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Let’s Make Butter!

Posted By Suzanne McMinn On April 20, 2010 @ 1:05 am In Cheesemaking,Extras,The Farmhouse Table | 59 Comments

Butter is one of my very favorite things in the whole wide world, so I’ve been really looking forward to making my own homemade butter ever since I found out I was getting a cow. As soon as I had a quart of heavy cream stashed away, I did it! And it was so easy.

I thought it would be more difficult. I studied in advance. Prepared. Planned. Discussed it with Beulah Petunia.

She didn’t really have much to say about it, though she’s generally opposed to margarine as it is in conflict with her livelihood.

Making butter is the process of releasing butterfat from the cream. Like cheesemaking, it’s an age-old and delicious way of preserving milk. I set out to try two methods–one, shaking the cream up in a quart jar, and two, mixing it in a blender. I got the blender out and everything. But I never got that far. I tried the jar method first and it was so quick and so simple, the mere notion of having to clean up the blender after that method sounded like far too much trouble. No blender method for me.

I’m a quart jar girl all the way!

Here’s how you do it.

Take one pint of heavy cream. Heavy cream. Not too fresh. It’s best to work with cream that’s been sitting in the fridge for a couple of days.

Some of Beulah Petunia’s cream is so thick, you can spoon it up.

I’ve refined my cream-skimming and am doing much better now–thanks for all the tips! What I’ve found works for me is setting the fresh milk to chill in a large bowl after I’ve finished handling it when I bring it in. The next day, I use a large stainless steel spoon to carefully skim across the surface. I take the thick, heavy cream off and that goes into one jar, then I skim off the light cream underneath to another jar. I’m getting much more cream since I started skimming from a big bowl!

Back to butter– Set your heavy cream out for several hours to come to room temperature. When you’re ready to start, pour your pint of cream into a quart jar.

Cover tightly with a lid and start shaking! At first, the cream will seem to expand and fill up the jar to where it almost looks as if you can’t shake it anymore.

(I had 52 doing the shaking here.) Keep shaking–next thing you know, a big yellow blob of butter will appear inside the jar. It’s like magic!

How exciting is that?

This took THREE MINUTES. From cream to butter–in three minutes. (Now you know why I said, forget it, to the blender. The jar is very easy to wash and who needs to take apart a blender for no good reason.)

Using a spoon to hold the butter in place, pour off the buttermilk, transferring it to another jar.

I see buttermilk pancakes, buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk cornbread…..!!!!

After removing the buttermilk, dump the butter in a bowl. (The most straight-sided bowl you have is best.) Using the back of a big spoon, press the butter, pushing out any remaining liquid. This is still buttermilk, so add it to your buttermilk jar.

Run cold water over the butter then press again, releasing as much liquid as possible. Dump this liquid–from this point on, it’s watered down and you don’t want to save it. Repeat this process of washing the butter several times until the water is pressing out clear.

After you’ve washed it for the last time, add salt to taste. (Salt also helps preserve the butter.) Refrigerate and eat with much happiness because you made it yourself!

This was unbelievably easy. And delicious. One quart of heavy cream should yield around a pint of butter, more or less.

There are numerous variations on making butter. You can make it with a stand mixer, a blender, or a food processor, too. (Or even the old-fashioned way with a hand-cranked churn!) Read the pearls of experienced butter-making wisdom here in the Chickens in the Road forum topic devoted to the love of making butter, Making Butter at Home, for more tips and instructions about other methods of making butter. (I learned a lot there!)

I love the jar method. For me, this works in three minutes flat, so I lost all interest in trying out other methods. If you’ve tried the jar method in the past and it took forever (I’ve heard people talk about shaking the jar for 30 minutes and having to pass it around to multiple hands because it took so long), or if you get a low yield on your butter, double-check a few things:

*Be sure to use really good, rich heavy cream.
*Don’t use cream that’s too fresh. Let the cream for butter sit in the fridge a couple days before using.
*Don’t use ultra-pasteurized cream.
*Let the cream come to room temperature before starting to make butter.

If you must use ultra-pasteurized cream, add a packet of direct-set mesophilic starter per quart of cream. Let the cream set for 12 hours, at room temperature, after stirring in the starter before making butter. (Starters can be purchased from cheesemaking supply companies.)

Beulah Petunia, heading for the milking station with dairy supervisor, Jack, and trusty sidekick for all endeavors, Boomer.

Make some butter!

Or you might upset Beulah Petunia! (And we can’t have that.)

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