If you google ‘how to make butter’, you’ll find thousands of ways to make it, but since we’re covering the basics here (and I needed to practice my photographing skills if we’re going to make a go of this whole blog thing) I figured it wouldn’t hurt to share one of the simplest ways to make butter.
It requires nothing fancy- just some cream, a jar, time, and some muscles. (Alternatively, if you have lots of cream or little time, you can just place it in a food processor, and you’ll have delicious butter in minutes)
For starters, skim the cream off of the milk and place in a jar. You’ll need a quart size if you have lots of cream; otherwise a pint size jar will do. I’ve found that the process goes faster if the jar isn’t over half full of cream.
Next, put a lid on it and let it sit out until it becomes room temperature. This makes the process much faster; otherwise you will be shaking the jar for a long time! I usually set it on the counter at breakfast time and end up making butter after lunch.
After it warms up a bit, it’s time to start shaking.
Even the kids can help!
Did you know that butter is actually really, really good for you? Now I’m not talking about Country Crock, margarine, or any of the other fake stuff. I’m talking about raw, grass-fed butter. It’s loaded with healthy fats, essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that your body needs.
According to the Weston A. Price foundation (if you are not familiar with them, it’s time you head over there and dive into the wealth of information they offer) Americans consume about 5.6 pounds of butter per person per year. That’s a far, far cry from the 18 pounds of butter per person per year consumed in the 1930’s before margarine was introduced and changed the nation’s eating habits as a whole.
Now, back to the butter making. Let me warn you… for about the first ten minutes, you’ll feel like your cow produced the wrong kind of milk, and you’ll never be able to make butter. But don’t fear! It takes some time 🙂 It goes through a few phases before it turns into butter. First you’ll get the lovely whipped cream, and then it’ll turn into thick, lovely whipped cream.
In the last minute or two, the cream will start to clump together and fall away from the side of the jar. Before you know it, you’ll hear some weird sloshing sound, and you’ll have made butter! When the butter forms, the golden butterfat separates from the buttermilk, and that’s what you hear sloshing around.
Whew! The hard part is over! Now you have two options… you can either use a spoon to separate the buttermilk from the butter; otherwise you can place the butter in a cheesecloth tied to a string and hung over a bowl to drain. Either works.
In this case, I used a wooden spoon because it was faster. Once the buttermilk is separated from the butter, you can freeze the buttermilk for later use or store it in the fridge in a jar for a few days to use in waffles, pancakes or biscuits!
Look at that beautiful, golden butter! After you take a few moments to marvel, you will need to wash your butter to get as much of the buttermilk out of it as possible, so it doesn’t culture as quickly. We, in the United States, are accustomed to fresh, sweet butter, however in many countries cultured butter is the norm. Think soured cream then turned into butter! If your butter retains some buttermilk (milk liquids) you will notice after a week or so (quicker left at room temp) a “cheesy” aroma. That is the “milk” culturing and it will remind you of a good parmesan! Milk is amazing when you really think about it! You can wash out your buttermilk by placing the lump of butter in a bowl of cold water and pressing the butter into itself. Stainless steel bowls work best as they stay “cold” and keep your butter solid, use what you have and just add a few ice cubes or colder water if your butter seems to be melting or sticking to the sides of the bowl. You will probably need to repeat this 3-4 times until the water is no longer cloudy from the buttermilk.
After the washing, you can add salt to taste if desired, but I usually just skip that step and proceed to storing my butter. Salt does extend the shelf life of your butter and is a great flavor enhancer, whether or not you choose to add salt you can keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for several days or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and freeze it for later use. I don’t get fussy about the shape of my butter; I just form it into a log and wrap it up or put it in a reusable container. Rachel makes butter in large batches- 2-3 pounds at a time and freezes it in 4 oz “sticks,” finding it easy to use in recipes, etc.
Well, that’s it! That wasn’t so bad right? Now you need to make some sourdough bread just so you have an excuse to spread a tablespoon or two (or three) onto it!