Page images

monly imagined. Still, however, we are disposed to believe that certain pastures are more favourable to the production of good butter than others. Certain plants, such as turnip, wild garlic, hemlock, roughleaved dandelion, charlock and May-weed, are known to effect the milk with a disagreeable flavour; and there may be others which to a certain degree impair its goodness, though their effects are by no means so evident.

Far more, however, depends on good management, than on this circumstance, or even on the species of the cow we feed; for that something likewise, is owing to this, is equally well ascertained. Cows have been found whose milk could not be brought to yield any butter at all. It has long been remarked, that the butter in the highlands of Scotland, when properly made, possesses a peculiarly rich and delicate flavour; and this has been almost universally attributed to the old grass on which the cows feed in these remote glens. But what more common error than to mistake a concomitant circumstance for a cause. Dr. Anderson, by his experiments on milk, has shown that the excellence of the highland butter may be very reasonably ascribed to a quite different cause. He has proved that the cream of a given measure of milk constantly increases in quantity, and still more in quality, from the first drawn teacupful, to the last drop that can be squeezed from the udder at the time. From twelve to twenty hours in summer, and about twice as long in winter, should be permitted to elapse before the milk is skimmed after it has been put into the milk-pans. If on applying the tip of the finger to the surface nothing adheres to it, the cream should be properly taken off; and during the hot summer months this should be done always in the morning, before the dairy be

comes warm

The cream should then be deposited in a deep pan, placed in the coolest part of the dairy, or in a cool cellar, where free air is admitted. In hot weather, churning should never be less frequent than twice a week.

This work should be performed in the coolest time of the day, and in the coolest part of the house, where there is a free draught of air. Cold water should be applied to the churn, first by filling it with this some time before the cream is poured in, and then by immersing it in water to the depth of a foot or so during the operation, provided we use the pumpchurn; or by applying wet cloths to it if we use a barrel-churn. Such means are generally necessary to prevent the too rapid acidification of the cream, and formation of the butter. The winter season, and cold weather, of course require an opposite practice, but we can hardly be too cautious in the application of heat; for the common practices of wrapping the churn in a warm cloth, plunging it into hot water, adding warm milk to the cream, or placing the churn near the fire, all tend to injure the butter. The best way, perhaps, is to heat the churn by filling it with boiling water before the cream is put in, and to place it in the warmest part of the house, but not close to the fire.

The operation of churning ought to be moderate, equable, and unremitting; for if we stop or relax in our exertions the butter will go bad, as it is called ; and if the motion be too quick and violent, the butter will imbibe a very disagreeable flavour. This, in some districts of Scotland, is known by the phrase“ bursting the churn.” The processes for making butter have been various in different ages, and among different nations.

The operation of churning is well known; and we have only to observe, that though churns have been constructed of different forms, they may all be reduced to two, the vertical and horizontal. The vertical, or pump-churn, as it is usually named, was probably the first thought of, and is nothing more than a tall wooden vessel, three or four feet high, narrow in proportion to its height, and straighter above than below, having a sort of piston or staff adapted to it, with a perforated head, by moving which up and down with the hands the cream is agitated, and the butter is at length formed. The utensil is sufficiently well adapted to the operation of making butter on a small scale, where the cream to be churned is the produce of a few cows only; but where dairying is managed on the great scale, and the quantity of cream large, the operation performed in this way is too tedious and laborious for general use, and methods have been contrived to expedite the process and abridge the labour. This is best done by means of the horizontal, commonly called the barrel-churn, which is a cylindrical vessel, close at both ends, and firmly fixed upon a stand, having a sort of rack or trundle adapted to it within, usually with four blades, and turned by a winch, or handle, placed on its axle, passing through the ends of the churn. By this machine as much cream may be churned in an hour, as could be done in ten or twelve by the common upright churn.


When the operation is properly conducted, the butter after some time suddenly forms, and is to be carefully

new cream.

collected and separated from the buttermilk. But in doing this, it is not sufficient merely to pass off the milk, or withdraw the butter from it, because a certain portion of the caseous and serous parts of the milk still remain in the interstices of the butter, and must be detached from it by washing if we would obtain it pure. In washing butter, some think it sufficient to press the mass gently between the hands; others press it strongly, and frequently repeating the washings till the water comes off quite clear. The first method is preferable when the butter is made daily for immediate use from new milk or cream, because the portions of such, adhering to it or mixed with it, contribute to produce the sweet agreeable flavour which distinguishes

But when our object is to prepare butter for keeping, we cannot repeat the washings too often, since the presence of a small quantity of milk in it will, in less than twelve hours after churning, cause it sensibly to lose its good qualities.

The process of washing butter is usually nothing more than throwing it into an earthen vessel of clear cool water, working it to and fro with the hands, and changing the water till it comes off clear. A much preferable method, however, and that which we believe is now always practised by those who best un. derstand the business, is to use two broad pieces of wood instead of the hands. This is to be preferred, not only on account of its apparently greater cleanliness, but also because it is of decided advantage to the quality of the butter, as the warmth of the hand always gives more or less of a greasy appearance ; and butter washed by means of the wooden flappers, as they are called, will always fetch at market a higher price than if the hand had been employed. The influence of the heat of the hand is greater than might

at first be imagined. It has always been remarked, that a person who has naturally a warm hand never makes good butter.


After washing the butter, it should be cut and sliced in every possible direction, with a serrated or roughedged knife, in order to bring out from it the smallest hair, bit of rag, strainer, or any thing that may have chanced to fall into it. It is then to be spread in a bowl, and such a quantity of salt added as may be judged proper.

If the butter is to be used immediately, or kept only for a short time, a small proportion will be sufficient; and in this state it is usually denominated fresh butter; but if it be intended to be long kept, or transported to a distance, an ounce or two of salt will be required to the pound of butter. The salt used in curing butter should be of the purest kind, well dried, and broken down, but not completely pulverised ; and it must be so thoroughly worked in, as to be equally incorporated with the mass.

When butter is to be sold on the spot, or in the neighbouring markets, it is divided into rolls of a pound or half a pound; or into lumps of twenty-four ounces, called dishes in some parts of England ; but when it is to be kept or carried to a distance, quantities of eighty-four, fifty-six, or twenty-eight pounds, are put up together in casks, usually called tubs, firkins, and half firkins. When the butter has been sufficiently impregnated with the salt by lying spread out in thin layers sprinkled with it, and thoroughly wrought, it is to be then gently pressed into the tub or

« PreviousContinue »