Whey Butter

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >
Whey Butter

Whey butter (also sold as whey cream butter, farmhouse butter, ‘after’ butter and traditional butter) is a by-product of cheese making. It is produced when cream is separated out from the whey. Unlike ordinary British butter, which is produced using fresh milk, the butterfat within whey butter undergoes the initial processes of cheese making. Specific dairymen skills are required in order to produce whey butter, and, although the techniques involved can vary between regions, stages of production include: adding starter and rennet and allowing the milk to curdle, draining the whey, separating the whey, collecting the cream, churning, salting and packaging. It is a firm product that is oilier and less shiny than regular butter. Whey butter varies in color depending on the type of cheese being produced. The taste has been described as slightly cheesy and acidic, ‘nutty’ and sweet (though it can also be salty if salt is added). Considered healthier than other types of butter due to having a lower fat content, whey butter is also versatile in the kitchen and can be used for cooking, baking or even simply as a topping. Production of whey butter is traditionally associated with the South West and North West of England, in particular the counties of Somerset, Devon and Lancashire. Today, there are also some producers on the Isle of Man. Whey butter production in Somerset is well recognized, and a butter class held in Devon illustrates these areas’ long interest and skill in this product. In the past, whey butter was used to grease Lancashire cheeses before clothing, and the butter is also noted as ‘best butter’ within Lancashire folk tradition. Although most cheese manufacturers have the facilities to separate cream from the whey, only a few transform this into butter. In the past, the reputation of English butter suffered as a result of foreign butter imports falsely claiming to be English, and due to factories producing butter on a large scale using pasteurized and imported milk. Although whey butter is available on the consumer market (directly from creameries, in grocery stores and online), and, in some cases is produced by larger companies, the history and skill behind production is relatively unknown. Producers of whey butter are rare due to the production methods being time consuming, labor intensive and requiring specific skills that are only known by a limited number of dairymen. These features are associated with creameries that take a hands-on approach to cheese and butter production. However, the majority of butters available on the consumer market use fresh milk, favor industrial production methods and are foreign imports. Whey butter products in the UK have limited availability and, therefore, limited awareness among consumers.Photo: Booths 

Back to the archive >


StateUnited Kingdom

England - Nord Ovest

England - Sud Ovest

Production area:Somerset, Devon and Lanchashire

Other info


Milk and milk products

Nominated by:Genevieve Fernandes