• By Davoc
  • 14 November, 2008
  • Comments Off on Buttermaking
All through the centuries in Ireland the making of butter was an important industry.  In fact by the end of the 18th century butter was Ireland's largest export.  Even cattle, at this period, were judged not by beef but by milk production.  Besides the churn the old time farm would have a wide range of other wooden dairy utensils, some stave built others carved from the solid.  These would include, milking-piggins, cream-skimmers, strainers, ladles, butter-scoops, and prints, butter tubs and buttermilk butts. A shallow stave built keeler, or a turned bowl is kept for setting milk.  The solid and often shapely carved cups and methers (literally mead bowls) are already archaeological specimens. Every household made butter and all sorts of methods were used.  They say that if you were to put some cream into any sealed container, tie rope onto it and swing it for hours over your head, eventually it would turn into butter! Once the butter was formed and cleaned, butter pats were used to mould it into round shapes, butter balls or wedges, onto which an emblem could be printed with a special butter stamps - in Irish stampai ime. But by far the most charming were the wee butter prints or moulds.  These stamps came in a huge variety of styles and shapes, with different carvings - a sheaf of wheat, a swan, a cow beside a gate, an acorn, or maybe the Act of Union emblems of the thistle, shamrock and rose. Some of these prints were activated by the plunger, others were just pressed on the surface of the butter.  These were always made of sycamore as it was the only timber that would not put an odour on the butter.  It was also easy to scrub clean.
Categories: Buttermaking