Petaluma Creamery – Spring Hill Farms’ cultured 100% sweet cream butter
- rworange Feb 12, 2007 11:46 AM
Ice cream & butter (not eaten together) brought me to Petaluma Creamery, the retail shop for Spring Hill Cheese.
All dairy products are made from Jersey cow milk. The shop sells all of Spring Hill’s products plus some selected products from local Petaluma businesses.
There is a lot of sampling and they are not stingy about it. A meal could be had here from samples of the cheese, quark, etc. Both the lemon and the garlic quarks (quark?) I tried were delicious.
There are three flavors of ice cream: vanilla chocolate and a flavor of the month (mocha chip on my visit)
I liked the simplicity of the chocolate. Nothing fancy … it is chocolate ice cream classic … how it should taste.
The vanilla was sold out. Ice cream with chips doesn’t appeal to me, so skipped that. Two dollars bought a good-sized, satisfying cup. Cones are available.
As noted in the link to Melanie’s post, there are root beer floats and milk shakes. I didn’t notice the sandwiches, salads or snacks mentioned. Either it was the wrong time of the year or the wrong day of the week (Friday, IIRC).
Other local products I sampled or bought
- Great … GREAT … smoky hot chipotle-tequila dipping sauce from Sartain's.
- Pleasant lavender honey from Lavender Bee Farm. There were other products including bags of edible lavender. The farm has tours which sounds like fun.
- Petaluma Coffee & Tea Company Blues Breaker coffee, a mild coffee which to me had a cinnamon note to it.
A butter-tasting post by Ruth on the General Board mentioned a butter that had a cheesy taste to it.
I understood what that meant with one bite of Spring Hill Farms butter. The website says they “add a cheddar culture and let it sit for 3 days.” That explains the taste.
They also mention the butter doesn’t burn … VERY true. As usual, I was distracted and the melting butter didn’t burn as usual. This butter gets a permanent spot in my freezer just for that.
This is a rich dense butter that is almost, but not quite waxy. The cream is very noticeable.
I like it better for cooking. It is great on popcorn especially sprinkled with grated cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches or mixed with rice and grated cheese.
Butter is now $7.99 lb.
My favorite butter for spreading on toast is from Vella Cheese which is butter classic to me. It has a perfect sweet clean taste. It is salty but that just brings out the best from the butter.
I like both butters. Spring Hill sells cheese and quark at the Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.
The shop is closed when Spring Hill opens the pumpkin patch … a really nice pumpkin patch too ... where they will sell an excellent pumpkin ice cream. If enough people ask for it, there’s a chance that the Creamery will sell the pumpkin ice cream in the fall.
Petaluma Creamery & Farm Store @ Spring Hill Dairy
711 Western Ave.
Petaluma, CA 94953
As noted in the above link, the farm is seven miles away from the creamery.
Interesting about the butter, as the one I had been buying from Spring Hill is salted and has a 6+ month expiration dating, whereas the cultered butter on the website is unsalted. The first time that we visited the farm, we learned that the butter was a by-product (and priced accordingly, lucky for us) of the cheesemaking process. The Jersey milk is too high in butterfat for some of the cheese styles so some of the fat is removed to make butter to balance the content of the milk.
When you melt it, does it look like clarified butter with little milk solids? I'm trying to figure out why it doesn't burn.
When I visited the farm late last summer, Earl (who was running the tasting room) said the butter was cultured and twice clarified. At that time they had both salted and unsalted on offer but I just bought the unsalted. Wonderful stuff. Spring Hill butter + Della Fattoria bread = danger zone.
re: miss louella
They might have both. When I asked if they had butter, the woman at the counter said they just got a big shipment in and someone a little earlier walked in and bought them out. Somehow that person ... who was getting some evil thoughts from me ... missed this one last log which was the sweet unsalted cultured version. Yeah, I can see a good loaf of bread with that butter.
Will have to look for the salted version now.
That high butterfat in Jersey milk is really evident in this butter.
Ok, you know who you are dealing with cooking-wise ... so here's the best I can do ...
The website says they work the butter back and forth by hand to remove excess moisture. Also it is unsalted ... don't know if either of those matters in terms of burning.
In the interest of accuracy, I just made buttered popcorn ... some with Vella and some with Spring Hill.
At the point both were totally melted, they pretty much looked the same ... but the Spring Hill looked creamier. When Vella started to burn ... well ... I know that excercise ... I buttered the corn.
The Spring HIll melted quicker and it sort of turns clearer the longer it goes.
That's what I wanted to check on ... the butter I forgot about the first time was really clear with little spots of solids here & there.
After pouring the butter on the corn, I fried an egg with the buttered pan. By now I'm bored with 'cooking' ... hey I actually stood over the pans for ... what 2-3 minutes total ... so I stop paying attention and the egg white is starting to turn a toasty brown by time I get back
Aha, I think. It does burn eventually. Nope, it was the egg white that was turning brown and crispy, not the butter.
Also, it does have a distinct cheese taste when fresh, but is not noticble when melted or used in food.
The site says it is so good that you can eat it by the teapspoon full.
I have to say the taste shocked me and was a little off-putting when I first bought it. I thought, "I don't think so".
I just found myself picking at the little bits that splintered off the frozen log. It sort of grows on you. I tastes almost like the unsalted Freindship cottage cheese ... only solid ... real solid.
I COULD do more research with more popcorn should you have more questions.
I believe it is Spring Hill that produces cheese curd, too, if you want to try your hand at making poutine. (You could steal some brown gravy from Ruth Lafler's Egg Fu Yong delivery.)
At the Berkeley Farmers Market today a pound of their salted butter was only $5! And I had a big taste. Delicious, not too salty and not terribly cheesy, just fresh fresh fresh. Then again, their Teleme Jack is practically butter...
Just one reality check; based on the raves I bought a chunk at ferry plaza and found that it is and isn't "all that". Specifically it is yummy (haven't tried the scorch test),and it is $5,but it is not a pound. It didn't feel like a pound and when I asked the lovely vendor she said it was ""over a half a pound".9.5 oz. to be exact.
re: little big al
Yes, but it is from local Jersey cows (so to speak) happily muching on grass in the fields ... pretty farm if you are ever in Petaluma.
How much is Strauss? I think it is comparable price-wise. The other thing is that it is so rich that I wind up using less because it is too much for me otherwise.
They sell at the Montclair farmers market and have both salted and unsalted. I bought a salted version and it is just lightly salted so there isn't much of a difference in taste.
Also cleared up the descrepancy in price for me. The sweet isn't more expensive than the salted. It is just at the creamery I bought the larger one pound log for $8.50.
That being said, Vella Cheese still sells the best eating butter in the Bay Area, IMO.
I like Spring Hill next but more for cooking due to the scorch factor ... though it was mighty fine on one of Esthers German Bakery rolls.
Then Strauss ... but I've never been overly crazy about Strauss even when they were the only game in town. It is fresh, but ... I don't know.
I wonder if those Jersey cows complain about the lack of good red sauce Italian in the Bay Area.