Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How To Make Butter

Here is a tutorial on how to make butter.  Yes, I'm serious! We are going to make real butter and no, you don't need a butter churn.

I know a lot of you are probably asking yourself, "Why in the world would I make my own butter when I could just buy it at the store?"  Well that's one of those questions I love!  My first response is to say "Why not make it myself?"  I have already purchased the milk so the butter comes as a "free" product if I will just make it.  Second, I love to know what I'm eating, where it came from, and how it was prepared.  When I take out the middle man I answer all those question myself.  Plus it is one more thing on my personal list of steps to REAL self sufficiency. 

I started making butter in my Kitchenaid mixer and that worked very well.  My only gripes were how many things I had to wash after making it, and since our real mission is self sufficiency, how would I make it if we had no power or if we were trying to use little or no household energy?  There again, I can hear a lot of you saying "Really?  She's thinking about how she could make butter if she had no power?  You've got to be kidding!"  Honestly that's where this path has led us, and it's so exciting and challenging.  For the fun of it I will show you both ways and let you be the judge as to what is the easier method.

Here we go!

This fresh milk we get from the farm.

Notice how the cream rises to the top?  If I were to shake the milk all the cream would redistribute into the milk and it would taste like nice rich whole milk.
See how it sticks to the side of the rim?  That's because the cream is thick and heavy.

 Here is the Kitchenaid method.

Skim the cream off the top of the milk & put into a mixing bowl.

 Use the whisk attachment and start mixing the cream on speed 2.  When it begins to thicken just a little bit move to speed 3 or 4.  The colder the cream is the longer it takes.  I found this out the hard way.

Notice how the state of the cream is changing.  If you were to turn the speed to medium high and add a little sugar you would have whip cream.

Continue to increase the speed as the cream allows.  If you turn it up and the cream splashes out of the bowl then take it down a notch.  Before long you will start to see little yellow flakes.  This is butter.  Keep mixing and the cream will slowly change from white to yellow and start clumping together.  As this happens the buttermilk will separate from the butter.  The longer you mix it the more buttermilk will be released which is good.

As the butter starts to get firm and clump together it will get caught inside the whisk.  If that happens just take the attachment off and tap it against the bowl and most of it will come out.

From here on the steps are the same whether you use the electric or hand method.

These days the method I use is to shake by hand in a Mason jar.  This is the simplest method I've come across to date.  Skim the cream as above and pour it into a Mason jar, then just put the lid on and shake away.

McClane is skimming the cream into a Mason jar.

McClane is fussing at me! "Mom, I'm just making butter already! Do you have to take a picture?"  Gotta luv it!  He's an urban homesteader and doesn't even know it!
It's best to let the cream come to room temp. or close to it.  Believe it or not, back in the day, farmers used to collect their cream for several days at a time, at ambient temperature the whole time, before they would finally dump all they had collected into a churn and make a large amount of butter all at once.  The cream sitting out in no way makes it 'rotten' or 'bad'.  Once you have collected your cream into the jar, just shake it until it turns into butter.  As soon as it starts to clump, take notice of how the cream turns very thin.  The thin part is the buttermilk.

Believe it or not we "fuss" over who gets to shake it!

See the butter floating in the buttermilk? Keep shaking till its a solid ball or mass.
Next pour the buttermilk off the butter and make sure you save it!  If you buy buttermilk from the store you'll notice this type is much thinner.  This is because it hasn't been cultured.  It's great to use in biscuits, pancakes, waffles, or any other recipe that calls for buttermilk.

Wash the butter and then 'work it' or keep pressing the butter around with a spatula to work the rest of the milk out of it.  As you do this additional buttermilk will pressed out of the butter.  Pour it down the drain and rinse and repeat till all the remaining traces of buttermilk is gone.

Most people are used to the taste of butter that has salt in it.  If you know which type of butter you prefer just proceed accordingly.  Just know that if you like your butter with a bit of salt that a little goes a LONG way.  I've over salted ours a few times and it can nearly ruin your butter.

My daughter McKenna and husband Eddie bought this butter crock for me on my birthday.  They thought I was crazy for wanting something so "old school", but I just love this thing!

Homemade butter such as this can sit on the counter in a butter crock for a week to 10 days, or it can easily be frozen for at least 3 months if wrapped tightly.  I love my butter crock!  It keeps the butter both soft and fresh.

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