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Heavy Cream vs. Butter vs. Whipped Cream vs. Frosting

nooodles Nov 1, 2005 11:08 AM

A post on the SF board got me wondering: how does one make butter at home? I remember as a kid my sisters' teacher told them to bring home a jar of cream (and salt?) and shake like crazy until they made butter.

So, is butter just whipped cream without all that air whipped into it with a whisk? This is the closest I can figure, since butter becomes something fluffy and creamy (aka. frosting) when you whip sugar into it.

A website explaining the scientific process would be wonderful, unless someone can explain it quickly here in laymen's terms. I Googled homemade butter and got all kinds of complicated processes without any explanation of how cream becomes all these different products.

See, America? This is what happens when home ec and a healthy appreciation for making your own food disappears from the culture. You get people like me, who don't really know where butter comes from.

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  1. c
    Candy RE: nooodles Nov 1, 2005 11:18 AM

    I'm a home-eccy. What your sisters teacher was having them do was a simple churn and yes the heavy cream does solidify into butter. You can do it salted or un depending on what you like. There should be a small amount of whey or water to drain off too after the butter forms. I have not tried to do this with ultra-pasturized cream so I cannot tell you what would happen there. You can also just whip it with a mixer until it turns to butter too, that is what you get when you go past whipped cream. It will turn to whipped butter. See if you can get some regular heavy/whipping (not the ultra pasturized stuff if you can avoid it) cream and have a home ec project. The butter will need to ripen a bit to develop some flavor.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Candy
      nooodles RE: Candy Nov 1, 2005 11:26 AM

      Ooooh, butter is overwhipped whipped cream! It all makes sense now. Thank you so much.

      Time to get some Strauss heavy cream and get to work. Honey whipped butter for my dinner guests.

      1. re: nooodles
        Melanie Wong RE: nooodles Nov 1, 2005 11:57 AM

        If you have time to plan ahead, buy your non-ultrapasteurized cream a week before you need it. It will whip up much easier and have better flavor. Then if you have more time, age the butter a bit.

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          Mr. Taster RE: Melanie Wong Nov 1, 2005 12:28 PM

          How do you age it? Just let it sit in the fridge? Or on the counter?

          Mr. Taster

          1. re: Mr. Taster
            Candy RE: Mr. Taster Nov 1, 2005 01:00 PM

            Wrap it in foil or waxed paper and refrigerate. Let it sit a day or two.

      2. re: Candy
        goodnavy RE: Candy Apr 2, 2010 05:54 PM

        I was wondering if I can use "cultured" unsalted butter in buttercream frosting recipe. The Magnolia recipe calls for "unsalted butter", but I bought "cultured". Is that OK?

        1. re: goodnavy
          LauraGrace RE: goodnavy Apr 2, 2010 07:03 PM

          Hi goodnavy, the original post is almost 5 years old so you might not get a quick reply from the folks you are asking! :)

          Cultured butter is cultured in the same way that yogurt and buttermilk are. It has a rich, tangy, full flavor. Unsalted butter is simply that -- butter without salt. The two are not interchangeable necessarily. I wouldn't waste cultured butter in frosting personally (it's SO delicious on bread and in other cold applications), but I don't know why it *couldn't* work.

      3. b
        Becca Porter RE: nooodles Nov 1, 2005 11:19 AM

        My very nonscientific answer is, friction causes all the fat globules to stick together. You are left with butter and true buttermilk. You can do this in the food processor or mixer or by hand. That why they warn to be careful when making whipped cream, it will turn into butter. Hope this helped.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Becca Porter
          LT from LF RE: Becca Porter Nov 1, 2005 12:47 PM

          Yes, it happened to me once. Was I surprised!

        2. j
          josephsm RE: nooodles Nov 1, 2005 12:25 PM

          If I may ask, what is whey butter? I have never seen it for sale in NYC, but every trip to Toronto I bring back as much as I can carry. It has a deeper, tangier taste to it, and I think it has something to do with the byproducts of making cheddar cheese.

          I wish some US producer would make it.

          4 Replies
          1. re: josephsm
            Candy RE: josephsm Nov 1, 2005 01:04 PM

            Do you mean cultured butter? When I used to live on the shore of Lake Champlain Cabots made it. We used to get big tubs of it from a local farmstand. It was cheesy and delicious.

            Restaurant Tallent here in Bloomngton, IN uses it in the restaurant. The chef owner says that there is a maker south of here in the next county who produces his. I keep meaning to go to our Sat. farmer's market to see if it is being sold there.

            1. re: Candy
              josephsm RE: Candy Nov 1, 2005 02:46 PM

              I've never heard of cultured butter, so maybe it is the same thing. They call it whey butter in Toronto. I wish it were available in NYC - it's great on bread.

              1. re: josephsm
                Candy RE: josephsm Nov 1, 2005 03:26 PM

                great stuff

                1. re: josephsm
                  Caitlin McGrath RE: josephsm Nov 2, 2005 03:48 AM

                  I've never heard of whey butter, but if you want to try cultured butter and see if it's the same thing, try some Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. cultured butter. You can buy it at Whole Foods.

            2. h
              heidipie RE: nooodles Nov 1, 2005 06:45 PM

              I remember reading a memoir of somebody who had a really good time in the sixties, who used to drop acid, put a pint of cream in the blender until it turned to butter, then spread it on bread and eat and eat.

              1. f
                Fleur RE: nooodles Nov 3, 2005 01:55 PM

                When you overwhip cream, it will turn to butter and whey.

                Making your own butter is an interesting experiment for kids, but not worth the time or money.

                1. k
                  karykat RE: nooodles Apr 2, 2010 07:51 PM

                  I was curious so I checked to see what exactly cultured butter is.

                  According to Wikipedia, cultured butter was made in an earlier time when milk from several milkings was aged before making the butter. So the milk had fermented a bit and that gave a little different flavor.

                  Today, cultured milk is made a number of ways. One way developed in the 1970s involves making sweet milk (unaged) butter, and then adding bacterial cultures and lactic acid and letting the butter sit so it develops the fermented flavor.

                  (Personally, I prefer the taste of a good sweet cream butter.)

                  I had never heard of whey butter. According to the Wikipedia articles on butter and on whey, it's butter made from the cream that rises to the top of whey that forms when cheese is made.

                  According to the butter article, whey butter is lower in fat, saltier, tangier and cheesier tasting. And cheaper than whey butter.

                  Here's the butter article:


                  1. k
                    karykat RE: nooodles Apr 2, 2010 08:07 PM

                    I know our OP is probably not still looking for the answer, but saw in looking at this a bit that there's lots of entries on the web for making butter from cream. And it probably is better than what you'll buy if you use a high quality cream as a starting point.

                    An article I saved from a while ago talks about how to do it:


                    You might have to register (for free) with the NYTimes to see this.

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