Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bitter Butter

Betty Botter bought some butter, but she said "this butter's bitter! But a bit
of better butter will but make my butter better" So she bought some better
butter, better than the bitter butter, and it made her butter better so 'twas
better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter!

It's amazing how many nursery rhymes are derived from the agrarian experience.  Yet much of our understanding of them, has been lost or eclipsed by our now-industrial/information culture.  Who remembers what a serious problem it was when the cow "kicked the bucket;" but compassionate souls took pity on the careless dairy maid and told her not to "cry over spilt milk"; especially when the cow (along with the cat and the fiddle) "jumped over the moon?"

Pulling the wool over one's eyes, a wolf in sheep's clothing...this was everyday LIFE.  Today' the sayings are but most. 

Many of the rhymes were also political satire, based on what happened in the barnyard, the pig pen (huffing and puffing to blow the pig's house down....)(we had a pig house fall down this past fall.  The pigs undermined it  completely until its light structure collapsed and the pigs wound up wearing their house!) 

The agrarian way of life was LIFE ITSELF when these nursery rhymes were conceived.  They were a means of communicating sensitive information or accusations, when people still understood what they meant--the hidden meanings and agendas of the age--based on agriculture.  

When I was a child, and tried to wrap my tongue around the "bitter butter" tongue twister, I always wondered about "bitter butter."  Why, I asked myself, would butter EVER be bitter?  Well, the answer, my friends, is that when you make butter "from scratch" you must "pat it out."  Yes, that means actually patting it and squishing it to remove the "butterMILK" because if the "milk" (whey) is NOT removed, the butter will guessed it:  BITTER!

So, the process of making butter involves getting your hands (or a tool) right into it and schmushing the lovely yellow mass until cold water run over it, is no longer "milky" but instead, runs clear.  Any dairy maid "worth her salt" would be able to tell you that!


  1. Elora -- Your butter looks wonderful and tasty. I remember farm butter from when I was young. Do you make it on a regular basis so you have it year round. If that is a silly question, it's because I am farm illiterate. -- barbara

  2. Betty Botter's Batter occurs in a 'big book' (giant books that we use for whole class teaching) that I used each year with my 7 year olds and they always enjoyed reading and learning that tongue twister.Your butter looks delicious though my eyes (not my stomach)would really be after the cream. Do you make clotted cream which is our local preferred version? I think you have to scald the cream somewhere in the process.

  3. Hey, Everyone!

    I seem to be having a bit of difficulty making comments back on my (own) blog. Don't know if this will go through or not....but need to check it out before writing a lengthy comment that doesn't!!

  4. Amazing! Blogger fixed my predicament overnight and it's a miracle! Thank you, Blogger! Went right on through! Happy Day!