How to make butter

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.

Home-made Butter

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
  • Water

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.

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6 Responses to How to make butter

  1. Sarah B says:

    Yum! Fresh butter on homemade bread! We did this in second grade with little tiny baby food jars. It was sure good stuff.

    We made the switch to butter when we got married per A’s insistence. We prefer unsalted but all we can find here is salted. 😦

  2. daveloveless says:

    Hey Sarah! If you’re already paying the higher price for butter, you might try going the homemade route since you can make it without salt. It was truly deliciously divine.

  3. Anthony D. says:

    Hey Dave how about I welcome you with open arms? 🙂 I don’t believe I’ve ever purchased margarine ever in my life. I’ve certainly never made butter myself though, so way to be! I’m curious about doing it myself now…

  4. daveloveless says:

    Group hug!!!

    I rather enjoyed making it, but I’m very much into doing things myself. If we ever get a cow (could you see that in my part of town?), you can be sure we’d make our own butter, cheese, and so on.

  5. Sarah L. says:

    Butter will never claim to taste like margarine.

  6. Pingback: How to make Cheese « the prodigal

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