February 5

Butter cutter’s inner scale is VERY finely calibrated

Andrew Menard knows a pound of butter when he sees and feels it.

If you do something often enough, you get really good at it. Just watch Andrew Menard cut bright yellow logs of butter for Casco Bay Butter Co.

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After Andrew Menard cuts the butter into logs, he can almost always tell just by hefting it if it’s a bit shy or a bit over the 1-pound target weight.

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Menard uses a Cabela’s sausage maker that’s been retrofitted for shaping 1-pound logs of butter. He stuffs the butter into the top of the machine, and it comes out as one long log at the other end. Menard uses a ruler to measure length – the average 1-pound butter log is 11.5 centimeters long – but because some sections of butter come out of the machine thicker than others, a log doesn’t always come out to exactly 16 ounces.

So after Menard cuts the butter into a log, he weighs it to make sure it clocks in at a pound. Menard has done this so many times, he often can measure by simply looking at the butter and feeling the heft of the log in his hand.

“I can feel it if it’s an ounce heavy or an ounce light,” he said. “It’s really interesting.”

Several times during a recent demonstration of butter cutting, Menard was right on the money, ending up with a log that was exactly 16 ounces.

Other times he was a little off, shaping a log that weighed a tad more or less than 16 ounces. But he always knew the direction in which he erred, heavier or lighter. He calls it out before actually weighing the butter, and he is almost always right.

“That one’s going to be a little heavy,” he said as he picked up a log he had just sliced and brought it to the scale. “I cut it wrong.”

He placed the butter on the scale, and it weighed 16.8 ounces.

If a butter log is heavier than it’s supposed to be, that’s OK, at least up to 16.5 ounces. Anything above that will be trimmed before the butter is packaged.

Menard’s margin of error is just 0.1 ounce for underweight butter; anything over that, he adds a little butter back to the log to make sure the customer gets what he’s paying for.

Of course, his goal is to be spot on every time.

“If I get it right, I get to yell it out, so it’s always exciting,” Menard said.

– Meredith Goad

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