Thursday, October 08, 2009

Summer Butter

Ahhh ... Chicago. Home to a stellar food scene, great cheese shops, amazing shopping, and Barack Obama. How I used to adore you.

And then you had to go and steal all of my farmstead organic summer butter.

Damn you.

This week is the last chance Chicagoans (is that a word?) will have to buy Al Bekkum's amazing Summer Butter -- an organic, farmstead hand-churned, hand-packed golden butter Al's been making since August at Sassy Cow Creamery near Sun Prairie. Apparently summer is nearly over, and with it, the last of the summer butter is for sale. The truly sad part: I, like most Wisconsinites, never got any. (Stick lower lip out now).

I first learned about Al's Summer Butter through some Chicago blog writers, who were raving about an amazing Wisconsin farmstead butter being made by Nordic Creamery, who sold it in 12 oz tubs at the Green City Farmer's Market on Saturdays for $5.50.

Turns out that Al, one of Wisconsin's 43 licensed buttermakers, is indeed working with Sassy Cow Creamery (a farmstead milk bottling plant between Columbus and Sun Prairie) to produce specialty butters using Sassy Cow's organic cream and the plant's micro butter churn.

Every Thursday since August, Al has been trekking from his farm in Westby to Sassy Cow to make several batches of "Summer Butter," using fresh cream from the Baerwolf's organic, grass-fed cows. He churns between 50-60 pounds of butter at a time, and then hand packs it into 12 oz tubs while the next churn is working. He's been taking between 300-400 tubs of this golden treasure to the Chicago farmer's market every Saturday and selling out by noon.

While all this is good for Nordic Creamery, Sassy Cow and of course Chicago, meanwhile, I am Summer Butter-less. Fear not, however, Al assures me that because the season for Summer Butter is nearly over, he's going to start experimenting with a Cultured Butter, as well as a farmstead holiday butter for the Wisconsin markets. Next spring, he's even going to try making an organic whey cream butter, which I believe would be a first for the state.

"Customers are blown away by the taste of fresh butter - most people have never had a fresh butter before," Al says. "I make it on Thursday and take it to the market on Saturday. People are buying 20 cups at a pop. It's unbelievable."

"People are calling and emailing me every day asking where they can buy my butter in Wisconsin," he says. "Well, I just can't keep up with the demand right now, but I promise to have some butter in Wisconsin stores by Christmas."

I'm holding you to that promise, Al.

So, take note, Wisconsinites. Look for Nordic Creamery butter in specialty food stores by December. And if all else fails, head to the Green City Market in Chicago this Saturday. Better get there early.

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