Life as a butter maker
Will Abernethy, butter maker, Abernethy Butter, tells NI Business Now what an average day in his life is like.
6am – My first job every day is to walk to the end of our lane and collect two 40 litre churns of pasteurised cream. They are dropped off in the morning by Draynes Farms, a dairy farm about eight miles away.
7am – My wife and I always have breakfast together, Shredded Wheat with warm milk. We have a granny flat next door that we have had converted into space for making, storing and packaging butter so I can get started on my work for the day as soon as we are finished.
8am – To make butter the first step is to fill a butter churn with cream. Our cream is 40% butter fat. You could use milk but it would take longer to make due to the smaller butter fat content. We have different sized churns. To make a kilo of butter, I use a five litre alloy one from the 1940’s, with a handle at the side. I pour in two litres of cream that has been kept at room temperature. I turn the handle, which turns a paddle inside and this will make the cream separate into buttermilk and butter fat. These will curdle and then stick together. I pour away the buttermilk, put the butter into a stainless steel bowl and mash it under cold water with wooden pats to remove all traces of buttermilk.
1pm – We always take a break during the morning to enjoy some wheaten bread with butter and a cup of tea. At lunch we stop again for a ham salad sandwich.
2pm – Once the butter is rinsed, I mix in the salt. We only add a teaspoon of salt to every pound. I then break off a dollop at a time, weigh it to 125g and flatten it into a rectangle on one of the pats. With the other I roll it into a Swiss roll shape, place on greaseproof paper and put into the fridge for half an hour. Allison wraps and labels them with our traditional style paper. She is responsible for managing the orders, couriers and all the administration.
4pm – I generally finish work around 4pm and get settled before we eat at 6pm.
8pm – After tea I see to the sheep. We have about 100 on our farm. Until last year I worked at local farms, but now I am able to make butter every day because we are so busy. We have even had orders from the Fat Duck and Fortnum & Mason. This has made me feel that anything is possible.
To find out more about Abernethy Butter follow @ButterMakerWill or @AbernethyButter on Twitter. You can also visit the website: