of the butter and roll them into little rounds, which I’d imagine would be pretty good on a hot scone or some Irish soda bread, even if I was just helping myself.

Related Posts and Links

Getting Some Culture (Traveler’s Lunchbox)

I Found the Butter!

Cultured Butter at Home (Michael Ruhlman)

Salted Butter Caramels

Homemade Butter (Wednesday Chef)

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Never miss a post!


  • ron shapley
    September 19, 2010 3:07pm

    and Dave…there is also the Mustard Museum in Cleveland. Who knew ? As for the butter……..Irish Butter vs. French Butter…or are they two different animals ?? I have some Danish butter in my freezer…It’s OK !!! Unsalted generally tastes like lard…

  • Arturo
    September 19, 2010 5:27pm

    mmmmmm. That is Beautiful. I <3 Butter

  • Heather
    September 19, 2010 5:34pm

    I hope you had a chance to visit the English Market in Cork! One of the gems of the city.

  • NickMontreal
    September 19, 2010 5:35pm

    Haha – I post “how I miss butter from across the pond” on your previous post a few minutes ago – and as if by magic….

    Thanks David!

  • September 19, 2010 5:42pm

    A museum for butter (Irish butter!) is probably as good as it gets. Especially when someone as adorable as Madge shows you how she’s been making it for 50 years…or so.
    Cork is definitely moving up on the list….mmmm butter…..

  • September 19, 2010 5:47pm

    Oh my god

    I can only imagine making a pillow of said butter and taking a food coma nap to last all of eternity.

  • September 19, 2010 5:50pm
    David Lebovitz

    Heather: I did go to that market and while it was interesting, we also went to the Middleton farmer’s market, which was amazing because it was small farms and producers. I bought a ton of stuff to bring home, including €35 worth of Irish cheeses. Gulp!

  • Mary
    September 19, 2010 5:53pm

    David I am so happy you are enjoying your Irish jaunt. There is no place like it in the world. That butter is so good on brown bread – slainte!….and yes you could convert!

  • stephanie
    September 19, 2010 6:00pm

    I can’t wait for someone to ask about using something other than heavy cream for this recipe :) Please do not be nice….

  • September 19, 2010 6:15pm

    Thanks for sharing…so interesting. Looks so much betta/buttah that store bought!

  • September 19, 2010 6:24pm

    I was there in 2006… a museum I’ll never forget.

  • Heather
    September 19, 2010 6:47pm

    David, thanks for the tip. We will make sure to hit that market up next time we go. I do remember a delightful French woman at the English market at the cheese stand.

  • September 19, 2010 6:53pm

    hello david – oh a (the?) museum of butter? i could almost smell the scent of fresh cream… i once learned that, when you are whipping cream and gone a bit too much and got the cream overwhipped, you could carry on until it curdles and separates into fresh butter and buttermilk. i did once try it and loved it how sweet it the butter tasted, although i used an electric mixer, so i might have to take up the jar-shaking challenge..

  • Janet
    September 19, 2010 7:44pm

    First New York, then the south of France and now Ireland. You little globe trotter you. :-)
    To create your own butter looks so simple. I’m surprised, I thought it would be a more involved process. Good cream and some labour.
    I might try this at home.

  • Bernadette
    September 19, 2010 7:46pm

    Nothing beats foreign butter but yes I am partial to the Irish kind! Slather it on David!!

  • I have been thinking about making butter for some time. Thanks for the tutorial. I didn’t realize it had to be kneaded after churning. I can remember, as a child, my neighbours making butter on a regular basis. They had their own cows, too.

  • September 19, 2010 10:16pm

    Butter just does make everything better. I too have done it in my KitchenAid. I thought it was great, but maybe I must make it the arm-exhausting way and do a comparison.

  • September 19, 2010 10:27pm

    There is a place where butter and cream and all things dairy come down from the heavens…that place IS Ireland… I guess it is the green grass and the cold water and the clear air… But it forever spoils one for those products anywhere else… The Irish do live a life free of much of the clutter that clings to the rest of us – it shines through in the clarity of their products! (And yes, adoption is possible! I am living proof!) It sounds like you are enjoying your trip! Cheers!

  • September 19, 2010 10:32pm
    David Lebovitz

    UrMomCooks: Interestingly, I didn’t realize that Ireland is now a politically-neutral country in global conflicts (although they do have a few of their own…) But the people seem pretty content; I think much has to do with the familial aspect of life here. A few of us visitors have been wondering if the next generation is going to keep it up, or not. It’s a pretty special place.

    Bernadette: You can get pretty good butter in the United States, often sold at cheese shops and specialty markets. It’s much more expensive than commercial butter, but some of the brands are worth it. As other folks have mentioned, Irish butter is now being sold in places like Trader Joe’s in the states at reasonable prices.

    stephanie: I thought I’d better head that one off right away! ; )

  • September 19, 2010 11:36pm

    I loved that butter museum but was surprised that it does not seem to be well known. We walked to it, and at one point got a bit turned around and asked for directions, or tried to, no one we queried knew of a butter museum. It is indeed filled with a great history lesson. Unfortunately for us they were not making butter the day we visited.

    I am so glad you are helping to get the word out.

  • September 20, 2010 12:26am

    Ah, butter. The basis of all things baked. I, too, have the pleasurable situation of overbeating cream and ‘discovering’ a soft butter.

    Why is my mouth watering? (Wasn’t the foie gras I had at dinner enough?)

  • Paula
    September 20, 2010 12:30am

    Being Irish and living abroad I can honestly say that one of the things I miss the most is the butter (well that and the cheese).

    I’ve not come across the butter museum before – I can’t say I’m surprised there is one though. Looking forward to poping in for a visit next time I’m home and in Cork, it sounds like a really interesting place.

  • Corine
    September 20, 2010 2:23am

    What a beautiful post. Vraiment beau.

  • September 20, 2010 2:45am

    New country – new perspective. When it comes to literature and dairy, my Italian soul does indeed convert to Irish.

  • September 20, 2010 2:51am

    If there is one thing the Irish know, it is their dairy products. We loved them when travelling there.
    I wonder if all that butter kneading has helped her hands to look younger. They certainly look very smooth in your photo.

  • Bonnie
    September 20, 2010 3:17am

    I have a butter churn very similar to Mrs. Ahearns that I bought at an auction more than 30 years ago. I would make butter with my children for Thanksgiving dinner each year, buying heavy cream at a local dairy. There are few things more delicious than fresh buttermilk over Cheerios…small flecks of butter attaching themselves to the cereal! Keep an eye out at antique dealers and auctions for the churns, it is fun and so worth the effort to make your own butter. There is a truly wonderful butter sold in the New England area; “Kate’s, Homemade Butter, Batch Churned the Old Fashioned Way”, made in Maine. Great stuff, worth searching out!
    Enjoying your posts from Ireland!

  • September 20, 2010 3:39am

    Your post brought back memories of my grandmother churning butter at home. She used a contraption of two small wooden churners roped together by thick cord which were attched to the wall.
    The wooden churners were placed in a jar of buttermilk and the two ends of the cords were worked such that the wooden churners were whisked continuously in a clockwise and anti-clockwise motion causing the golden yellow butter to rise to the top.

    A lot of us still make our own butter at home in India today, as it really is the best butter.

  • Billie Kariher-Dyer
    September 20, 2010 3:55am

    I often make my own butter. I do not have a churn. I just use a one pint mason jar (cold) and put in one cup of heavy cream. You just shake it back and forth. It will thicken to whipped cream first and when it fills the jar and does not want to move any more just keep going you are almost there it will be butter in just a moment. Drain off the butter milk. Then you definitely have to knead it ( I also wash it ) Otherwise it spoils much faster because the butter milk will turn if it is trapped in the butter. Kneading and washing is very important. I love making it with a mason jar because it cuts down on the extra gadgets in my already very full kitchen. When I make whipped cream using this method I just quit sooner. Then the whipped cream is already in a jar ready to keep cool in the fridge. Cuts down on washing.

  • Stuart Borken
    September 20, 2010 4:10am

    What a fantastic food blog. The hazelnut chocolate spread of two weeks ago was fantastic, I ordered 4 jars, the plumb and rhubarb crisp was great and now this wonderful Irish butter. Thank you David.

  • September 20, 2010 4:24am

    I remember making butter at a summer camp by shaking a bottle of cream until I thought my arms would fall off. Somehow I doubt that one tasted as good as this. Actually, I don’t doubt, I know… ours was a pale approximation of the wonders of 40% fat ;)

  • Margaret
    September 20, 2010 6:00am

    Hi David, I vividly remember my great aunt making cream, butter and buttermilk on the family farm during my childhood and also running around the garden with a jam jar of milk shaking furiously to acheive about a teaspoon of butter of our own. I had thought that european butter tasted different from butter in the US becasue it is cultered in some way. Do you know anything about this? Margaret

  • September 20, 2010 6:02am

    My Irish Grandmother would give us cream in a mason jar to shake, my Mom remembers the presence of a marble in the jar but I don’t. I love butter, I think it’s in my blood – Mom would sneak a taste when no one was looking but my little ones and hubby are intolerant of cow’s milk (boo). We can occasionally find goat butter but the price is atrocious. I tried to make it at home but I the highest fat goat milk I can find is homogenized. I guess I’m destined to sneak butter in restaurants and buy super expensive goat butter for the home life. Absolutely beautiful post.

  • Skippy
    September 20, 2010 7:35am

    I once bought some fresh cream at a farmer’s market, but then wasn’t able to use it that night as planned. Somehow the bottle drifted to the back of my extra cold fridge, and when I took it out a few days later, it was frozen. I left it out to defrost, honestly not sure what it was going to be like. I noticed puddles of liquid forming in the bowl, when I felt the more solid parts, I realized they felt like, well, butter. So I put the whole mess in some cheesecloth over a strainer, and when all the liquid drained out, I realized I had butter! Not very much, but it was there nonetheless. When I tried to recreate the event by purposely freezing some cream, though, it didn’t work at all. Guess I’ll have to find a big jar….

  • September 20, 2010 8:00am
    David Lebovitz

    Margaret: Most of the butter in France is cultured (you can get it in the US, too, but you have to read the packaging) although they told me that in Ireland, most of the butter isn’t cultured. Perhaps because they don’t use it for pastrymaking for croissants and such, so the lactic acid isn’t so important. And of course, the flavor is a bit different. But the butter I had in Ireland was pretty excellent.

    Amanda: Madge wouldn’t tell us her age but said she had 14 grandchildren, and indeed her hands look quite young. But she also worked that butter churner like a seasoned bodybuilder, which would also be part of her secret of eternal youth, too.

    OysterCulture: The museum is small, but fascinating. They don’t normally do butter demonstrations and this took place at a private home nearby as I’d made arrangements with them before my visit to get a behind-the-scenes look.

  • September 20, 2010 8:30am

    Now you’ve got me fixed on this idea of finding the perfect cream, David. Your posts have been so inspiring lately. Thank you so much for sharing the details of your visit with this woman. The best way to learn is from someone who has been doing it for 50 years. The butter museum is now on my list of things to see one day.

  • Susan
    September 20, 2010 9:27am

    I tried making shortbread with Irish butter during the holidays last year, but it wasn’t successful. The higher fat content kind of overwhelmed the recipe I used. I was so disappointed. European butter is delicious but expensive enough that trying to figure out adjustments to the recipe and experimenting isn’t something I want to take on with my limited knowledge.. I’m hoping one of the blog sites in the UK/Europe might have recipes that use the higher fat butter so that the cookie will have a more balanced mouth feel. Do you make shortbread, David?

    • September 20, 2010 10:14am
      David Lebovitz

      Hi Susan: I do make shortbread but not often enough (I have a brown-sugar pecan recipe in my most recent book). The issue with using specialty products, like high-fat butter and high percentage chocolate in recipes is, as you found out, results can vary. So I generally use “standard” products when testing and developing recipes since that’s what the majority of people use. And it’s hard to tell people to ‘only use handmade butter’ in a recipe, since not everyone wants to make their own butter…like Madge!

      The website for Kerrygold butter does feature recipes that call for high-percentage butter, so that might help.

  • September 20, 2010 10:30am


    I have never been to Ireland, now one more reason to go.

    And I have always wondered about Irish butter, now I know it can be good

    About heavy cream (crème légère) in France, professionals can get 35% fat content, at Metro for instance, made by President, believe it or not, I have some right now, the package says “Crème supérieure, très haute qualité, 35%, Gastronomie et patisserie. If 40% exists, it is only accessible to chefs who have their own private suppliers. Quel dommage.



  • September 20, 2010 10:35am
    David Lebovitz

    Paule: I think perhaps because crème fraîche is available so easily in every supermarket in France, and has a lot of flavor, people tend to use that rather than the standard crème liquide (15-30% fat). Yes, you must go to Ireland!

  • September 20, 2010 10:56am

    Oh yes yom for irish butter!

    We had a butter making demo at the Ennis Farmers Market (Co. Clare) last Friday and it was mouthwateringly good.

  • September 20, 2010 11:02am


    actually creme liquide is what is recommended in all diet recipes as a substitute for butter when spring time “lose a few kilos” subjects appear in every magazine. Funny that here it is called light, as opposed to heavy.

    Definitely a trip to Cork, soon


  • September 20, 2010 11:28am

    Im glad you visited the butter museum! It’s only up the road from me. I’d say she doesn’t add salt to the scone dough because like me she uses salted butter. We use salted butter in nearly every baking recipe over here!

  • September 20, 2010 11:48am

    This makes me crave the salted butter I always ate on my baguette while living in Provence. I can still remember the wonderful crunch and saltiness. Ah… can’t wait for March and my next trip! My grandmother made her own butter on the farm when I was growing up. I doubt that I appreciated it the way I should’ve. Silly little girl.
    I just ordered your new book from Amazon. Je l’attends avec impatience.

  • September 20, 2010 2:16pm

    Is it wrong that your post makes me want to jump into a vat of butter and sit there, thinking about absolutely nothing, for approximately two hours? Well, I’d also have to add a loaf or two of crusty bread to feed myself. I think you need to organize a grand food blogger butter tasting!

  • September 20, 2010 3:04pm

    I am Irish, but 7 generation Canadian, first – so I have absolutely no Irish ethnic identity. I crave it, so this is a special post for me. Can you add the information about where to book this demonstration? Vanja and I have travelled through about 20 countries so far, but not yet to Ireland because? Well, because I want to take my time there… and our trips, though very lengthy in the summers, culminate in the former Yogoslavia where he is from (just posted domestic sausage making from our trip there this summer). I have made my fair share of butter exactly this way…. but, the cream does make all the difference. We have a farmer in Alberta who sells to Planet Organic and their cream is 52% fat. It is heaven. It makes lush creme fraiche and is just like the cream that used to settle on the top of the bottle right after you milked the cow. YUM. Beautiful read, David.

  • September 20, 2010 3:21pm

    Oh my. A butter museum! I want to go to there.

  • Jill
    September 20, 2010 4:15pm

    This post made me homesick for Ireland. I never really lived there, but having spent a month in Galway a few years back, I’ve decided that that’s where I’m meant to be. Everything from the people and the greenery and the food and even the weather just made me feel so content in a way I’ve never experienced anywhere else. I’m glad you had a great time and got to experience what Ireland has to offer. Also, this post made me want to eat bread and butter all day today.

  • Greg
    September 20, 2010 4:20pm

    Thank you for a trip down memory lane. We visited the Butter Museum while my wife was on a business trip to Cork about four years ago.

    While they certainly do a good job of covering the making of butter, I found the Museum to be as much, if not more, devoted to the study of sophsticated marketing campaigns. The presentation of the problem (butter was a low margin, commodity product in the desperately poor Ireland of the 1950s) and how to create product differentiation, conduct market research (specifically middle income homemakers in the UK in the 1960s), choose brand names (ultimately, Kerry Gold), advertise, improve production, packaging, transportation and point of sale methods, and repeat until you have a high margin, luxury product, was impressive in its sweep and detail.

  • September 20, 2010 4:25pm
    David Lebovitz

    Teresa: Enjoy the book! : )

    Greg: Aside from a few vintage Kerrygold butter labels, I didn’t see much else there which was related to butter marketing. The downstairs was a lot of vintage butter-making tools and the upstairs was historical lore and exhibits relating to Irish history and butter-making over time. Perhaps it’s changed since you went there? Or maybe there were other rooms that I didn’t see in the museum, although it isn’t that large…

    Jill: I was surprised at how green everything was. But since Ireland is relatively undeveloped, and the weather so damp, it’s not surprising that it’s so lush.

  • Linda H
    September 20, 2010 4:30pm

    My best shortbread cookie recipe uses butter that has been left at room temperature for several days–a week is recommended. The butter does not go rancid, and the cookies have better flavor. It’s called aged shortbread. Have you heard of this method? At first I thought it meant to bake the cookies then wait–a ridiculous idea, having cookies made and then not eating them!–but it meant “age” the butter. The idea was that shortbread was made originally from leftover dabs of butter collected over several days.
    A sidenote–the Illinois State Fair commissions a sculptor to produce a life-size cow figure made from solid chilled butter each year. So if you ever want to see a life-size solid butter cow, Illinois has one.

  • andrea
    September 20, 2010 4:54pm

    Very cool post! Will forward to my M-in-law, married to a completely Irish gentle soul. I’ll tease her that THIS is what she should be doing for the man she loves so much, SO WHAT if there’s a bit of elbow grease involved, she’s only 80. :-) Of course, I’m going to try it.

  • Penandra
    September 20, 2010 6:04pm

    Thank you for the delightful blog on butter making. I grew up on a dairy farm (upper peninsula of Michigan). We made bread every Saturday and while the bread was rising, it was my job to churn the butter.

    Our churn was a little different than the one Madge uses, although it was still a glass jar with a lid, but ours had a handle that turned the paddles inside the jar and it always seemed to take forever.

    The reward, however, was when the bread came out of the oven. I can tell you that there is nothing that I have ever eaten in this lifetime that is as good as a slice of Auntie Eleanor’s homemade bread fresh from the oven slathered with fresh churned butter (and sometimes a dab of homemade jam)!

    I still make homemade butter for holidays — but I use my electric mixer (on the slowest speed). While it maybe isn’t as good as the butter of my childhood (how could it be, the cream came from the store instead of our own cows), it’s still delicious!

    Thanks for the fond memories . . . enjoy your visit to Ireland!

  • September 20, 2010 6:37pm

    David, do you know if Madge was using raw or pasteurized cream? I’m assuming not ultra-pasteurized (which I never use anyway), but I always wonder, when I think about making butter, whether it would be better with raw cream.

    By the way, I have a butter churn exactly like hers with my name on it at my grandma’s house – it would probably take a good cleaning and oiling to operate (it’s an antique), but it’s fantastic, all the same.

  • September 20, 2010 6:58pm
    David Lebovitz

    margie: She used pasteurized cream.

    Penandra: I know. It did seem to take forever. But when it came together and we tasted it, it was worth the effort. (And she did most of the work, God love her..)

    Linda H: I’ve heard of that, but never tried it. When I started buying my butter at the fromagerie in Paris, they told me not to refrigerate it, or it’ll ruin it. I usually slice off a lob and leave it out for a few days to eat, but do chill the rest. Man, I love butter…

  • Chana
    September 20, 2010 7:12pm

    Great post. If the new-fangled machines (like food processors) are too fast — would an ice cream machine work for churning butter? Or would that be too slow? I’m thinking of not re-freezing the container the next time I make ice cream, so it will be at room temperature. Then I would fill the container with cream, put the churning apparatus back in, and turn the machine on. It churns at a pretty slow and regular pace, I’m wondering if that might do the trick. Any thoughts?

  • Fiona
    September 20, 2010 7:48pm

    Hi David,

    Kind of related to butter- can you please explain the difference between all of the yoghurts available in France? I feel so overwhelmed standing in the aisle at Carrefour and I fear it will take me months to eat through all of the varieties. “bifidus” is a lait fermente- is that still yoghurt? so confused!

    Thanks so much!

  • September 20, 2010 8:25pm

    The Kerrygold butter sold here in Luxembourg is unsalted. No salted variety is offered. Hmph. It is not at all the same as the Kerrygold we enjoyed in Ireland. I think the Kerrygold in Seattle at Trader Joe’s is salted. What’s up with the variety? Seems to me if it’s salty in Ireland, it should be salty all over. Butter. Never thought about it much until I moved to Europe. Love the post, love butter. Enough said.

  • Lisa Z
    September 21, 2010 1:24am

    What a great post and so timely, because I bought, at the Alemany Flea Market in SF, the crank part of the same churn she uses, only I think a bigger one. Mine is called a Dazey Churn and looks like it has the same red “football” shaped think from which the handle extends. I’m on the hunt for a jar large enough (height and width). Seeing your photos made me all the more determined, so thanks!!.

  • Gael
    September 21, 2010 1:50am

    Choosing between Irish butter and Breton butter is like choosing a favorite between your kids.

  • September 21, 2010 3:37am


    that is all :)


  • Kristine in Santa Barbara
    September 21, 2010 4:48am

    Loved this post and loved the pictures. I’ve made my own butter several times but am self taught off the internet. Leaves a lot of nuances to be learned on my own…or not at all. Would love to be in the same room with that woman! (Not to mention in the same country with the same high fat cream).

  • September 21, 2010 6:23am

    Homemade butter is so delightful. There’s something really magical about that moment where the butterfat separates from the buttermilk. You can do it with a stand mixer and if you’re so inclined, just don’t turn it up so high. I usually whip the cream first and then change to the paddle for the final churn.

  • September 21, 2010 6:24am

    What a sweet lady. The butter looks amazing-so rustic and real-I love that.

  • September 21, 2010 7:36am

    Ugh…. butter. I’m never going back to anything but butter. My mom used the fake stuff growing up and it is not the same at all.

    I’d rather buy bigger pants or sacrifice elsewhere than give up butter.

  • September 21, 2010 7:38am

    oh, and @Linda H – they do a butter cow in Iowa too. Always a butter cow sculpture, along with whatever else they feel like sculpting that year. Haha.

  • lee
    September 21, 2010 1:25pm

    I find that shortbread does taste better after a week or more. I try making it along with another type of cookie that is best eaten immediately.

    Last year we made butter a few times because my daughter wanted to try it. It is very good even just made with 30% fresh cream and a bit of salt and then served right away on warm baked goods. Having five in the house really makes it go quickly.

    I’ve read that how long homemade butter keeps is largely a factor of how clean you had everything to start with coupled with how thoroughly you press the water out of the butter. I have never put my homemade butter to the test as it is gone within the hour after making.

  • September 21, 2010 3:18pm

    I remember making butter as a kid. We would fill a glass jar and shake. I think my mom had us do it just to get us out of her hair for a good 30 minutes as we shook the jar away. That or perhaps it was an exercise routine: the old fashioned shake weight.

    Now, where can I find me a butter paddle or two?

  • abby
    September 21, 2010 6:20pm

    My stomach growled so loudly from reading this post, I’m surprised you couldn’t hear it all the way across the ocean.

  • September 21, 2010 7:46pm

    David, I love your great travel posts this summer! Butter is obviously good for the health too, if that lady is anything to go by – she glows with health.

  • September 21, 2010 7:52pm

    one more reason to head to Ireland :)

  • Anna
    September 21, 2010 10:31pm

    You were in Cork? Please, please tell me you went to O’Connaill’s chocolate shop and had one of their hot chocolates (I’m partial to the blend of milk, dark and white chocolate with praline)…it’s happiness for only €3.25. Or any of their delicious chocolate bars or baked goods!

    Although, erm, just in response to an earlier comment…we’re not undeveloped here. We just like our countryside! Americans just don’t get us sometimes… ;)

    Hope you had a lovely time!

  • September 24, 2010 3:21am

    Very cool post! Thank you. We’ve made butter a couple of times with an old Dazey churn and it is really good, and we enjoyed the buttermilk. Two questions if you don’t mind:
    1. Can you use buttermilk from making butter just like you do the cultured buttermilk you can buy at the store in recipes and get the same puffy results? I guess I could just try and see what happens but I do so love buttermilk biscuits and would hate to have a failure if someone knows the answer. :)

    2. Any idea what kind of cows they got the cream from? Or maybe that wasn’t important to the process? That question is a little out there but I figured it’s worth asking :) Thanks!

  • September 24, 2010 3:19pm

    It’s amazing to see a process so simple, yet hard. I don’t think I could ever live without butter and so I think I need to do it justice to try to make my own one of these days!

  • September 25, 2010 6:10pm

    OH, wow, gorgeous! I’ve made butter before, but never from really good, premium cream. I want to try it soon.

  • September 29, 2010 9:48am

    I’ve just added a new place to my travel list (or “move to” list…). That looks amazing. :)

  • October 3, 2010 10:40pm

    those little squares on the beaten butter are pretty cute. nonetheless, I’d love to crush them down with a butter knife… on a nice piece of irish soda bread ! no pity !! :D.

  • October 17, 2010 6:59pm

    I would love to try the butter! Looks so good :D

  • January 12, 2011 12:07am

    Lovely post David, I’ve included it as a hyperlink in my new Irish food blog – I’m posting tonight re the general usefulness of butter wrappers if you wanna stop by for a read.

    Aoife C