Saturday, June 23, 2012

Adventures in Butter-making!

I read this post about making your own butter on the excellent DIY Natural page the other day and decided to try it for myself! It really is as easy as they say, and dare I say... fun?

Anyway, here's how it goes:
I bought a bunch of ball jars at the beginning of spring, right around the time we decided to join a CSA, in anticipation of all the fresh veggies I'd eventually need to can to keep from spoiling. So far, I've canned a whopping two things- apple butter (which was actually quite delicious, but we ate it so fast, it didn't even need the official vacuum-canning process). So I have a lot of jars laying around the kitchen just waiting to be used.

Step 1: Grab a jar and some heavy whipping cream. I bought a half-gallon of organic Horizon cream at Costco for $6.79.

 Step 2: Fill it with heavy whipping cream. I tried this last night and I filled the jar almost up to the top. This is not a good idea. You need some headroom for the heavy cream to expand during shaking. I ended up having to pour about half of my cream out to finish the job (don't worry, I saved it and made a second batch). So, for the half-pint ball jar, I poured in about a cup to a cup-and-a-quarter. I wasn't really paying attention. If you are planning on making butter for your baking needs and require a specific amount, I would recommend making more than you need.

Step 3: Shake! Shake! Shake!

I timed it this morning, and for my cup of heavy cream, it took me about a half-hour to make butter. This includes getting up to check on whatever mischief my 1 year old son was getting into, and stopping to take pictures. You could probably do it in about 20 minutes. If you used a stand mixer, you could probably even walk away and do something else, but where's the fun in that? Plus, it's really satisfying watching the cream go through different stages and finally turning into butter.

Last night, however, I went through a moment of panic like, "what if I'm doing this wrong?" I had posted on Facebook that I was planning on making butter, and my mom commented that she used to do this with her 4th grade class (she's now retired). So I gave her a call and was like, 'Am I doing this wrong?" Wise as ever, she told me there's really no wrong way to do it, and just keep on shaking! So shake I did. 

whipped cream. keep shaking!

Eventually, the butter and the cream will start to separate and you'll have a clumpy, milky mixture. You can pour off the milk and drink it or save it for recipes. It's pure buttermilk, which I am forever having to fake by pouring lemon juice into regular milk. I'm excited about having a small jar of it in my fridge for recipes like...buttermilk bread! Or pancakes! Mmm, pancakes.


Anyway, after you pour off all of the buttermilk, you're left with...butter. I took mine out of the jar and put it in a smaller container, gave it a rinse and then put it in the fridge to chill. You can add salt to your butter if you like, but I think there's enough flavor in it that you don't need to. Plus, now I have unsalted butter for making food for my son.

And that's how you make homemade butter. My husband says he wants all our butter made this way now, which is a great idea, but I told him he'd have to do the shaking. Plus, sometimes I need like a pound of butter. I'm not going to spend an hour shaking a ball jar before I start baking. And I haven't costed it out, but I'm pretty sure bulk butter from Costco is going to be cheaper.

Buuuut...I can see myself making homemade butter for Thanksgiving. It's such a nice treat.


Susan Urbanek

It's like your own personal shakeweight workout too! :) Butter making bonus!


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