This may sound cheesy, but something tasty is spreading across local farmers markets. In recent months, Achadinha Cheese Company has been churning out a blend of butter that begs the question posed on their sandwich board, “Who doesn’t ❤ butter?”
Achadinha’s handmade cultured butter is a blend of cow and goat milk—a combination that achieves a velvety richness of flavor so unique that you may be tempted to eat it by itself.
“Our butter has taken off quite well, but it’s the most labor-intensive thing we have,” said Donna Pacheco, who runs the dairy farm with her husband Jim and their four grown children in Petaluma, California.
The Pachecos are the third and fourth generations to carry on the family’s dairy farming tradition, which began with Jim’s grandfathers in the Achadinha area of the Portuguese Azores. Jim’s parents settled the ranch in Petaluma in 1969.
Achadinha Cheese Company makes most of its dairy products with a signature mixture of cow and goat milk, and much of the work is done by hand. Donna explains that the creaminess of the blend comes from the cows and the flavor comes from the goats.
“I honestly believe it’s about what they’re eating and how they are treated,” she said.
Both livestock are benefiting from a diet of brewers grains supplied by two breweries in the region. This spent mash of barley adds subtle flavors to the milk, and the fermentation aids the animals in digestion.
“Our girls don’t eat corn,” Donna said. The goats are fed alfalfa and graze openly on the 230-acre property situated in the prized wine growing region of Sonoma County. Moist air from the Pacific Ocean naturally irrigates the farm.
Achadinha has had some success getting their butter into restaurants in Northern California. But according to Donna, the farmers markets are the best venue for sales. The chance to sample the flavors often wins over customers, even those who don’t normally like the taste of goat milk products.
“The first time I had goat cheese, I swore I’d never eat it again,” admits Donna. She went on to reveal that some goat cheeses seem less palatable for a reason. Goat milk spoils faster than cow milk, so the longer it’s allowed to sit, the more it develops a tangy flavor.
How does Achadinha work around this? By milking their goats on the property and aiming to turn it into butter or cheese within a few days.
“It’s just a matter of doing it the right way,” Donna said.
The butter is completed with kefir, healthy bacteria and sea salt. The bacteria is added to enhance the butteriness and make it more digestible, even for those who are lactose intolerant. The butter also contains no stabilizers or preservatives.
When you buy a batch of butter, Donna recommends transferring it to a ceramic or glass container before storing it in the fridge where it should last for three weeks.
“Cooking with our butter will kill the culture,” she said. “We recommend spreading it on bread, crackers, rolls, tortillas and muffins.”
At Achadinha’s farmers market stands, you can also buy the kefir that goes into the butter. The draining process for their kefir gives it a thicker consistency than other drinkable yogurts.
Of course, Achadinha Cheese Company is best known for award-winning farmstead cheeses, most of which are also goat and cow milk hybrids. Broncha and Capricious are two varieties that are exclusively made by Achadinha. They also offer goat cheese, fresh feta, and a selection of flavored curds. Many of their cheeses can be ordered by phone or email and shipped to you.
In the Los Angeles area, look for Achadinha Cheese Company at farmer markets in Santa Monica (Wednesdays and Sundays), Venice Beach (Fridays), Echo Park (Fridays), Old Town Newhall (Saturdays), Silver Lake (Tuesdays and Saturdays), Hollywood (Sundays), Mar Vista (Sundays), and Culver City (Tuesdays).