Courtney and I have been feeling very much the need to learn how to be self-sufficient and do things on our own. It was in that vein that we moved entirely to home-baked bread, have researched making soaps and detergents, and started canning this summer among a host of other projects we’re planning on doing but have yet to start.
Courtney is largely leading this effort now, and she recently proposed a switch from margarine to butter. I was initially opposed because I, like most of you, fell into the media propaganda that butter was bad and margarine was good. Margarine is also infinitely cheaper than butter.
Honest question: Do you know how they make margarine? Look it up sometime, and I’ll welcome you over to butter with open arms.
When we made the switch to butter, we began asking how to make it ourselves. It’s a surprisingly simple and quick process.
You’ll need the following ingredients and equipment:
- Heavy whipping cream (1 pint makes about 1.5 cups of butter or so)
- A quart-size glass jar with a lid
Set the cream out about 12 hours before you make the butter so that it starts to go sour. It’ll smell sour and all that, but it’s fine. When we made it last night, we actually skipped this step (it sat out for maybe two hours), and it still turned out great.
Pour the cream into the jar and seal it. Shake the jar firmly. You want a solid single shake about once every second or so. After about 4 or 5 minutes, you’ll notice that the cream turns thick and fluffy (that would be your whipped cream). Another minute or two and you get an immediate separation into butter and butter milk. You can shake it a bit more if you like, but once you’ve hit that point, you’re pretty much done.
Pour off the buttermilk and either save it for baking or throw it out. What’s left is pure, fresh butter. If you are going to keep the butter for any amount of time, fill the jar with cold water, seal it, and shake it a bit longer to rinse away any remaining butter milk. You can do that a few times until the water turns clearer.
Drain away any other fluids, pour the butter into a bowl, and enjoy!
I’ve started cooking with our home-made butter, and I’ve noticed that it tastes and works even better than the butter we are now buying. It’s unsalted, so remember to add some (if you want it).
While we don’t do it this way, we’ve seen recipes that say you can do this in a blender or with a mixer. Personally, it isn’t hard to do it by hand, and I take great joy in doing things a more natural, old fashioned way.