How to Make Butter
Oct 15, 2010, Updated May 14, 2014
Jen Hoffmeister is a 30-something foodie who thinks both food and life should be sweet and spicy. She shares recipes on her blog, Piccante Dolce — I’m a big fan of her Meatless Mondays recipes, in particular. Today she shares her technique for making butter at home, which, as it turns out, is surprisingly simple.
If you just discovered October: Unprocessed, go here to find out more and take the pledge. Don’t worry if you missed the start date! You can start your 30 days today, or simply join in for the rest of the month.
Upon taking on this unprocessed challenge I decided to try something that has been on my list for quite some time. Butter. Now I’m sure when I talk about making my own butter the image of Amish women in aprons and large wooden churns come to mind. My friends initially had that image, anyway. Replace it with the image of your stand mixer and a liter of heavy cream. Seriously, that is all you need. And since your mixer will be doing all of the work, there is very little blood, sweat or tears — unless they are tears of joy.
Do you need a stand mixer to make butter? Not necessarily. But bear in mind this process takes between 20-30 minutes of beating. Doable, I’d imagine, with a hand mixer, though I didn’t try it so I can’t say for sure.
As for the cream you should have at least 35% heavy whipping cream, as it is sold here in Canada. Preferably you want one that is organic and comes from grass-fed cows. You’ll also need two containers for storage, one for the butter and one for the amazingly fresh and delish by product of butter, buttermilk. Yes you can buy buttermilk, and you can even make it from regular milk by adding a bit of lemon juice. But neither compare to freshly made buttermilk — it’s amazing. So good you can actually drink it. Go ahead and try. If you don’t drink it all after that first try, use it for any number of things: Pancakes, chicken, maybe even for a red velvet beet-colored cake with a honey cream cheese icing. I think I know what I’m doing with mine…
Now how do we get said butter from cream? Quite simply. Pour the cream into the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment beat the cream on medium (around 4 or 6). As you beat it, you will pass through a number of stages.
Thick and foamy cream. Not too much to do with this so we’ll let it keep going.
Delicious whipped cream. All I ever want to do here is add some maple syrup and eat the whole bowl, I swear it will be worth it if you resist the temptation though. Just let it keep beating.
Broken whipped cream, the kind you get when you lose track of the cream you’re whipping. A disaster in most cases but luckily not here. At this point you’ll want to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. We are so close, and you really want all of that cream to be part of the transformation when it happens.
The, all of a sudden the magic happens. You see a splash of liquid and look into your mixing bowl and find these beautiful, solid, little globules of butter floating in buttermilk. It’s pretty amazing how it all of a sudden just happens.
At this point you want to turn off the mixer and strain the buttermilk from the butter. I do this but pouring it all into a sieve and press the butter to extract any remaining buttermilk. Not only do you want as much as possible for any multitude of other uses, but you also want to get all of the buttermilk off of the fresh butter because it will spoil much quicker if you don’t. (If you are using it all right away it’s not as big of a deal.)
After you’ve pressed out as much buttermilk as you can, you now need to rinse the butter. All you do is fill a large bowl with cold water, place the ball of butter into it a squeeze and massage it. Drain, then repeat this process until the water ends up clear — you’ll likely need 2-3 bowls of water. At this point you’ll want to mix in some salt if you choose; I leave mine pure and unsalted. Finally, press it into your container, like my perfect little mason jar, place it in the fridge and voila!
You don’t need to make butter to take part in the unprocessed challenge — you can find perfectly good organic and/or farm-fresh butter in most places. But I did it in the spirit of the challenge. The act of making butter just seems at the heart of it, showing something that we take for granted, buying that which you can make at home. It is so rustic and homey and so worth it. It is really amazing to watch the transformation from liquid cream into delicious butter. And I swear you’ll be a rockstar the next time people come over and you say you made the butter they are spreading on their homemade bread. Go ahead, try it. Not only will you impress people but you will also be so satisfied in making something like this at home and knowing exactly what you are feeding yourself, your friends, and your family.