Yesterday we considered various ways of preserving bread, so today I thought we should look at methods of preserving its natural partner - butter.
I give you several thoughts on the subject, from a range of sources:
From the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, conducted by D. Brewster (1830.)
To preserve butter for a long time fresh without any foreign mixture, the best method perhaps is, first of all to wash the butter-milk completely, out, and then to keep the butter under pure cool water, frequently renewed. Some wrap it up in a wet linen cloth, to defend it from the influence of the air. But though fresh butter be kept cool and from the air, it will in no very long time become rancid. We cannot by any means keep it fresh from one year to another, or transport it to a distance in good condition. Rancid butter, to most people, is extremely disagreeable. A very small quantity of it will be observed by many in a large mass of meat, that it may have been employed to season. Few stomachs can digest rancid butter. Some are so delicate, that the use even of fresh butter, of milk, of cream, and in general of all oleaginous substances, affect them with difficult and painful digestion.
Butter, to be a wholesome aliment, must be free from rancidity, and not fried or burned. But even in its purest state, there are few who can indulge very freely in the use of this article with impunity; and health, perhaps, would not suffer, though its employment as food were altogether laid aside. Like the other bland oils, it is gently laxative.
Most housewifes know several receipts for restoring rancid butter to freshness. But of these the greater number are of little use. Washing it well with pure water, or with ardent spirit, still better perhaps with sweet milk, will deprive it in some measure of its disagreeable smell and taste. It is of much more consequence to preserve butter from becoming rancid,by salting, and the other means already explained.
From The Southern Agriculturist and Register of Rural Affairs (Charleston,1832)
The making process is now completed. To preserve the rich flavour which this process secures, pack the butter nicely down in a perfectly tight, sweet vessel, and none is better than a stone earthen-jar, without a particle of additional salt; smooth the surface, and cover the top two inches with a strong, cold brine, which has been made by boiling and skimming the materials. If a pellicle or scum is seen to rise upon the pickle, turn off the liquid and replace it by fresh pickle.
I am accustomed to eat butter, of May, June and October, made and preserved in this way, when it is from six to twelve months old, without perceiving any material difference between it and thut which is fresh made.
From U.S. Patent No. 98,421 granted to Jacob F. Saiger in 1869)
My invention relates to means for curing and preserving butter; and it consists in a novel arrangement and process whereby it is intended to cure and preserve butter from taint for a long period of time.
My arrangement and process are as follows,
To wit: I take fresh butter and mix with it thoroughly a small quantity of saltpeter and pure white sugar - say about three or four ounces of each to every hundred pounds of butter. I next place the butter thus mixed in firkins, tubs, crooks, or other suitable vessels and close such vessels air-tight. I then place the vessels in a barrel, box, or other suitable packing-case and cover them, respectively, to the depth of two inches, more or less, with common salt. I also inclose the outer case in salt to about the same depth and let the butter remain so packed until I am ready to use it. I place one or more of these butter-packages in each outer case, as circumstances may dictate or require.