Saturday, 28 April 2012

Travel: Sweden: Butter Viking

In their little red house in the woods, where bobcats and ferrets roam through oak trees, wild flowers and sorrel, Patrik and Zandra make butter for the best restaurants in the world.
Owls hoot and their little boy puzzles the mysteries of mermaids while Patrik churns butter: the 'virgin' kind he sells to Noma, it is airy, acidic with a high percentage of buttermilk (40%).
The cream will be left to ripen for two or three days, allowing aroma and flavour to develop.
Salt is added
The yellower the butter, the less buttermilk. This is the other kind of butter that Patrik makes.

There used to be 6000 small dairies in Sweden before dairy giant Arla bought them all in the 60s.
Sweden was the biggest exporter of butter in the 1800s. Nowadays most butter and cheese is industrially made, whereas before Sweden used to have several types of hard cheese.

"The Swedish taught the French how to make butter." said Patrik as we watched his son squeeze his feet into a mermaid tail that he'd fashioned from bubble wrap. Patrik was inspired by his grandmother who was a cook for a rich family and churned her own butter.

It takes 20 minutes to churn in this butter churn imported from India. Supermarket butter takes 3 seconds and is done in 'canons'. Smor buttery has been going for 4 years. Patrik and Zandra have won awards for their butter.
Potential mermaids.
Vidar and the mermaids.
Patrik has made 'Bog butter' with Ben Reade, a food scientist who works with Noma restaurant: they fashioned containers out of birch and buried it in a grave, a kind of Gravad smor... He will exhume it this summer, then in one year, in five years, in 30 years.


  1. Love this post, and the little boys with his mermaids...

  2. Gorgeous piece. just wish I could taste the butter.

  3. That butter looks delicious. Love the pics too. :-)

  4. dude, you are famous in china right now.
    look at this post:

  5. Congratulations on making the Guild of Food Writers blog of the year shortlist!!! Thoroughly deserved - and I am of course madly jealous...

  6. Anon: I've heard that I'm famous in China! I'm looking at the stats, which are through the roof.
    I hope one day I can come to China.

    Liz: thanks very much.

  7. Nice article, thanks for the information.


I would love to hear what you think of this post! I try to reply to every comment (if there is a delay, I am probably away from an internet connection or abroad)