What are my special features?
Whey Butter is a by-product of cheese making. It is produced when cream is separated out from the whey that is produced during the cheese making process. Unlike ordinary British butter which is produced using fresh milk, the butterfat within whey butter undergoes the initial processes of cheese making.
Specific dairyman skills are required in order to produce whey butter. Most cheese manufacturers have the facility to separate cream from the whey although only a few produce this into butter. Whey Butter is available in salted or unsalted forms. The term ‘Farmhouse Butter’ can be used to describe that which contains 100% whey butter. Whey butter can also be blended with sweet cream butter.
Whey butter has a firm texture and in comparison to fresh butter types is oilier and less shiny. Whey butter varies in colour depending on the type of cheese being produced. Taste qualities include that which is luxurious, slightly cheesy and acidic, ‘nutty’, sweet and can be salty if salt is added. Considered healthier than other types of butter due to having a lower fat content, whey butter is also versatile in the kitchen and can be used for cooking, baking or even simply as a topping.
What is my history?
Production of whey butter is mainly associated with the South West and North West of England, in particular the counties of Somerset, Devon and Lancashire. Whey butter production in Somerset is well recognised and a butter class held at the Devon show illustrates the area’s long interest and skill in butter production. In the past, whey butter was used to grease Lancashire cheeses before clothing and the butter is also noted as “best butter” within Lancashire folk tradition.
Why am I forgotten?
Producers of whey butter are rare due to production methods being time consuming, labour intensive and requiring specific skills that are only known by a limited number of dairymen. These features are associated with creameries that take a hands-on approach to cheese and butter production. However, the majority of butter available on the consumer market use fresh milk, favour industrial production methods and are of foreign imports.
Don’t lose me… cook me!