Bog butter

“Bog butter” refers to an ancient waxy substance found buried in peat bogs, particularly in the United Kingdom and in Ireland. Likely an old method of making and preserving butter, some tested lumps of bog butter were made of dairy products while others were meat-based.

It is thought to be the remains of food once buried in the bog to preserve it. As peat is cool and contains very little oxygen, it can be used as a primitive kind of fridge. The question remained what type of food was buried in the peat. Local lore sometimes says that the waxy stuff is literally the remains of butter. Also dead animals could be the source for the waxy material, however. Corpses often contain adipocere, a substance also known as ‘grave-wax’. Therefore, bog butter could also be the remains of carcasses rather than dairy products.

In order to find out, the fatty acids in bog butter were analysed. The hydrocarbon chains in the fatty acids derived from dairy products tend to be shorter than when derived from animal fat. There are also differences in the relative amounts of 12C and 13C. Artificial bog butters, made in the 1970s from mutton fat and butter mixed with soil and water respectively, were analysed on differences. Furthermore, nine samples of bog butter from the National Museum of Scotland, some of which are 2000 years old, were analysed. Conclusion: Six of the museum bog butter samples come from dairy products, and three are from animal fat. It seems that ancient Scots clearly used the peat to store both types of food, they say.

Read more here and here.

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So what’s this blog about?

Another attempt? Well yes. Attempting to figure out another sustainable model (there are some other attempts going on parallel-ly). Well, we have a lot of questions in mind. we read up stuff, we do some research to find answers to these questions. This is an attempt to publish that little 15-20 minute research.
November 2009
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