Bog Butter: The Mystery of Mum’s Fridge

Most followers of Boggart Blog will know by now that co-author fatsally and I share a mother. And you may have noticed some recent banter about the high security around our mum’s fridge. Now the sympathetic souls among you will probably have shaken your heads and muttered, “Insensitive little ingrates, don’t they know old people have to watch the pennies?” But there is more to it than that.

Last week as the team were dossing about the editorial office the BBC spotted a story coming in on the feeds about a new find of Bog Butter. The background said this mysterious substance, found packed in containers of animal hide or wood and hidden in peat bogs has turned up all over Scotland and Ireland. it has a waxy texture and analysis has shown it to be a mix of lard, tallow and dairy fat. Amazingly, though 2000 years old it is still edible.

“Archaeologists connect the mystery find with iron age culture and are hoping to find remains of a significant prehistoric settlement in the area,” Boggart Blog Cub concluded reading the report aloud.

Fatsally and I exchanged a knowing look and said in chorus, “iron age my arse, Mum’s been clearing her fridge out again.

You see our Dear Old Mum is now one of those people who has become more of a hoarder as she got older. Despite having Bohemians as parents she is of that mindset that cannot tolerate waste particularly of stuff that was once food. So while FS and I did benefit in some ways from this as children, for example leftover mashed potatoes were made into potato cakes and slathered with butter (delish) we were also required to eat some truly antique food. The Chinese delicacy One Hundred Year Old Eggs was nothing to us, we ate One Hundred Year Old Toast.

If we helped ourselves to an apple from the fruit bowl we would be told, “you should ask first, money does not grow on trees,” to which we would reply, no Mum, but apples do and these grew in our garden.

So bog butter is no mystery to us, having filled the fridge with leftovers she can’t bear to throw away, mum occasionally has to make room for extra stuff. And she blends her fats, packs them and drops them in a Scottish or Irish bog that the coach must pass while taking The Dancing Dowagers of Morecambe on one of their mini holidays. In this way she has handed on the substance to postertity and it is not wasted. In Mum’s young days there was never any spare money about, as she always reminds us when confronted with out extavagant ways. You rather get the feeling that Mum liked the idea of there being “no spare money about” as poverty did not prevent her Dad hurtling round the North West in a Bull-nosed Morris Oxford in the 1920s and 30s.

You see even now, in these affluent times, Mum is “careful. She never throws anything away, all things keep indefinitely in the freezer thus when she does shuffle off this mortal coil (which will be a good while if we can keep her from eating the stuff she has been saving,) we hope to find some valuable treasures in her fridge. The world’s oldest sausage, a hunk of bread left over from The Last Supper maybe or even one of the cakes burned by King Alfred. Any of those could put us in the dosh.

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11 thoughts on “Bog Butter: The Mystery of Mum’s Fridge

    • Being a dancing dowager is one thing, keeping prehistoric cheese in the fridge is quite another, and in a way almost as sinister as having a freezer full of dead heads in the garage!


    • If Mum could have bred millepedes big enough she would have made sure we all got a leg every week for the whole year. Sunday roasts provided meals for most of the week I recall. Cold roast & chips on Monday, Cottage Pie on Tuesday, Rissoles on Wednesday, Soup on Thursday. Friday was a relief because everybody, even non religious families ate fish on Friday.


  1. I’m concerned that this tendency may be hereditary, one of the other two brothers is a bugger for storing odd little bits of leftovers in the fridge.
    Also, while we were away BBC enjoyed eating cold beef stew for breakfast. Mind you the quantity he made would have fed a family of four twice so dispatching it in just two sittings was quite good going. He said it went down brill with a can of Stella.


    • The Boggart Blog Cub is showing signs of developing into a bohemian genius, let me know if he shows any tendency to start brewing Barley wine (family joke everyone) Or, even more boho, eating cold pizza (Gabby) or left over Indian takeaway (Bother Bastion) for brekkers.

      As you only speak to one of the “other brothers,” do I need three guesses?


  2. My in laws are similar. i cleared out a condiments cupboard for them once and there were sauces there 10 years out of date. In another way they are showing us the way to live in the future with their food recycling. It is the hoarders we will turn to when the lorries stop and we have nothing in our own ‘fridges.


    • Hmm, yes. With the postage stamp gardens of m,odern homes and councils selling off all the allotments to business park developers, self sufficiency in a non starter.

      We had some delicious pies from the blueberries in my garden this year, but the blueberry diet would get boring after a while.


  3. My late ma-in-law was also a dab hand with the bog butter. She had a jar that she kept topped up with fat, dripping from bacon and beef, no odds it all went in the same pot. Hubby said he couldn’t ever remember her starting a fresh pot or, heaven forbid, buying refined cooking fat in a shop.
    Her kitchen cupboards were like an Aladdin’s Cave, with some items so old they didn’t have sell bys on them. She stocked up every time there was a food crisis, sugar shortage, botulism in canned fish, coffee prices set to soar, floods or drought devastating the wheat crop etc. She had a whole drawer filled with bags of flour, but the only thing she ever made with flour was yorkshire pudding and she stopped doing that when frozen yorkies became available. However at least she was supporting the ecosystem, the flour was home to assorted insects and weevils and we actually surprised a mouse (I was going to say frightened but I don’t think this particular mouse did frightened) when we were clearing the cupboard out.


    • In Accrington old people have a thing about stocking up with brerad. Bank holiday, Fuel shortage, drought, blizzard, ambulance service strike, you name it and all the old ladies are queueing to buy bread. And there old dears are the type that “put it in the fridge” and thus make a loaf last a month.

      So why do they need a years supply of bread when on a holiday weekend the shops are open anyway, ambulance strikes are one day and snow rarely lasts more than two days?

      You see it is not just our Dear Old Mum whose mind operates on this type of logic.


  4. Supersize Snacks (make Scooby Snack like like health food)We are always going on about Nanny State wagging her finger at our little pleasures like the occasional pies I enjoy or fatsally’s chocolate. And we’re right to feel peeved.

    Take a look at some of the most seriously artery clogging snacks in the wor…


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