The name black butter can be misleading as Black Butter has no dairy ingredients and every effort is made to ensure it does not turn black. The butter part in the name is really a guide to its consistency and the fact you can spread it on bread but equally it can be used as a topping for a desert or cheese dish.
Women Peeling Apples for Black Butter
The making of black butter is a traditional community event in Jersey and was a regarded as a place for young women and men to meet and flirt under whilst producing a preserve for use during the winter.
The Jersey women would gather and peel hundreds of pounds of apples and the men and children would gather the wood to keep a large fire going for almost two days.
Traditional Jersey cooking range.
The fire is usually lit in the afternoon and the cooking goes on all night and well into the next day. Today, there are only about four groups who still continue to make black butter.
Boil the cider until it turns to jelly. Add peeled and sliced apples, stirring all the time to prevent sticking with a traditional long-handled utensil called a ‘rabot’ (long-handled for a good reason the cooking mixture can spit very hot apple) Two hours after the last batch of apples has been stirred in, add the sugar, liquorice and lemons. In the last ten minutes of cooking add the spice then store in jars.
Stirrers eye veiw of the Bachin
This very old and traditional farm-house recipe uses much larger than standard domestic quantities a typical pan for the preparation of black butter (a big copper-bottomed or brass affair known locally as a bachin) being over three feet in diameter.
Making Black Butter
Black Butter is important not only as a uniquely Jersey gastronomic tradition, but also as part of the now declining rural culture of the Island.
In the production of Black Butter the mixture has to be continuously stirred with a wooden ‘rabot’ or paddle to stop it burning and turning black. The boiling of the cider and apples can last for days with constant stirring going on all night this popular community event involves traditional singing, dancing, storytelling and chatting going on into the early hours of the morning with traditional cider to help it all go smoothyl.
Story telling while making Black Butter
There is a traditional method of testing if the Black Butter is ready. If a spoonfull dropped onto a plate when cooled allows a wooden spoon pressed into it to lift the plate the Black Butter is ready.
There is a black butter Trust Event which continues to grow each year where you can participate in the making of Black Butter by peeling apples and stirring the Bachin.
Apple Harvesting in Jersey
Jersey Black Butter can be purchased at La Mare Wine Estate and other Real Jersey produce retailers.