Gary Johnson, Singletons Dairy
You can’t have whey cream butter without traditional cheesemaking. This firm, sweet, luxurious toast-topper is made from cream separated from the whey left over after cheese is made. It’s a labour-intensive process, and the magic can’t happen in the systems used by larger, less hands-on dairies, so producers are rare. Whey cream buttermaking is also a skill known to only a few dairymen: at our supplier Grandma Singletons, there have been just five people who have made butter in the past 30 years. It lives on in Lancashire folk memory as “best butter”, but by its very nature, it’s a little-known, limited-edition treat.
What’s the story?
Gary Johnson, who has done every job going at the Singletons dairy near Longridge since he joined 21 years ago, knows how to make whey cream butter. But that doesn’t mean he’s about to dive into the butter room and start pounding. “I wouldn’t want to. We have to keep it quite cold in there,” he shivers. He is, however, immensely proud of this sweet butter and the way it’s made, using milk from the Trough of Bowland. “We’ve been making whey cream butter for 60 years,” he says. “Some people standardise milk before they make cheese by taking the cream off it. We take the cream off after cheese production and use it to make butter because the lactic acid gives it that sweet, different flavour. It’s had all the exciting, friendly bacteria added during cheesemaking. It’s a traditional butter-making process and our ability to make it comes from being able to make cheese in a traditional way.”
The colour of the butter can change depending on what kind of cheese has been made that day, but Gary describes the flavour as consistent and smooth, and slightly creamier and more salty than its ordinary cousin. “I love it dripping on toast,” he says, “but sometimes we can’t make enough because we can only make as much butter as we have cream from the cheesemaking.” But if Singletons can make it, we will have it. “I like the fact it’s in Booths,” says Gary, “We’re traditional hands-on cheesemakers with passion and pride, so we want to be in shops where they have pride about the products they sell.”