How To: Make Butter

It can even make a rock taste good...
It can even make a rock taste good...
Photo by Ewan-M

Churn, baby churn! Pilgrim Inferno! Churn, baby churn! Come butter that mother down!

...I apologize for that. I got a little too excited. But when I stumbled across the process of making your own butter, I became instantly intrigued. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I'm always looking for new ways to amp up the feast, so I decided to give it a try.

Was it even worth it - is it really any different from what you can get in a store? The answer is yes. It's delicate, fresh, and stupidly easy to make. How was I never taught this at my second grade Colonial Fair?

Here are two easy methods to making homemade butter:

The Stand Mixer w/ Whisk Attachment Method

You start off by making whipped cream and keep mixing until eventually, the fat globules in the cream separate from the liquid, creating butter and what is known as traditional buttermilk (not the same as the cultured buttermilk you buy in stores).

Pour 2 cups of chilled organic heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. With a whisk attachment, mix on low until the cream thickens, then increase the speed to medium. At this point, you will have whipped cream. This of course, is delicious on its own, but don't stop - we're trying to make butter here, people.

Continue mixing and try not to panic. You will see the fat globules starting to clump together, creating a curdled-looking cream. This is the fat beginning to separate from the cream.

Don't worry - It's actually supposed to look like this.
Don't worry - It's actually supposed to look like this.
Photo by Edsel L

After about another 10 minutes, the solids will clump together even more, and the milky liquid will continue to separate. No, you're still not doing something wrong.

Buttermilk with separate from the butterfat.
Buttermilk with separate from the butterfat.
Photo by Edsel L

Pour the liquid from the butter and return to the bowl. Continue mixing, removing as much liquid as possible until butter forms. You can also use a cheese cloth to strain the solids from the milky liquid. The more liquid that is removed, the longer the butter will last in the fridge.

The more liquid you remove, the longer the butter will last.
The more liquid you remove, the longer the butter will last.
Photo by taiyofj

If you plan on eating it the same day, you will be fine to stop here. However, if you want the butter to last for up to two weeks, you'll need to rinse the butter in ice cold water. Fill a bowl with ice cold water and begin kneading the butter. The water will turn cloudy. Change the water and repeat until the water turns clear.

Two cups of cream will make about one cup of butter. Once the butter is formed, wrap it in parchment and chill in the refrigerator or if you can't stand the look of that bread staring you in the face, eat it all serve it immediately.

With this method, you can also use a hand mixer, but with the stand mixer, you can set it and forget it. Others have even used food processors or blenders to achieve the same results.

The Jar Method

Screw the shake weight - just make butter! This method is a great activity to do with kids if you don't mind a bit of an arm workout (okay, maybe more than a bit, but why not burn the calories now so you can enjoy the butter later?).

Just add the desired amount of cream to a mason jar, close the lid tight and shake, shake shake. After a few minutes, the cream will thicken and turn into whipped cream, making it harder to shake.

At this point, your arms will feel like they are going to fall off. Keep shaking. Eventually, the fats will separate from the milky liquid and the jar will be easier to shake once again. Keep shaking until butter forms.

Strain the butter from the liquid, using the kneading/rinsing method if you plan to keep the butter for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Both of these methods result in tasty, homemade butter, unlike the regular butter you'd buy at your grocery store. You can season your butter with sea salt, fresh herbs, olives, honey, fruit, and nearly anything to up the delicious factor.


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