Rural – Jersey Country Life Magazine


Black Butter Making with the National Trust for Jersey, Thursday 5, Friday 6 and Saturday 7 October

Peelers, Stirrers and Fillers required….

The National Trust for Jersey will once again be making ‘Black Butter’ at The Elms, La Chève Rue, St. Mary with cider apples from its orchards this week sponsored by Rathbones.

Volunteers are invited to embrace the community spirit and participate in the ancient art of ‘Black Butter’ making. Apple peeling commences from 2pm to 5pm on Thursday 5th October and participants will be rewarded with tea and Jersey Wonders for their efforts. There is no need to pre-book or bring anything unless volunteers have a favourite apple peeler and all ages are welcome.

The fire in the bake house will be lit at 5am in the morning on Friday 6October and the peeled apples will start to be added to a giant copper bâchin kindly loaned to the Trust by Sam Pallot from Pallot’s Steam Museum. Apple peeling will resume at 10am.

Friday evening is always a lively affair with a supper, once again provided by Pink Panda Private Catering, attendees can enjoy live music as they peel over 1000 lbs. of apples.  The music and food hopefully encouraging and entertaining the hardy peelers and stirrers late into the evening!

Stirring of this wonderful aromatic mixture takes place all through the day and night until the early hours of Saturday morning. Towards the end of the cooking, spices, liquorice, and lemons are added and by lunchtime the ‘jarring up’ production line is in full swing with the freshly made Black Butter ladled into sterilised jars, which are then wiped, labelled, lids applied and topped with pretty fabric covers. All undertaken by a wonderful army of volunteers.

On Saturday the usually sleepy courtyard at The Elms will be transformed and filled with stalls selling a host of ‘Genuine Jersey’ produce including cider and sausages and wood fired pizza. The National Trust will also have a stall selling tea, coffee and cakes.

Other products for sale include locally produced honey (some from the hives in the orchard at The Elms), relishes and jams, art, wooden products, candles and of course the delicious, dark, and fragrant freshly made Black Butter, often referred to as ‘Christmas in a jar’.

Parish 13 and the Black Butter band will be performing together with dancing and other live performances throughout the day.

Parking is available at Granite Products with a shuttle service to and from the site throughout the day.

Apple Preserves Competition

This is the third year that Rathbones has supported the Black Butter festival including the ‘apple preserves competition’. Its UK parent having been a sponsor of the world famous Dalemain Marmalade Festival at Dalemain Estate in Penrith in Cumbria for some years.

To emulate this preserving event and adding to the usual hive of activity in and around Lé Nièr Beurre the apple preserves, and baking competition is taking place to see who can make the best apple jams, jellies, pies and cakes. The competition is open to all ages and features children’s categories and a children’s biscuit making and decorating competition…

For more information and to complete an application form please go to   or call the Trust office on 483193 during working hours. Any entries need to be delivered by Thursday at 12 noon.

About Black Butter

Between 1600 and 1700, twenty percent of Jersey’s arable land was made up of orchards and cider was produced by farmers to give to their staff, making up part of their wages.

The Island’s export trade in apples peaked in 1810 when 4.5 million litres left the island. A great tradition that existed as a result of Jersey’s proliferation of apples at the time was the production of ‘black butter’ or ‘Lé Nièr Beurre’.

Made from cider apples, the new cider was boiled over a fire for many hours – up to two days – and when ‘reduced’ by half, apples, sugar, lemon, liquorice and spices were added. The mixture was continuously stirred with a wooden ‘râbot’ or paddle.

Production of the ‘butter’ was a very popular community event following each winter crop with traditional singing, dancing, storytelling and chatting going on into the early hours of the morning. Although not in any way as commonplace or as frequent an event as in the past, black butter evenings still take place in the Island on one or two farms.  The tradition also exists further afield; in Pennsylvania USA, early immigrants took the custom with them but renamed it ‘Apple Butter’.



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