Bridget Culliney shows off her butter-making efforts from a butter churning class at Hobba's cafe in Prahran. Photo: Wayne Taylor
There's a whole lot of shaking going on at Prahran cafe Hobba, where about 20 food-lovers are being taught how to turn cream into rich, tangy butter using nothing more complicated than a lidded jar and a marble.
Among them is Prahran businesswoman Bridget Culliney, 33, who joined the class because it sounded like fun. ''I eat out heaps but I've never been anywhere for a meal or for drinks where someone said, 'I made my own butter', so I thought that sounded cool and interesting and a bit of a talking point.''
Ms Culliney is part of a do-it-yourself movement that's spreading. Along with renewed interest in old-fashioned skills such as preserving, fermenting and smoking, a growing number of people are giving butter-making a go.
Third-generation dairy farmer Rachael Peterken, of Inglenook Dairy has noticed a steady increase in calls about cream from intending butter-makers.
''It's pretty hard to get real butter,'' says Ms Peterken, whose family opened their own dairy at Dunnstown, near Ballarat, two years ago when the price they were receiving for their milk fell.
''We often get inquiries about whether we make it, but at this stage we don't. I know a lot of people who use a Mixmaster [an electric beater] to make it themselves. It sprays buttermilk all over the place but they know what's in it - no preservatives or anything else.''
At the Butter Factory in Myrtleford, butter-making classes have been booked out for six months, says owner Naomi Ingleton. ''We're just about to open bookings for February onwards.'' Held on the third Saturday of every month, the four-hour class teaches participants how to make complex, tangy cultured or European-style butter by introducing live cultures to pure cream.
Butter-making has become a weekly ritual for Sydney fashion photographer Sam Hendel, 30, since he learnt to make it a year ago. Friends who have sampled his butter have started showing up with cream so he can make some for them, too.
''It's got a distinctively creamy taste and you can really control exactly how salty you have it and the kind of salt you put in - like French butter, you can put chunks of salt in, which is really cool and looks really nice.''
Using a Thermomix (a high-powered food processor that also cooks) and organic cream he buys at farmers markets, the process takes about half an hour.
Lara administrative officer Rhonda McInnes recently took up butter-making after completing a workshop at the Butter Factory in Myrtleford.
She has swapped her electric mixer for the 75-year-old wooden butter churn she found at an antiques shop. '' I wanted the whole experience of what it would have been like years ago, just for a bit of authenticity.''