“During the 2016 successful Year Of Food and Drink in Northern Ireland I was inspired by the enthusiasm and drive of local producers taking great local produce to home and overseas markets. That inspiration motivated me to launch ‘a new taste of Ireland’ which is Irish Black Butter. Over some years I had been aware of black butter and how it was said to date from medieval times. It is an old traditional recipe which has been in use here on the island of Ireland. A combination of bygone days spent in the serenity of the Garry Bog near Ballymoney cutting turf, enjoying homemade scones and pancakes with apple jelly were some of the seeds of inspiration for Alastair’s new venture – Irish Black Butter.
“I remember many a time going out and picking apples, damsons and gooseberrys for homemade jams and pies. Good times and happy family memories of days gone by.” Of course it was a working farm with cows and sheep and pigs as well. There were also the regular crops of barley, potatoes and turnips. The big Shire horses were away before my time but the bridles and saddles were still there in the old stables – a dusty echo of a past powerful presence traversing the land.
Based at Portrush in County Antrim, Alastair teamed up with multi award winning chef Paul Clarke, the managing director of the En Place Foods at Cookstown in County Tyrone to create the perfect recipe for the very first Irish Black Butter product.
“In essence we took something very old and traditional and brought it into the twenty first century.” Using Euro PGI status Armagh Bramley Apples gives Irish Black Butter a core steeped in locality, quality and provenance. The Armagh Bramley has a rich heritage dating back hundreds of years and Armagh has long been recognised as the ‘orchard county’ of Ireland.
Influenced by the many exciting developments during the successful 2016 Year of Food and Drink in Northern Ireland, Alastair approached Paul Clarke at En Place Foods for advice on how to develop this apple based product which he had in mind. Paul was tremendously supportive and helped to perfect the ingredients and recipe for the butter. The ensuing Irish Black Butter has a delicious flavour, a rich warm aroma with a firm texture. The Butter which is dark and rich can be used in a variety of ways. It makes an ideal accompaniment for cheese and cold meats, for use as a glaze on ham, a spread on toast, soda farls or with scones and cream. Drawing together sweet and savoury this is truly a versatile product and ‘a new taste of Ireland.’
Paul Clarke, who has won a series of UK Great Taste and Blas na hEireann Awards for innovative products including jams and sauces has said. “It’s great to see another original product developed using Armagh Bramley Apples, which have EU PGI status. Irish Black Butter is an outstandingly tasty and balanced product with nice acidity.”
Since launch in late 2017 Irish Black Butter has won the Business Eye / First Trust Bank ‘Start-Up Business of the Year 2018 and Chef’s Choice Award in The Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards 2018.
Irish Black Butter is available in 225g and 115g retail jars with larger tubs available for food service.
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