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A Fun Little Buttery Project

May 23, 2010

I made butter this past weekend.

I kid you not.

Butter. Homemade. [swoon]

When I was growing up, what my family called “butter” came in a tub and was mildly unpleasant. The flavor was very meh, but worse, I could never get the stuff (more properly known as margarine) off the knife. And it wouldn’t melt right. I avoided it at all costs. This is how food aversions are born.

So, until I hit college, when I began to cook and bake for myself, I’d never had a buttered roll, with real butter. Or that extra dollop of sweet creaminess on hot mashed potatoes. Believe it. It’s true.

But that’s okay. I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it anyway. You know how kids are.

Now I’m an adult, and although I can’t go so far as to say I can eat butter off of a spoon, I have immense appreciation of the stuff. I never substitute butter with anything else.

I still can’t stand margarine.

Here’s the recipe: organic heavy cream. Amazing, huh? All that goodness from one little ingredient. (I’m definitely not a butter-making expert, but, if the first experimentation is any indication, you’ll need twice the amount of cream as the amount of butter you want. This pint of cream yielded about a cup of butter.)
Into the stand mixer it goes. Grandma would be so jealous. She made hers by hand back in the old country. Start off on low-medium speed, then crank it up to medium.
You know that smooth, glossy whipped cream stage? This is a couple minutes past that, and it’s starting to look a scraggly. (In this case, that’s a good thing.)
Nine minutes in, we’ve definitely got a curdy thing going. Again, good.
Whip for another minute. The liquid buttermilk is really beginning to separate from the butter fat.
Now the goal is to get as much of the milk fats out as possible. This will keep the butter from going rancid too quickly. Press the mixture through a sieve, draining off the liquid. What’s left in the sieve is creamy, delicious butter.
And here’s the fun part: in a large bowl, knead ice-cold water into the butter, squeezing to remove as much liquid as possible. Dump the liquid and repeat with fresh ice-cold water, until the liquid squeezed from the butter runs clear.

(Tip: your hands will be buttery like they’ve never been buttery before. Wash them with liquid dish washing detergent—any kind that boasts grease cutting action—instead of hand soap.)

Here’s the result of the first kneading – it only took a few rounds before the water was clear.
And that’s it. Twenty minutes, and done.
Mix in your favorite herbs and spices, if you’d like. Wrap and refrigerate.
Or do what I did and make an awesome dessert:

And then brag to your peeps that not only did you make an awesome dessert, you also made the butter that went in it. They’ll be impressed. Trust me on this one.

  1. May 23, 2010 10:48 pm

    My mother in law ran a dairy farm and made her own butter from the cream. It was amazing! I’ll never forget her homemade bread, with homemade butter and homemade crab apple jelly! OMG! This looks amazing. I’ve made the crab apple jelly and the bread, but haven’t done the butter yet. I’m excited about trying to replicate that memory….


  2. May 24, 2010 7:52 am

    Most excellent. I am sure homemade butter with roasted garlic mashed in would be superb on some nice warm dinner rolls.

    Oh, it is too early in the day to start having these thoughts.

  3. KAF Bakers permalink
    May 27, 2010 1:18 pm

    I used to make butter every Thanksgiving with the kids when I taught pre-school. We poured the cream into a jar and let everyone shake it until the butter formed, then added a pinch of salt and spread it on white bread. Some of them still tell me they remember doing it, and they are all in high school now. Thanks for the memories.

    P.S. The cake looks incredible! Can you share the recipe?

    ~ MaryJane @ KAF

  4. SoupAddict permalink
    May 27, 2010 10:18 pm

    I love that making butter sparks so many memories. I remember being oddly disappointed at the outcome of the annual 5th grade Pioneer Day. Rumors from the older kids had it that we make butter to take home. My mom made this awesome pioneer dress, complete with bonnet, and I was all psyched to make butter. But, we didn’t. I still hold it against Ms. Evans.

  5. June 17, 2010 10:43 am

    It’s so funny, not two days ago I was wondering about how difficult it would be to make my own butter. Then, as I waste time at work, I clicked to your blog from a comment you left on Smitten Kitchen and…voila! I’m definitely going to be trying this sometime soon!

    On a sidenote, the other day I was cooking at a friend’s apartment and before I went, I called to ask if she had butter. She said yes and when I got there, she handed me a tub of “I can’t believe it’s not butter.” I think this is an unmistakable sign of what is wrong in the world…

    Thanks for the post!

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