Ah, butter. Butter is that simple yet savory ingredient that most recipes call for. Traditional butter has now expanded to unsalted butter, garlic butter, and whey butter. Butter is quite prevalent in most of our diets, but have you ever wondered how it's made? Here is a behind the scenes look into how Foothills Creamery makes their butter – from pasteurization, all the way to your kitchen table.
Firstly, cream is received in a tanker, which can hold up to 28,000 litres of cream. The cream is then run through what is called an HTST (high temperature short time) for pasteurizing. Like the title suggests, the cream is heated at a high temperature of 181 degrees Fahrenheit and held for the short time of 34 seconds. The cream then comes out extremely hot and goes through the plate exchanger, in which one side has warm cream and one side has cool cream. Finally, the cream is cooled to a refrigerated temperature using ice water and is ready for the silo.
The cream is pumped into the silo, where it is stored for approximately four to six hours. The silo is insulated so that even though its container extends outside the plant, the exterior temperature won’t affect the cream.
The cream must be stored here before churning because it holds latent heat. If they began churning right after the HTST process, the butter would either be very sticky or wouldn’t break at all.
Usually by the next day, the butter maker will pump the cream into the butter churn. (Fun fact: one of the two churns in our plant is the original churn that our president, Don Bayrack, bought from Swift & Company back in 1969!)
Next, the butter maker fills the churn about half way, which holds approximately 1600-1800 kilograms of cream. While churning, the fat is separated, and then the buttermilk is drained for resale or ice cream production. The cream is then rinsed down to drain any excess buttermilk. It is continually worked and then salt is added for flavour. For salted butter, 1.6% of the mixture is salt and 17.8% is moisture. Here at Foothills Creamery, we also make ‘Lightly Salted’ and ‘Unsalted Butter.’ The entire churning process takes about 50 minutes before the fresh butter is transferred into the butter tray.
From the butter tray, it goes into the butter boat. The butter boat has augers that push the butter towards the centre into a pump. The butter is then sent to wherever it needs to go: the butter patty machine, print machine, cup machine, etc.
From there onward, the butter is packaged and distributed.