Something really special to do on a family holiday at the Unterschwarzachhof is making butter up on the Alm. Once the guests have met together at the hotel reception, and the children are already excited about going up to the Alm, Jacky takes the group on the Zwölferkogel lift, or by hotel bus, or on foot to the organic farm up on the mountain.
A delicious Salzburg Alpine Summer
Once up on the Alm, we meet at the dairy next to the organic farm, and quench our thirst with elderflower cordial with refreshing mint leaves. The wonderful smell of freshly baked farm bread drifts over from the wood-burning oven; a smell that can scarcely be resisted. The children race straight over to the chicken house with Jacky to fetch the fresh eggs. Toni Hasenauer is a passionate organic farmer and shows the guests through the barn, explaining things about agriculture and about what running an Alm entails, as well as an anecdote or two about the farm and the history of the Unterschwarzach estate. This is somewhere many children (and not only children) experience hands-on milking for the first time. After a brief training session, anyone who wants to have a go at milking a cow themselves is welcome to try their hand.
Up on the Alm, the Pinzgau dairy cows eat fresh Alpine herbs throughout the summer, and in winter they eat fragrant hay from the Glemmtal mountain pastures. It is the special herbs that give the organic milk its aroma and colour, and that applies to the butter too. This milk contains the best of the Salzburg Alpine pastures. You can really taste it not only in the milk, but also in the Alm butter and cheese: spicy dairy “Sennkäse” or fresh “Almkäse”, made up here on the Alm.
From fresh organic milk to Alm butter
The best way to enjoy fresh organic milk is straight from a cow, when it is still “cow-warm”, and it’s even better if you have milked the cow yourself. But if you want to make butter from it, you have to leave it a while so that the cream (fat) separates from the milk. The cream is then skimmed off and put into a butter churn that Jacky agitates and shakes as long as it takes until the butter starts to coagulate into small lumps, and the liquid separates from the solid. Incidentally, the liquid is healthy buttermilk.
Now the butter solids are put into a sieve and Jacky presses the rest of the buttermilk out using a wooden spoon, or the butter is kneaded carefully to make the buttermilk run out of it. The ready butter is now put into handcarved, wooden butter moulds, which give it its lovely form and appropriate pattern. The guests like to help with this, choosing which moulds to put the fresh Alm butter in. In order for the butter to become firm, it is then put into the fridge for several hours.
Tasteful delights on the Alm
All the fresh air and goings-on in the dairy work up an appetite, so it is high time the delicious Alm butter is tested. It tastes best on crisp, freshly baked farm bread with one of Toni’s freshly cut home-made Alpine cheeses; delicious Alpine pleasure.
Everyone walks back down into the valley to the hotel with a contented smile on their face. Those wanting to take it easy hop onto the hotel bus. One thing is clear to everyone: such delicious Alpine butter can’t be found on the supermarket shelves. You can only get it from Jacky up on the Alm on a summer holiday at the Unterschwarzachhof, hand-churned and prepared with lots of love.