Have you ever watched an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" and wished you were Caroline Ingalls tucked inside her little cabin, wiping her chapped hands on a homemade apron, laboriously churning thick cream into bowls of sweet butter??! Or Olivia Walton walking back from the barn sloshing fresh cream from an old wooden bucket, intent on crafting homemade butter for billowy, southern style biscuits and homemade bread?! The thought might have fleetingly crossed my mind about a thousand times!
Since I don't have my own milk cow or an old wooden butter churn (although I do have homemade aprons and chapped hands), I can still make my family homemade butter at home for such things as billowy biscuits and homemade bread...and so can you!
To make your own butter, you will need: 1 litre (about 4 cups) of 35% cream, 1 tbsp. of granulated sugar (optional), a 1/4 tsp. of salt (unless you prefer unsalted butter), a strainer and large bowl, a mason jar (for the buttermilk that separates from the butter), some ice water, a piece of cheesecloth or a clean tea towel (to squeeze excess buttermilk from the butter) and a kitchen aid mixer (fitted with the paddle attachment)...or you can a food processor (I use this nowadays...so much faster!) ...you can also use electric hand beaters or a large jar...anything to beat or shake that cream beyond the whipped cream stage into butter!
First, pour the cream into the bowl of your kitchen aid mixer, (or food processor or large bowl if you are using electric hand beaters)...
...add 1 tbsp. of granulated sugar to the cream (this step is optional, but we think the hint of sweetness just makes the butter even more delicious...if, that's even possible!
Using the paddle attachment, beat the cream on medium speed...
...then, after about 20-25 minutes of medium speed mixing, the cream will start to thicken then look slightly curdled...keep going, you are almost there! (Using the food processor takes a fraction of this time I have recently learned!)
You will notice at this stage, the cream will look curdled and white liquid will start to separate from it, this is called buttermilk...
...because the liquid is separating from the butter, it is highly advisable to make a cover of plastic wrap to keep the buttermilk from sloshing over the sides of the bowl! If you don't, you may be left blinking though buttermilk coated eyelashes, pondering a whole new list of swear words...so, for the love of God, make the cover and turn the speed down to low as you finish churning the butter!
When the butter clumps together, it is time to strain the liquid from the butter.
Pour the contents of your mixing bowl into a strainer fitted over top of a bowl to catch the buttermilk...pour the buttermilk into a mason jar and store it in the fridge for later use.
This buttermilk is not the same as the variety that you buy at the store as that one has been cultured, however this liquid is still full of nutrients and excellent to use in cooking and baking!
Place the butter into another bowl, then pour ice water over top. The water will turn cloudy as more of the buttermilk is released from the butter...continue rinsing until the water is fairly clear.
Wrap the ball of butter in an old, clean tea towel or a piece of cheese cloth and squeeze out any remaining buttermilk...extracting most of the liquid will make your butter keep longer.
After the liquid has been squeezed out, sprinkle a 1/4 tsp of salt onto the ball of butter...(you can use a 1/2 tsp if you like it saltier)
...then use your hands to work the salt evenly into the butter.
Form the butter into a rectangle or a log and wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap...store in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.
...and there you have it, homemade butter straight out of your very own kitchen...except perhaps the kitchen aid mixer lacks the pioneer flair that I was going for!
How to Make Butter at Home (without a churn)
4 cups of 35% cream
1 tbsp. of granulated sugar (optional)
1/4 tsp -1/2 tsp of salt depending on your taste (this is optional, omit if you want unsalted butter)
1. In the bowl of your kitchen aid mixer, with the paddle attachment (or using a bowl and electric hand beaters), add the cream and tbsp of sugar...beat at medium speed until the cream starts to look like it is curdling (about 20-25 minutes). At this point, make a cover for the top of bowl (around the rotating paddle) to catch any buttermilk that may start to slosh around. (If you use a food processor, it will take less time to make and less mess, as it has a cover!)
2. When the butter and buttermilk have separated, pour the contents of the bowl through a strainer fitted over top of another bowl. Pour the buttermilk into a jar and store in the fridge for another use.
3. Place the ball of butter into another bowl and pour ice water over top. Drain cloudy water and continue rinsing the butter with ice water until the water is fairly clear...this step helps to rinse away buttermilk that is still in the butter.
4. Wrap the butter in a piece of cheesecloth or an old clean tea towel and squeeze out any remaining buttermilk....extracting most of the buttermilk will make the butter keep longer.
5. Unwrap the butter from the cloth and sprinkle with a 1/4 tsp. of salt, working it evenly into the butter with your hands.
6. Form the butter into a rectangle or log and wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Store in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.
* makes about 2 cups of butter
* makes about 2 cups of uncultured buttermilk that can be used in cooking or baking
* butter will keep for about 2-3 weeks in the fridge, longer in the freezer.