It turns out that milk, like wine, has a terroir. ‘The bacteria in the field where the cow is grazing also adds into what I culture,’ Harrington explains. Culturing is the process, used in traditional butter making, of partially souring or fermenting of cream before it’s churned. Harrington takes cream from local Jersey cows, known for the fattiness of their milk, and adds a specific bacteria to it to culture it. ‘Just like you add different bacteria to milk to make different cheeses, I researched the best bacteria to make the butteriest butter,’ he says. The flavour we recognise as ‘buttery’ is diacetyl, so Harrington found a bacteria that makes as much of this compound as possible. After adding it, he leaves the cream to ferment for 160 hours to produce really intense flavours, then churns it into butter.
I’m not the only convert. He makes 110 kilos of butter a week by hand for restaurants like Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, Claude Bosi’s Bibendum and Sat Bains, plus delis and markets. He reckons the perfect ratio of bread to butter should be one to one, but I reach for another unadulterated spoonful. Frankly, when butter is this buttery, there’s really no need for bread.
Written by Johanna Derry; Photographs by Juan Trujillo Andrades.
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