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exact origins of Rum Butter are shrouded in mystery. No-one knows who
invented this true Cumbrian delicacy but it first appeared in local
larders in the late 18th century. Brought into Whitehaven, Workington and
Maryport by merchant ships from the West Indies, rum quickly became an
integral ingredient of the West Cumbrian diet.
Romantic legends about its origins abound. One tale describes how a
drunken sailor, staggering on board ship, crashed into a barrel of rum
which leaked into a butter churn, flavouring its golden contents.
Another story is even more incredible! One misty morning pirates unloaded
an illicit horde of rum, butter and sugar onto the West Cumbrian shore.
When spotted by customs' officers they fled into a cave - later cut off
by the tide - and survived on a sweet paste of rum, butter and sugar.
tale relates how a Cumbrian farmer's wife's keg of smuggled rum leaked
onto precious larder stores of butter and sugar. Fanciful or not, the
stories - and Rum Butter itself - grew in popularity and the creamy
concoction gradually became a mainstay of the humblest stone pantry.
Rum Butter's irresistible taste - heightened when sweetened with dark
Muscavado sugar and nutmeg - quickly crossed the great English class
divide and into the fashionable country houses of the Lake District. By
the time Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837 Rum Butter (also
known as "hard sauce") was integral to every christening feast and a
bowl of Rum Butter was passed around the visitors. The new mother received
a portion to hasten her recovery and it was even given to the baby to
bestow good characteristics: butter for goodness, rum for spirit, sugar
for sweetness and nutmeg for spice! Its head was also washed with rum -
hence the saying "wetting the baby's head".
Lakeland families still own their own Rum Butter bowls and there is a
fascinating collection of Rum Butter dishes, plates and bowls dating from
the mid-19th century in the Beacon at Whitehaven Harbour.
Cumbria's romantic love affair with Rum Butter continues at the Grasmere
Gingerbread Shop where it is made fresh everyday. It is delicious on
toast, oatcakes, crackers, scones and bread, as an accompaniment to mince
pies and Christmas pudding, or warmed on ice cream, popcorn or even on
Sarah Nelson's Grasmere Gingerbread! Our Rum Butter keeps for up to six
months and is best kept in a cool pantry or larder but not a refrigerator
otherwise the sugar will crystallise.
Rum Butter is available mail order - why not try some today! BUY
|Gretna Food Hall, Gretna Green.
|| Tel: 01461 338601
| Holker Food Hall, Grange over Sands.
|| Tel: 015395 58328
| Lowes Court Gallery,
|| Tel: 01946 820693
| Made in Cumbria Shop, Kendal.
||Tel: 01539 735891
| Richardson & Sons, Whitehaven.
|| Tel: 01946 65334
| Westmorland Services Ltd - Rheged & Tebay Northbound
& Southbound Services
|| Tel. 015396 24511
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