Abernethy Butter is one of the great recent success stories of Northern Ireland’s artisan food revival.
Since turning their hand-churned butter making hobby into a business in 2005, and initially selling at markets, Will and Allison Abernethy’s delicious and handsomely presented products are now on sale at some very prestigious shops indeed (including Fortnum and Mason, in London) and they have the distinction of being offered at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Restaurant in Berkshire and Marcus Wareing in Knightsbridge, as well as many of the best tables in Ireland including our Restaurant of the Year, James Street South in Belfast. (Full list: http://abernethybuttercompany.com/taste/)
Will and Allison’s company at Dromara, Co Down, was the first in Northern Ireland to produce hand made butter and, while it is the result of a lot of hard work and skill, it is a beautifully simple product, containing nothing but fresh cream and salt - except the speciality dulse and smoked butters, which are naturally flavoured. The cream is supplied by the pasture-grazing cows of a local farmer in the Lagan valley, who pasteurises his own milk.
The cream is churned in the traditional way to separate the butter from the buttermilk, rinsed by hand to remove any remaining buttermilk, lightly salted and then patted into shape by hand. Simple as it is, there is great interest in this process, which was until recently a part of everyday life on every farm, and the Abernethys are available to do demonstrations at shows or other events (a small fee is charged).
Their beautiful creamy butter is also beautifully packaged, in rustic greaseproof and brown paper - and you will spot their distinctive little blue and white greaseproof disc on butter dishes in good restaurants around the province, and in specialist outlets throughout Ireland and the UK.
In addition to the butter (which has a shelf life of 12 weeks and can be frozen if required), Will and Allison use their butter to make their delicious Abernethy Butter Fudge and Brandy Butter, a seasonal product that keeps for six months. The butters, fudge and the newer Sea Salted Caramel (made with their butter by En Place Foods in Cookstown, Co Tyrone) are also available online, along with butter dishes and traditional butter pats.
Wonderful foods, made with heart and soul - the Arbernethy products have gained well earned recognition at the Great Taste Awards and are a real credit to the region.