Butter - But Not As We Know It

Butter – But Not As We Know It

Now and then something comes along  that is so different, unusual, even innovative that we are puzzled as to what it actually is.  One such recent puzzler has been Irish Black Butter – a butter – but not as we know it !

Launched in late 2017 by Portrush man Alastair Bell; this intriguing new food product has simultaneously created a myriad of questions and also offered new dimensions to the evolving local food scene. ” What is it and what can I do with it are the most popular questions I get asked”  commented Alastair, ” followed closely by where can I get it?”

Irish Black Butter is certainly intriguing with the ‘Irish’ suggesting local and familiar and ‘Black Butter’ indicating something decidedly different. “It isn’t a dairy product at all,” said Alastair. “In fact it sits within the wider family of apple butter found extensively in the USA, Canada and Western Europe. There the concept of a butter extends beyond a milk based product.”

Alastair went on to say how on speaking with Americans, Canadians, French and Dutch they quickly grasped the concept of a rich spicy apple butter, albeit one from the island of Ireland.

Black Butter is said to date back to Medieval times and has even been referred to in the eighteenth century by the novelist Jane Austen. “I have had people telling me about finding recipes for black butter in their grandmother’s old recipe books – so it has been about here,” said Alastair.

In 2017 Alastair went on an Alchemy Programme with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council to deliver a new childrens’ book entitled Jake The Tractor. However the pull of an idea that he had  long been mulling over lead Alastair to contact Paul Clarke; the multi award winning chef and MD of En Place Foods Ltd at Cookstown to develop a new product.  After a period of time Irish Black Butter was developed and launched in late 2017. Using Euro PGI Status Armagh Bramley Apples, Armagh Cider, Brandy and Spices; Irish Black Butter is a rich new product featuring locality, quality and a provenance steeped in the rich heritage of the Armagh Bramley Apple.

“What can you do with it is a great question,” said Alastair who went on to explain that Irish Black Butter is an exceedingly versatile food product with both savoury and sweet uses.  It is class with cheese, enriches cold meats and can be used to marinade or glaze meats.”People have been putting Irish Black Butter into porridge, stirring it in with beans, making gravies, using it as an ingredient in recipes, even having it with desserts including apple pie – there seem to be endless uses.”