Production, Cooking & Variations


Milk was a very varied substance and was often turned into sour milk drinks, curds, soft and hard cheeses, as well as good old fashioned country butter.

Butter making was seen as both an art and a necessity for many years, and to some extent, it still is. Many houses kept a few cows and it normally fell on the woman of the house to make the butter. This process took a couple of days between skimming, churning and shaping. The butter was then used by the family and the rest was used as a source of barter for other requisites in local shops.

Cooking Methods

Dairy products make up a large proportion of our diet in Ireland and are used for much of our daily requirements. Fish, and shellfish in particular, is best when it is simply cooked and/or served with butter. Much of the baked and steamed puddings, common in the past, were predominantly made up of milk, butter and cream - ingredients which were readily available to the farmer and which created rich milk puddings to satisfy a hungry family.

Regional variations

Butter making is fast becoming an extinct art in rural Ireland due to a number of factors, most noticeably the increasingly stringent food safety regulations. Producers are no longer allowed to make the butter using unpasteurized milk and a way of life, preferred by previous generations, is becoming obsolete.

Cheese is, of course, another very popular industry today. In the early part of the 20th century, cheese-making was generally confined to large-scale factory production, with a few exceptions. During the 1970s, there was a surge in interest in cheese-making among dairy farmers and the industry began to grow. Today, there are a large number of very high quality cheese makers, making delicious cheese for retail purposes in supermarkets and on the farmers’ market circuit.

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