Beurre Ikimuri is a traditionally produced butter made by women in Rwanda. It is made in a calabash (a type of gourd) covered with banana leaves. Three-day-old milk is mixed with water and stirred until the butter starts to separate from the liquid. This process is called gucunda. The liquid is poured into wooden bowls called inkongoro, while butter goes into larger bowls called umumuna. The remaining skimmed milk (called amacunda) is given to young children and women; according to local folklore, if men drink the milk, they could damage their virility. This butter is traditionally prepared with milk from the local Inyambo cattle breed. This breed is also known in nearby Uganda by the name of Ankole. The particular strain of Inyambo most often used in making beurre ikimuri is the large horned Watusi strain. These cattle are well adapted to the local climactic conditions, and can go long periods without eating or drinking. They produce nutritious, high quality milk. Traditionally, this breed has always been considered sacred, and was very rarely used for meat production. Today, the traditional production method for this butter has practically disappeared, and survives just in the Umutara region, near the border with Uganda. It is mostly made for family consumption. Because traditional livestock breeds and practices are declining, related traditions like beurre ikimuri butter making are also at risk of extinction. The traditional preparation, in fact, is considered outlawed, though those that make it say that it has a vastly superior flavor and other properties when compared to industrial butter.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.