Bog Butter Beckons Taste Adventurers
For people with adventurous minds and tastebuds, Irish bog butter aged for millenia in swamp peat is probably going to sound very tempting an item to add on to one's bucket list...
So-called « bog butter » is real butter, still smelling of butter after 2000 years as in the latest case of its discovery. It is edible and some have taken a bite out of it, like Irish celebrity chef Kevin Thornton who owns a Michelin-starred restaurant in Dublin,
"I was really excited about it. We tasted it. There's fermentation but it's not fermentation because it's gone way beyond that. Then you get this taste coming down or right up through your nose."
His morsel of bog butter was 4000 years old.
Given the interesting organoleptic properties of bog butter, some, like Ben Reade, head of culinary research and development at Nordic Food Lab, wish to resurrect the practice and study the range of flavors it can develop, just like for aged cheese. To start with, a 3-month old piece of bog butter yielded the following olfactory notes,
« In its time underground the butter did not go rancid, as one would expect butter of the same quality to do in a fridge over the same time. The organoleptic qualities of this product were too many surprising, causing disgust in some and enjoyment in others. The fat absorbs a considerable amount of flavor from its surroundings, gaining flavor notes which were described primarily as "animal" or "gamey," "moss," "funky," "pungent," and "salami." These characteristics are certainly far-flung from the creamy acidity of a freshly made cultured butter, but have been found useful in the kitchen especially with strong and pungent dishes, in a similar manner to aged ghee. »
Such an interest for an archaic preservation technique allied with local geography, comes in the midst of a nascent movement seeking new aging methods and a redefining of terroir for wines, which can now be seen to be aged in the sea to gain novel yet authentic flavors.