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Have you ever wondered how to make butter at home?
While reading through the September 2009 issue of Acres USA, I came across an enlightening article, “Butter is Better” by Anne Van Nest, on the health benefits of butter and a quick and easy guide on how to make butter at home.
This pictorial tutorial is a synopsis of that article meant to guide you through the process of making butter using various different methods. Not only will your make the best tasting butter, you can do it for less than store bought prices! but first…
A Few Points About Making Butter
• Raw or pasteurized fresh cream is used to make butter. Look for cream with the highest fat content such as Heavy Whipping Cream (36% fat), the butterfat is what we’re after. If you get your cream delivered fresh from a farm you may notice that pasture raised cows produce the best cream for butter in the spring.
• Fresh Butter has a short shelf life. Start off will a small amount of cream, and make frequent, smaller batches to avoid mass spoilage.
• One Pint of Cream yields about one cup of Butter and one cup of Buttermilk.
• Cultured Raw-Cream-Butter, with its distinctive taste, must first be “ripened”. Raw cream is poured into a large stainless steal bowl and covered with a clean kitchen towel. Next it is set into another bowl of cool water and left in a cool room ( 60∘F). Taste every 6 hours. The raw cream will develop a pleasant smell and taste that grows increasingly sour over time. It should not leave a rancid aftertaste. Raw cream can be fermented for as little as 8 hours (lightly fermented) to as long as one week (extremely fermented) before being ready for making butter. The longer it ripens, the more unique the taste.
• Pasteurized Cream Cultured Butter involves inoculating your cream with purchased mesophilic (cool-temperature) bacteria culture from specialty stores or with yoghurt, sour cream, or buttermilk from the grocery store that contains said live cultures. Let this sit as described above, to produce a thicker than usual cream.
Butter Making Methods
There are many methods by which one can learn how to make butter. It is a simple process really. By disturbing the cream you cause the butterfat molecules and buttermilk to separate. At which point the buttermilk is drained, and saved, and the butter is washed with several washes of clean filtered water.
Making Butter is easy with any of these methods:
• Mason or mayonnaise jar with a marble
• Upright Mixer with Whisk attachment (use plastic wrap to protect from buttermilk splashing)
• Small Hand or Electric Churns
• Food Processor with either the plastic blade, whisk, or normal chopping blade. Filled 1/4 to 1/2 full.
The Agitation Process
1. When Making Butter, always start with Heavy Whipping Cream, whitish in color, at 50-60∘F. If it is warmer, the butter will come out soft with a shorter shelf life, any colder and it will take longer to make. I have chosen to go with the food processor method here.
2. Churn the cream for 10-15 minutes, or until the butter begins to form a clump. This is the easy part of learning how to make butter. As you begin to agitate the cream, it will first thicken into a thick ice cream like consistency.
3. As you keep processing, the cream will thicken into fluffy, golden granules of butterfat.
4. As the process continues, the granules of cream will “break” into butter clumps and buttermilk. Keep agitating a little while longer to be sure all the buttermilk is separate.
5. Removing the Buttermilk. The next step in how to make butter involves cleaning the butter. Shape the butter into a ball and with a wooden spoon press into against the side of the bowl or press the butter into a colander or strainer lined with cheesecloth. Rinse the bowl clean, place the butter in the bowl and repeat until no buttermilk comes out. Cover the butter with water.
Reserve the Buttermilk for future use. It can be used instead of water in a number of recipes from pancakes, to biscuits, oatmeal and beyond. 1 pint of cream should yield about 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 cup of butter.
6. Washing the Butter. Repeat the above step in forming the butter into a ball and pressing it against the bowl with a wooden spoon, this time with added pure water. Buttermilk will mix with the water turning it cloudy in color. Pour this off and repeat with clean water. Do this continuously until the water comes out clear and unclouded to get the most buttermilk out of your butter as possible. This will improve the shelf life of your butter and is the only real time consuming part in learning how to make butter.
7. Removing the Water. Drain as much of the water from the butter as possible by continuously pressing the butter ball against the bowl. If you like salt in your butter, this would be the time to sprinkle it onto the ball. Be prude, one-quarter of a teaspoon of salt per 4 ounces of fresh home made butter.
A Composed Butter is butter mixed with flavoring ingredients such as flavored waters, herbs and spices, garlic etc… One can make composed butter with store bought butter simply by leaving the butter out until malleable and mixing in the desired flavoring ingredients. Feel free to experiment with different color and flavor combinations I’ve decided upon plain unsalted, salted, orange zest-cardamom, and lemon zest-pepper.
8. Storage After adding flavoring or seasoning to the butter, it is done! Butter is best stored in an airtight container, wrapped in parchment or submerged in water. Keeping it from being exposed to the air increases its shelf life. You may also place the butter on a piece of plastic wrap, fold the top over, and press the edge of a baking tray, plate, or other object to form the butter into long, 1-2″ wide cylinders.
9. Refrigerate, Slice, and Serve. Fresh home made butter can be served on warm French Bread, Buttermilk Pancakes, Muffins, and much much more…!
• Throw away butter that begins to oxidize or change color on the outside.
• USe butter immediately and make small frequent batches to avoid spoilage and to maximize freshness. Only make what you can use in one week.
• Salted Butter can be kept frozen for 5-6 months. Unsalted Butter will keep in the freezer for 3-6 months. We don’t recommend using frozen butter for baking, as the fat globules tend to rupture, spilling their liquid and becoming grainy upon thawing.
• Saveur magazine listed their top 30 butters from around the world that had most impressed their editors out of 100 products tested. The winning butters were pubblished in issue 109 (March 2008).
I hope this Butter Recipe pictorial tutuorial has cleared any misconceptions or misunderstandings as how to make butter at home. Making butter is not only quick and easy but the satisfaction that comes out of eating your own home made cultured or uncultured butter is priceless. Have fun, spread the knowledge of how to make butter, eat toast and be happy!