Days Gone By - stories from the past

Have you ever eaten Bitterweed Butter?

This is a cute story that many who lived on a farm can relate to. 

Bitterweed Butter


Dorothy Graham Gast

When I was in 10th grade, my teacher at Tuscaloosa County High school, Mrs. Maxwell was extolling the virtues of fresh churned butter over margarine. I asked Mama if I could take my teacher some butter the next day. After I put the soft butter into a quart mayonnaise jar in the refrigerator at bedtime, all I had to do was grab the jar as I ran for the school bus. In November there was no possibility of the butter getting soft on the cold bus.


Between homeroom and first period World History I presented her with a brown paper bag with a jar in it. All that day I could imagine her buttering biscuits the next morning. When I got off the bus Mama asked, “Did you get the butter with the bitter weeds?”  I  was humiliated. Mrs. Maxwell never mentioned the butter nor did I. How do you make bitter butter better? It is better to let bitter butter be.

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About Dorothy Graham Gast

Dorothy Gast lives in Romulus, Alabama on the Graham family farm. She taught in Tuscaloosa County Schools for nearly 30 years. She has a "Mine, yours, and Ours" family. She has volunteered in numerous organizations after her husband's eight year struggle with Alzheimers' ended. She helped organize a volunteer fire department after she was 60 and served as board secretary and nationally certified firefighter after extensive training. Her attempts to get the community reading failed, but she contributed books to the new Sipsey Valley high school from the library in her home friends helped her establish. She is known locally by the silhouettes she cuts free hand of children. She began to write nostalgia stories after a grandson asked her to write down the stories often told at family events.

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  1. No but I tried to drink milk after the cows had eaten bitter weeds. I still won’t drink out of those glasses.

  2. It made the milk bitter, too.

  3. I’ve eaten some, but it is not good, we kept a check on where our cows fed and pulled up any bitterweed that we found. It ruined the milk and the butter!!!

  4. I have never “eaten” the butter after the cows had consumed the “weeds”. I do recall my grandmother throwing out the milk and butter after discovering that the cows had eaten the lovely little yellow blooms from the bitterweed plants. I also recall my grandfather cutting down or pulling up the “weeds” so that the cows did not eat them. This was a tedious and ongoing job! That was long ago, but in today’s world, when driving along rural highways, I see what appear to be “fields” of the little yellow blooming plants along rural highways and wonder if that if “Bitterweed”, which is the only name I ever knew. Surely, by now there has been an attempt at eradication of this bitter little problem!

  5. I’m very grateful that we now get our milk from the dairy case at Walmart. The whole fetch the cows, feed and water them, milk them and strain the milk through cheese cloth was one of the first things I discarded when I set up housekeeping.

  6. My husband said he has had bitterweed milk.

  7. My mother said that if a cow at bitterweed the milk would taste bitter.

    1. it would !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. My grandmother said the same thing…. And she could always tell…..

  8. Many, many times and it was awful!!!

  9. I’ve tasted bitter weed milk……nasty

  10. I have had bitter weed milk due to the cow eating bitter weeds. Yes it is awful yuck.

  11. Bitter weed is great for one thing. When you run thru the cow pasture barefoot and accidentally step in fresh cow patties, it is great to have bitter weed to drag your foot on and slid the bitter weed thru your toes to remove the manure. Done it lots of times.

  12. Milk taste bad,as well.

  13. What is the purpose of bitter butter?

  14. My Mother told me about this. Cows that eat bitterweed give bitter milk which makes bitter butter.

  15. At certain times of the year, the milk in Baldwin County..
    .even from a dairy…would taste bitter! Lol!

  16. I hated that time of year when the milk had that peculiar taste. Even the eggs had it!

  17. One time in over 6 decades and I can still taste it!

  18. I remember from when we spent summer at Granddaddys house where we milked early morning and after supper for the milkman to pick up daily.

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