Buttermaking in Wisconsin; Gene Editing to Treat Blindness; Wisconsin’s Lost Coastal Communities

Hi WN@TL Fans,

When the Babcock Dairy Store rolled out its new logo earlier this year, the press release announcing the occasion noted that the logo included icons of three signature dairy products:  cheese, ice cream, and milk.  For current-day accuracy, it’s spot on:  these are key items from the store.  But from the point of view of the origin story of Wisconsin as the Dairy State, I noted that butter did not make the icon grade.

The irony is that Stephen Babcock’s butterfat test of 1890 is among the earliest pivotal inventions from the University of Wisconsin.  The fact it’s called ‘butterfat’ rather than ‘milkfat’ underscores the leading role that butter played in the first several decades of dairy in Wisconsin.  Today we think mostly of cheese, but even as late as 1909 butter was the more valuable product overall in Wisconsin.

With the new addition to Babcock Hall, including new facilities for the Center for Dairy Research, comes expanded opportunities for speeding the renaissance in buttermaking in Wisconsin.  I look forward to the possibilities of churnage butters joining vintage wines and artisanal cheeses as ways of celebrating the “terroir” that Wisconsin’s seasons & soils endow to the tastes to be enjoyed from our varied dairies.

On July 26 Gina Mode and Ben Ullerup Mathers of the Center for Dairy Research will share their insights on the historic sagas and current technologies of Buttermaking in Wisconsin.

Description:  Please join Gina Mode and Ben Ullerup Mathers, Wisconsin licensed buttermakers from UW-Madison’s Center for Dairy Research, for an evening of everything butter. Churn the pages of butter’s long and storied history and uncover Irish bog butter and fascinating lore plus the unique history of buttermaking in Wisconsin, the dairy state. This will include some only-in-Wisconsin topics such as the Oleo Margarine War, the prohibition against serving margarine at public eating places as a substitute for butter, and the requirement that all butter for retail sale in Wisconsin be graded. Discover butter’s place in Wisconsin’s $43.4 billion dollar dairy sector and the significant contributions of the UW to Wisconsin’s dairy industry. Delve into what butter is, how it is made, some of the different types, and how to store it to keep it at its delicious peak. Bring your appetite for butter knowledge!

Bio:  Gina Mode, Assistant Coordinator, Cheese Industry & Applications  Gina’s love of the dairy industry began when she was raised on a fifth generation family dairy farm outside Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.  Gina has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Food Science, Master of Business Administration Degree, and holds Wisconsin Butter Grader, Buttermaker, Cheese Grader, and Cheesemaker Licenses.  As a member of the Cheese Industry and Applications Group at the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Center for Dairy Research, she works closely with butter and cheese brokers, ingredient suppliers, and manufacturers – from farmstead to commercial.  Gina is involved with everything from butter and cheese trials and troubleshooting to short course instruction and outreach efforts.  She particularly enjoys working with buttermakers and cheesemakers to develop new specialty products.  Gina has served as a technical judge for a variety of county, state, national, and international cheese contests.

 Bio:  Ben Ullerup Mathers, Research Cheesemaker  Previously a software developer, Ben’s growing interest in fermentation and food production led him to accept a 3-month position at Uplands Cheese doing affinage for Rush Creek Reserve in the Fall of 2019. Finding a love for the art, science, and culture of cheesemaking, Ben then worked for the winter at Cedar Grove Cheese before returning to Uplands for the 2020 cheesemaking season. There, Ben became involved in all parts of the cheesemaking process, from vat to packaging, and received his cheesemaking license. Ben is thrilled that his thirst for more cheese knowledge and experience has brought him to the Center for Dairy Research, where he sees knowledge and passion working together to advance the industry.

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