The Price and Manufacture of Butter.
fFrotn the Aberdeen Free Press. ] When Wight, of Ormiston, the Scotch Arthur, Young, visited Muiresk, on Deveronsido, about a century ago, ho noted the excellence of the dairy management and the superior quality of the butter. The best proof of the former, ho remarks, was that the butter, even in the heat of summer, was sweet and firm. “ In general,” he writes, “I admire the quality and cleanness of the butler over all this country ; and yet the price is very low. They ought to salt the butter and send it to better markets.” The suggestion was acted upon, and north country butter long hold a first place in the home market, a place which it has since lost; and the fact was very explicitly dwelt upon at an agricultural meeting held some time ago at Turriff, in the very locality referred to by Mr Wight. The depreciation of value which the produce of the north has undergone represents a large sum annually, and it is worth inquiring whether it be possible to prevent it, and if so, how it is to be done.
Butter has a natural price. Tbe same quantity of food that will produce a pound of beef, will produce half a pound of butter. It follows that the price of butter ought to be double that of meat. Butter, indeed, is not the sole product of the food which produces it. It is associated with casein or cheesy matter, and the sugar of milk, which gives sweetness to whuy. But these are required to compensate the extra care and labor which the dairy requires. Wo find, accordingly, that at different times and places the average price of butter is rather more than double the price of meat. Caird, for instance, in his recent book on “ The Landed Interest and the Supply of Food,” states the price of meat and butter iu Englond, at different dates, thus :
1770. 1850. 1878. Price of meat per lb. 3j-d Os sd. Os Od Price of butter per lb. 5d Is Od Is 8d Inglis, the well-known traveller, in his tour through Switzerland about fifty years ago. was careful to note the prices of provisions at the different towns through which ho passed. The price of moat varied from 2ld to 3ld per lb., that of butter from 7d to Bd, falling only in a single case to 4ld. Wo have thus a simple test by which we can judge whether the price of butter is what it ought to be. if the price of butter be not about double that of beef there is something wrong. Now, in the north of Scotland, we may safely say that none of the butter fetches anything like this price, that, in fact, the pr.ee which the producer obtains for it approaches more closely to the price of meat th in to double that figure. In this part of Scotland the production of butter is not one of the chief ends, of agriculture, but our system of husbandry involves the keeping of a large number of milk-yielding animals, and it is, of course, desirable to turn their productive power to the beat possible account. The value of butter as an article of food depends on its flavor, and that, though differing naturally in different samples, is liable to still greater variation according to the amount of care which is bestowe I on its preparation, and particularly on the degree of cleanliness with which it is prepared. As long as only one price is paid lor butter, whatever may be its quality, as is usually the case in the country districts,' there. .«ld. be no hope that north country the place it once hold in ih|^p^ket.
“"There - Is good butter to be had, aiid it *ht to pay the producer and curer better a an inferior article ; but the dealer ■will not pay for it a price corresponding to its value, and when he gets it he mixes good and bad together, and brings down the former to the level of the latter. By bestowing proper care and attention on butter making and curing, the dealers and “ good wives” of Aberdeenshire alone might divide an additional £40.000 a year among them. To produce butter of good quality it is not necessary to have rich old pasture. Butter made in Suffolk on land little better than a sheep-walk, and not worth 10s per acre, fetches Is 6d per lb. in London, beating Danish and Normandy butter. Wight, in his account of the state of husbandry in Scotland a hundred years ago, states that the best butter he ever tasted was made at a roadside inn in Perthshire, where the cows had nothing to feed on but young heath and the short grass under it, and that the Marquis of Breadalbane preferred this butter to his own, though he had the best cows feeding on rich old pasture. It is the same with cheese. Mr Harding, a well-known English cheesemaker, who introduced the making of Cheddar cheese into Ayrshire, stated that whether it was made from old pasture, from forced Italian ryegrass, or from heather, the cheese was uniform . in texture, quality, and flavor; if there was any difference, he thought the best article was made from the heather. The highest priced butter in the world is made in the district of Isigny, in Normandy, in the north-west of France. It sells by auction in Paris during winter at 3s. ' per lb., wholesale, sometimes reaching 3s. sd. During the summer it falls to 2s. The care in the manufacture of this butter is something extraordinary, and much of the superiority of the quality is attributed to this : the hand never touches the butter, it is beaten up in cloths, the utensils are of marvellous cleanliness, and if a drop of milk or cream falls on the floor it is. immediately sluiced away. The cream is churned twice or three times a week in a barrel churn. While the churning is going on the chunier listens attentively so as to detect in an instant the slightest alterations in the sound of the churning cream. As soon as any alteration is thought to bo detected, a spigot which closes a hole through the bulg»g part of the churn is withdrawn, and the matter adhering to it is carefully examined. . If this is still cream, the churning is continued, but if there are on the spigot particles of butter, no larger even than a pin’s head, the churning proper is finished. The buttermilk is emptied out, the small particles of butter accompanying it being caught on a sieve and replaced in the churn, into which fresh spring water is also put until it is half full. Three or four turns are then given, and the mixture of water and buttermilk is again withdrawn as before. The process is repeated, often seven or eight times, until the water comes out of the chum as bright and clear as it went in. The butter is. thus thoroughly cleansed from the buttermilk, and con- , soli dated into one mass. When removed from the churn by large wooden spoons, it no more working than is stracient to press out the clear water from its-interstices. Mr, Jenkins, the_ secretary of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, to whom we are indebted for this description, states that a careful inquiry into the manner in which butter is made, in several districts of Normandy has convinced him that —other things being equal—the quality of the butter •depends upon the “■earlier or later period ai which the washing of the butter is eismunenced. ” This is so far recognised by some of the dairy farmers that they have their chums fitted with a glass window, to enable the eye to see and thus assist the ear to hear when the butter .begins first to be formed.
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 4, 4 October 1879
The Price and Manufacture of Butter. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 4, 4 October 1879
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