Fiber Fool

Follow the feats and foibles of a fiber fanatic.

Making Butter

Filed under: In the Kitchen, Tutorials — Kristi at 5:21 am on Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A while back I tweeted that I was making butter. It illicited more responses than almost any other tweet I’ve posted. All kinds of people came out of the woodwork to ask me how I did it. It is quite simple and the results are delicious!

Pouring Cultured Cream Into Mixer

We get local cream in glass quart bottles from a local dairy. It is much more economical than buying the cream in the grocery store, supports our local economy and has traveled many fewer miles. Often when we order cream whatever recipe we have in mind does not use a whole quart. If we’re getting to the end of the cream’s shelf life and haven’t made use of it we’ll make butter with the left overs. Here we used the whole quart as we took it with us to DH’s family Christmas to and had it on our morning waffles.

You should be able to make butter with grocery store cream if you do not have a local source, though I suspect you would want to avoid the “ultra pasteurized.”

This was our first time making cultured butter, but I think we’ll be taking that extra step more often. It is not required though. I’ll be certain to note any differences between using cultured cream vs fresh cream.

To culture the cream we added 1 packet of cheese making mesophilic culture that we purchased from our local homebrew shop to 1 quart of cream from a local dairy and let it sit at room temperature overnight. This really thickened the cream and made it a tad of a challenge to get out of the bottle. Next time I would likely inoculate it in the mixer bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.

Whipping the Cream

You’ll begin just as you would if you were making whipped cream. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat it at medium high speed or so.

The Whipped Cream Yellowing

Unlike whipping cream you’ll want to continue whipping past the soft peak stage and let it break. It’ll start turning slightly yellow before it totally breaks. Once you see hints of yellow stick close as it will move fast through the following stages.

Buttermilk Just Starting to Come Out

Once you see a bit of liquid separating from solids and are getting splatters on the edge of the bowl turn down the mixer speed a couple notches. If you don’t slow it down the butter will start sloshing around in all the released liquid and you’ll have buttermilk all over your kitchen! Ask me how I know… LOL!

Lots of Buttermilk Has Come Out

More and more buttermilk will come out from the butter solids. As that happens keep turning down the speed of the mixer.

Nearly Done "Churning" the Butter

Once most of the butter solids have collected in the whisk attachment you are done with the “churning.” We were surprised to discover that culturing the cream really sped up this part of the process - it took only about 5 minutes or so in the mixer.

If you have not cultured your cream it takes more like 20-25 minutes. It will likely feel like you are making no progress for some time, but just let the mixer keep going. Don’t go too far away or allow yourself to get distracted!

Strain Off the Buttermilk

Now drain off the buttermilk into another container. The buttermilk can be used in baked goods like bread or scones or even in buttermilk pancakes. If the recipe specifically calls for buttermilk and you did not culture the cream you will still need to use a splash of vinegar to “sour” it as you would to sour milk for use in place of buttermilk. If you cultured the cream your buttermilk is already cultured and you are good to use it as is.

Washing the Butter

Buttermilk has a much shorter shelf life than butter. To keep the butter fresh longer you need to “wash” it to remove all traces of the buttermilk. To do this, form the butter solids into one ball, then add cold water to fully cover the butter and knead it like you would dough while keeping it in the cold water. Strain off the water and repeat until the strained water is nearly clear. On the last round of rinsing, add ~1/2 teaspoon of salt which will enhance the flavor a bit and also help extend the shelf life. Typically I wash and drain the butter about 4 times. The heat of your hands will cause some butter to melt and enter the rinse water so you won’t achieve a completely clear rinse.

Cultured Butter Cultured Buttermilk

With cultured cream we ended up with roughly a pound and a half of butter and probably about a cup and a half of buttermilk. When using plain cream we typically get less butter and more buttermilk.

Homemade Cultured Butter on a Saltine

I like to taste test the butter on a saltine. Grandma often buttered saltines when we had soup at her house. It was not something we did at home so it always seemed like a bit of a treat. It is even more so with our own homemade butter on one!

We just put all the butter in a covered bowl this time as we took it to share at Christmas. I usually split it in half and roll them into logs which I wrap with wax paper. One log is often frozen since we don’t go through butter terribly quickly. We have made butter enough now to look into butter molds, but so far we haven’t found ones that would allow us to make non-decorative butters in less than a pound. With only two of us we do not want a 1 pound block of butter. That would be even less convenient than the logs are.

It does taste much fresher and different than store bought butter. The difference is more than I had expected. It is not hard to find excuses to slather it on things like bread, french toast, scones, english muffins, baked squash and more. In some ways it feels like you aren’t taking full advantage of this great butter if it is in something with a bunch of other ingredients that will mask its flavor. That said, I have on occasion added herbs from our garden to a partial batch to make a compound butter. It makes a nice little hostess or thank you gift!

I can’t help wondering how wonderful sugar cookies or shortbread might taste with it. So far I haven’t trusted using the homemade butter in baked goods though. I’m not certain it would match commercial butter in its fat and liquid content and that could really throw off a baked good. I’m getting close to giving it a go though. I’ll probably start with something where the butter doesn’t play a super crucial role. I’ll stay away from pie crust or scones with it for a while. Have any of you used homemade butter for making baked goods?

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