Thanks to hygiene regulations and the dominance of industrial dairies, it is now almost impossible find high-quality butter made from raw milk in Switzerland. Even though butter is one of the staples of the local cuisine, the Swiss eat more and more industrial butter, which lacks fragrance and intensity and is not suited to raw consumption.
The main problem is that these butters are produced using separated cream, cream that rises to the surface of the milk as it sits. This practice is common in all the dairies that make cheese from semi-skimmed milk, of which there are many in Switzerland. This allows for high-volume production, but the finished butter does not have the same characteristics as butter made from centrifuged cream, when the cream is obtained directly from the centrifugation of fresh whole milk. This is the technique used in the Presidium dairies.
One of the dairies produces butter from soured cream and their own lactic cultures. Souring the cream using "homemade" cultures is very rare and requires a long process and great care and skill. The dairy’s butter-makers have been passing down the secrets of the technique for decades.
The preparation of the cultures is the most delicate and fascinating part of the whole process. A liter of fresh raw whole milk is filtered and heated to 26-27°C (79-81°F), then put in an incubator for around 36 hours. The culture is then refrigerated overnight. The next morning one spoonful of the culture is used to inoculate a liter of fresh milk which is then put in the incubator for at least eight hours at 26°C (79°F). This process is repeated four or five times, until the culture is ready to be used for butter production. One liter of culture is added to 40 liters of raw cream centrifuged at 31°C (88°F). The mixture is left at room temperature for 24 hours and then put in cells at 3-4°C (37-39°F) for aging (two to four days) until it reaches the required acidity. Once the pH is correct, the cream is left at room temperature for two days so that the bacteria can slowly return to life. Finally, the butter is processed in the normal way.
The project brings together two dairies in northwestern Switzerland who use centrifuged cream to make high-quality butter. Their butter expresses all the scents and flavors of the northern Swiss pastures. It is made from organic and biodynamic milk from small-scale local farmers, processed into butter at least once a week, hand-kneaded and pressed into traditional wooden molds. The quality of the milk and its raw processing give it a slightly sour fragrance and a lingering flavor.
Wernetshausen, Zürcher Oberland; Ganterschwil, St. Gallen canton
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tel. +41 43 8431220