Although our crew loves making our tried and true cheese such as Ragged Point and Cabrillo, they also enjoy the "slower" times of year when they have time to get creative and experiment inside the creamery.
The week between the Christmas and New Years holidays, our crew decided to revisit an old friend and do a test batch of cultured butter.
A brief backstory...
Ryan, our director of operations, is very passionate about cheese and butter. So passionate that he makes his own at home. Inspired after a trip in the 90's to Brittany, France, Ryan started making butter at home and soon after joining us at Stepladder decided to make a few test batches in the creamery.
"French butter is some of the best in the world, especially that from Brittany," said Ryan. "It's a pretty rural area; I went to some traditional farms and learned from people who have been using recipes passed down from generations in the family. It's also a seaside community with some of the most delicious seafood dishes including fresh mussels in a garlic, butter sauce that was just utterly divine! I got a taste for French butter and was inspired to find a way to bring it to Stepladder."
(Pictured above is Ryan (far right) and crew helping instal brewery equipment in Brittany, France. This was the purpose of his visit back in 1999, but he ended up gaining his passion for French butter.)
We made a very small batch of butter, by hand, a few years back. Everyone on staff loved the butter; it was a true labor of love, but just became too time intensive for our small team, especially during busy times including milking and kidding season on the farm.
We thought it was a one-time thing until now...
Making European-style cultured butter
The purchase of a state-of-the-art stainless steel churn in 2021 would help us be able to make butter a product worth bringing back, and hopefully for the foreseeable future.
The main intention for the new churn is to help speed up the process of making our cow's milk fromage blanc cheeses, but it's powerful enough to churn butter, something we made a few years ago and made a lasting impact on our customers.
"We made a small batch of hand-churned butter a few years ago, and we're still hearing from people today asking when we are making more," said Jack Rudolph, Stepladder Creamery owner. "Our butter is salted and creamy with a sour-cream like base. It's a product we wanted to bring back, but didn't want our crew to hate us since it's such a labor-intensive product to make. The new churn helps speed up the process and keeps our crew happy."
Our butter, like our cheeses, is still made the old fashioned way, but the churn helps speed up parts of the process. We slow culture cream for a week which turns it into beautiful crème fraiche, or sour cream. We then churn it in small batches, work out the buttermilk, and salt it. We form it into 6 oz balls and wrap by hand.
Where can I buy it?
A small supply of cultured butter is now available at farmer's markets throughout California as well as our online store. We always want to sell the freshest products possible, so we're waiting to see how the market reacts before increasing supply.
So, please, give our butter a try; leave a comment below and let us know how you like it! Happy eating!