Monday, January 17, 2011

Makin' Butter

I was recently reading through Fiber Fool's blog and noticed how easy she made butter making sound.

I had to try. I immediately went out to the our local fresh market and got some local fresh cream. Total cost on that was maybe $3-4. I got 2 pints to equal 1 quart. I didn't use the mesophilic culture this time, unfortunately. The local brew shops either didn't survive the economic crash or keep very bizarre hours.

I emptied both quarts into my stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, I turned the speed up to about 6 or 8 (medium to high-ish) and let it sit while I washed dishes right next to it. The cream splashed around a little bit, but it settled down after a few seconds.

After a few minutes, the cream started to get thick.

I didn't get pictures of everything that happened after this because I was washing all those dishes and didn't want to get Chris's camera all shmutzy. After the cream got very thick, it started to become more solid and took on the color of butter. As soon as it started to form into anything resembling butter, it literally turned into liquid that looked a lot of like egg yolk. Poof! I was amazed by this, and thought I may have screwed something up.

Turns out the actual separation was happening. Within a minute or two, there was a liquid and a solid that resulted: buttermilk and butter. I had to pick the butter out of the whisk since it had all gathered in there. I strained out the buttermilk and now had to knead the buttermilk out of the solid butter.

I followed Fiber Fool's instructions on that and was left with a big chunk of raw butter.

I wrapped up most of it for us, and then a small ball for my sister to try.

Honestly, I don't think making butter could be much easier: throw cream in a stand mixer. I'm kind of surprised more people haven't tried it. I guess our reliance on the grocery store shelves has become almost absolute. I love the fact that we can all make this at home, if we should want to.

However, I understand most people who will read this are parents, and as such, the ease of picking up a pound of Land O'Lakes  is significantly less complicated than separating your own butter. Arguably, you get a lot more out of a quart of cream for a few bucks than you do out of a box of butter - buttermilk, fresh butter, and a sense of self accomplishment! A fraction of an hour of actual work will save on time and gas at the grocer.

I also don't know how big the nutritional differences are. I figure if you can go natural, you should go natural. The fewer the chemicals and preservatives, the better. If anyone knows about the actual differences, I'd love to read up on it.

Believe it or not, I haven't tried it yet. I was thinking of using it to make cookies later on today.

Now if only I knew I could recreate that delicious, fresh, rich butter they have in Normandy, France. Nothing beats French country butter. Nothing.


Tasha said...

My concept of making butter has always involved a churn, and lots of arduous labor pushing the handle up and down. I suppose if you can just throw it in the mixer . . . if I had a mixer, which I don't. =/

Nicole said...

I have my mom's mixer and I think that I'm going to have to try this!

Sassafrass said...

Nicole, let me know how you do! :D

Gwen said...

I had no idea it was so simple. I think it's time to break out the old mixer and make some butter with my daughter. =)

Nicole said...

I've been trying to find the mesophilic culture but I live in a small town and no one carries it. My husband just happened to run into an organic farmer that said to use buttermilk to make butter. After re-reading your post I saw that you did not use the culture and you used heavy cream. Did you leave it out overnight? And what do you think of using buttermilk? The farmer said it contained the cultures already.

Sassafrass said...

Hi Nicole! I did use heavy cream. I don't think I needed to. A friend of mine used "fresh, raw milk" she got at the local dairy. Unfortunately for me, I live in a more urban environment where dairies aren't exactly plentiful. Since the original poster of the "recipe" had mentioned cream, I figured it couldn't hurt to try.

I'll confess: I didn't use the buttermilk. It has a short shelf life and I was more interested in the butter. I feel guilty about this, but in the next batch I try, I will have a recipe prepared for the use of the buttermilk.

I think in the raw state, you'd have the natural cultures. My local cream was pasteurized, so I suspect any culture that was there may be long gone.

If I were you, I would go with what the farmer says about the buttermilk. Now I'm going to have to do my research! :D

Nicole said...

Thank you! I am going to try it with the buttermilk. I live in a small town but we do have an organic store so that is where I'll be headed for the buttermilk. Oddly, we don't have any dairys near us, but lately I've heard rumors about being able to get raw milk from someone in our area. They just don't want their name thrown around.
As for the buttermilk from the butter making, I have no idea what to do with it either. I hate to waste it. Perhaps I need to google some recipes.
I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out!

Kate! said...

When I was a kid my grandparents used to buy butter from a farm down the road and it was the most amazing, salty, delicious thing ever. It was bright yellow and soft and oh so good!

Kate! said...

When I was a kid my grandparents used to buy butter from a farm down the road and it was the most amazing, salty, delicious thing ever. It was bright yellow and soft and oh so good!