Any self-respecting vintage addict has either already got or has fantasised about owning a pair of pleasing little wooden butter paddles. Ridged on one side and smooth on the other, they were used to shape butter in dairies during the 19th Century and are easy to find at any antiques fair for around £10 to £15 a pair, if you keep your eyes peeled.
Butter making might be a distant dream these days (or a nightmare, perhaps), but contemporary domestic goddesses have found various alternative uses for their vintage wooden paddles. Food writer Silvana de Soissons finds that they’re ‘…useful for rolling potato gnocchi’, while Mary Berry caused a stir last year when she admitted she sometimes used to slap her children with a butter paddle when they were naughty!
I always pack a few for summer picnics because they make excellent mini chopping boards for cheese or chorizo. The rest of the time, they hang on a piece of old twine in the kitchen, looking very lovely indeed. This is easy, thanks to the tiny nail holes most paddles have in their handles.
My eBay ‘watch’ list is currently filled with vintage wooden butter pat moulds – ornate little stamps for pressing pretty patterns such as swans or flowers into butter before serving – so perhaps that’s a future ‘obsession’…?!
You can learn how to make butter using old fashioned methods today on specialist dairy courses (Hagley Bridge Farm in Somerset runs one) or, if you’re inspired but prefer fuss-free dairy products, you can make your own butter at home easily using a modern gadget such as the nifty ‘Chef’n Butter Maker’ from Lakeland; simply fill it with double cream, leave it for 8 hours, shake, then rinse with water to create your very own homemade pat. The best way to serve it in style? On an antique wooden butter paddle, of course…