Swapping Sweden for Isle of Wight

Butter science: Buttervikings on creating restaurant-quality butter

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

Buttervikings supply hand-crafted table butter to restaurants around Europe.
Buttervikings supply hand-crafted table butter to restaurants around Europe.

Related tags: Butter, Milk

Following a successful crowdfunding campaign, hand-crafted butter creators Buttervikings moved their operation from Sweden to the UK in October 2015.

Swedes Patrik Johansson (operations manager) and Maria Håkansson (manager), switched to the Isle of Wight on England’s south coast to create their traditional Scandinavian butters exclusively for restaurants.

Johansson told DairyReporter that while in Sweden they supplied butter on and off to some London restaurants, but wanted to capitalize on the greater number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK – and chose the Isle of Wight after tasting the local cream.

They have also supplied Restaurant Noma, in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the past six years, a restaurant Johansson says is the number one in the world and has been responsible for some of the positive publicity for the butter.  

Presentation on innovation

The company will be taking part in an entrepreneur session at the 10th​ Zenith Dairy Congress in London, UK, from June 27-29. The session also includes Oppo Ice Cream (UK), The Chaat Co (US), Buttervikings (UK) and a panel made up of representatives from FairLife (US), The Healthy Marketing Team (Sweden), and Zenith Springboard (UK).

At the Zenith Congress, Johansson says he will be talking about innovation, and how to find new products in the dairy industry, especially as it relates to butter and cultured cream.

Special butter for tables

The butter the company produces is for restaurant tables, as opposed to an ingredient.

“We make different types of butters to be used as table butter,”​ Johansson said.

“It's hand crafted. Industrial butters take seconds, ours takes three days. We culture the cream in order to get much more complex flavors, whereas industrial butters, they use artificial butter aromas to flavor their butters.”

While Buttervikings has been operating in the UK for under a year, they already have Claridge's as a customer, and several two and three star restaurants.

Running in the family

It’s something Johansson has a great deal of experience of. His grandparents owned a small dairy in the 1940s and 50s, and that’s where he learned the trade.

He is also, in a way, a butter scientist, saying that the culturing phase is difficult.

“You have to read hundreds of scientific papers in order to get it right,”​ he said.

“Most of the recipes on the internet are totally wrong.”

But while science is important, it’s not modern technology they use to deliver the products.

“We don't like to use high technology. We prefer to use low technology solutions to implement new scientific findings.”

Lactic acid bacteria

With Buttervikings, the butter includes lactic acid bacteria (LAB), which Johansson says is in the tiny droplets of the buttermilk dispersed in the fat phase of the butter.

Johansson said much depends on the strains of LAB.

“You can choose from thousands of them. And there are so many other variables in the manufacturing process. We control a lot of different parameters to get the right flavor.

“We focus on the acidity, and the other 150 taste components when you culture cream. A sweet cream butter is nice but it's flat in the flavor profile, but when you culture it, that's when you get the full flavor.”

Recreating the old days

Johansson said that in the old days, milk would differ from field to field, farm to farm.

“Nowadays, it's so sterile because we pasteurize the milk as well, so we add seven to nine different LAB, so we imitate the old days by controlling the type and the amount of LAB​.

“Some LAB really thrive together, and produce wonderful aromas,”​ Johansson said, “whereas others hate each other and you have disharmonious cream.”

Growth – to a point

Johansson admits that the business has to be small scale in order to get the production right.

He says that in the manufacturing process, it’s difficult to produce top notch butter at an industrial level, so expansion to meet a growing demand seems to be a non-starter.

“We can increase to a certain level, but then we'd have to say no,”​ he admits. 

Related topics: Markets, Butters & Spreads

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