Butter History Lesson and Quick Summer Herb Butter Recipe

Butter has had a history that has claimed superstar status through the ages. Records of use date back to 2000 years before Christ. It was believed to be formulated by accident by nomads. In ancient times, it was utilized as commerce and was exchanged for wine, dried fish, and was used heavily in Northern European Countries. Butter was also found buried in Ireland buried in the bogs. The websitewww.webexibits.org/butter states in an issue of the New York Produce Review and American Creamery, December 4, 1907 tells of a traveler in central Africa in 1872 being offered butter encased in leaves and covered with a layer of cow dung which when dry kept air from the butter. Food Historians report in the early days of South Water Market in Chicago, butter was transported in open wagons covered with grass freshly cut while still wet with dew.

Chef Monique Hooker, a prominent French Chef from Brittany who leads culinary tours to France and other exotic locals has some fascinating stories about the history of Butter. The Bretons have been selling butter to the rest of France since the 1500’s. Famous for their butter, Chef Hooker was plunged in the butter culture since childhood.

“In cultures around the world butter is regarded as a gift from and food of the gods. Tibetans make it part of their bride dowry. They also burn butter candles, and decorate with mounds of butter” Chef Hooker says.

As a youngster growing up in Brittany, Chef Hooker notes that butter was the king of the table. “We Bretons say of ourselves that the milk of human kindness is churned into butter.” “Breton butter’s reputation has endured since the middle ages.”

“The secret to the famous butter from Brittany is the Pie Noirs cows, who give the milk for the gloriously yellow Breton butter. Those pastures remind me of the countryside where I know live in southwestern Wisconsin” Hooker declares.

Chef reminisces that when she was a child at least weekly, butter was made on her farm. Churning the butter was a duty by Monique and her younger brother and sister. “We made this simple but laborious and time consuming task easier by making a game out of it. We devised a counting system of how many turns each one of us had to take, so the churning was split evenly. We looked though the little glass window on top of the butter churn to see which one of us got the curd to turn into a mass.”

“Decorating mounds of butter was an art since all the butter for the table was decorated. Tools such as butter molds and butter stamps were sometimes used, but all the children had to learn the art of decorating butter using both ends of different sized spoons. A weekly offering of butter was also made and offered to the church as payment, which was then sold to the wealthy in town. It was a way for the money to stay in the church.”

Fast forward to today and butter is still a culinary star. With the popularity of artisan food producers, celebrity chef’s such as Thomas Keller, seeks out butter from Vermont from a cow named Lulu for his famous restaurants. A farm made butter can make a great dish even better. Sometimes compared to great olive oil, butter can add a silky smooth feel to sauces and add taste that is out of this world.

Here is a recipe for a quick summer herb butter-

Quick Summer Herb Butter

1 pound softened unsalted  good quality local butter

3 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped small as you can cut them

2 Tablespoons fresh dill, chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme, chopped

1 Tablespoon dry lavender, crushed

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Teaspoon course sea salt

When butter is soft, mix all ingredients together and place on a piece of plastic wrap. Roll into a log and freeze. Anytime you need some butter, just cut off what you need and freeze the rest.

Easy peasy,  and you will love the flavor on steamed carrots.. YUM



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2 Responses to Butter History Lesson and Quick Summer Herb Butter Recipe

  1. Laurie Franks says:

    Arlene- I just read your recipe for crawfish casserole. Where can you find crawfish up here? P.S. this butter looks GREAT- can’t wait to make some!

    • Arlene Coco says:

      I have sometimes found it at Cub Foods in Duluth and have heard that the Walmart in Superior, WI also carries it. I would call first., If not Fabians shrimp truck has it every spring, you can see the schedule for Duluth at Fabianseafood.com

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