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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