- DavidH Apr 29, 2002 05:28 PM
When the price of butter shot up to 5 a pound I began to make my own. It has been on sale a couple of times lately and I stocked up on it so havn't made any lately.
I always notice the many different types and brands that are available. Who buys something other than the standard supermarket brand and what do you like about them.
re: Chris Craig
I just made some butter:
Put heavy cream (non-ultra pasteurized if you can get it) in your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium until the butter forms, which may take 10 minutes. Don't worry, it will start loudly splashing when it is done. Put in a strainer lined with a white paper towel, and press to remove as much liquid as possible. Squeeze, and add kosher salt ground to a powder in a mortar and pestle if you want it salted. Place in a pretty dish and refrigerate.
This won't keep more than a week, so freeze the excess any excess immediately.
I but Cabot brand sticks because it's cheaper ($3.09) than the store brand ($3.99) and my husband is a butter pig.
Speaking of butter, here's something I've always wondered about: My brother claims that sweet (i.e., unsalted) butter is rarely found outside NYC, and that it started as "a Jewish thing, and then it caught on with the rest of New York." I've never heard this from anyone else. What say you, 'hounds?
I don't know where you are located but if there's a Trader Joe's around, they have Plugra butter for $2.69 or so per pound and their own TJ brand for a little less. There was a long butter thread a few months ago but I can't seem to find it. I thought it was on the General board.
I normally buy whatever cheap butter is on sale (Land O'Lakes, etc.) but a couple of weeks ago for a dinner party I bought a pound of really good quality, European-style butter at the Park Slope Food Co-Op. It's amazing the difference when you're using it to melt on things (the reason I bought it was mainly because I was making a lot of things that requred butter: artichokes with drawn butter, asparagus tossed with butter and parmesan cheese, homemade lemon curd). I might never go back!
Not to change the subject, but I've also been starting to buy brown, free-range eggs. Not sure if I can tell the difference in flavor, but I feel like they're better for me (and for the poor chickens), anyway.
re: Lindsay B.
I suppose my initial reaction to having prices raised on me at what I consider an inappropriate rate is to find an alternative or just not to buy the product. But, curiosity is was primary reason and was fueled by
the price increase. I mostly shop at 4 stores; a local store which is not bad, a major supermarket chain, whole earth foods and a very large good ethnic store.
I started with a quart of ultra pasteurized (I think you could also use just pasteurized) whipping cream. The best price I could find on this was around 3.87. The standard output of this process is I believe that
1 quart of whipping cream generally gives about a lb of butter and 2 cups of buttermilk (the buttermilk is a by product of the process) so I figured about even on cost. I have not used or done anything with the buttermilk so I can't comment on that. As I understand it you can use the butter in baking as well. From the comments I got from those making butter was that the taste was worth it. I liked the results and it was a nice feeling to know you could make it. I moldled it
in a ramkim (small round dish) and it was gone in a
short time mostly on homemade bread. There are different things you can do to increase the flavor etc I am sure. but again I have a fast food approach on
cooking and don't always take the next step unless I am really interested or have the time. The process is not that difficult and worth a shot. I just have trouble these days finding enough time to devote to a lot of
these things that I like to do. I used things I had on
hand to make it rather than buy it. If you decide to
try it and want to know how I did it let me know and
I will post it.
I decided to use a hand mixer because I could control the speed better and I could also see the mixture as I was working with it. I used a large bowl as hand mixers tend to decorate the walls and everything around them. I let the cream sit out on the counter for about 2 hours till it reached about 60F (colder is ok). I poured myself a full glass of wine and gave it a go. It really didn't take that long. I used the second most slowest speed to churn. About 12 minutes into it and it started to thicken (Little clumps appear). This happens all of a sudden so you need to keep an eye on it as you go along). Using a rubber spatula work the butter till it holds together then pour off the buttermilk. I then transfered it to my pasta strainer (it is about 2 inches high and has holes in the sides and bottom). Using a rubber spatula you work the butter squishing it against the sides and bottom of the pan and then rinse it. Do this (about 5 times)or until the water runs clear and the butter holds together. I then used a wooden spoon to squeeze the rest of the buttermilk out. I did not use salt but you could add it at this point if you want(about 1/8 tsp for a quart of cream).
I stored it in a ramikan as I understand it will pick up the taste of plastic. It seemed to last for about a week. I think I got about 2 sticks of butter the first time and a little more the second time.
Actually, if you plan to try this with kids, I saw something in Parenting last month about doing just this project.
Pour the cream in a large glass jar with a securely screwed on top, and then pass around to the kids to just shake, shake, shake until it's butter. The article said this method takes about 5 minutes of vigorous shaking.
I did it DavidH's way, accidentally, the first time I made whipped cream. I wanted it to be REALLY whipped so I kept going and I guess I wasn't paying the best attention because all of a sudden it was clumpy and then I realized it wasn't whipped cream anymore. Oops... not the best topping for strawberry shortcake.
re: Chris VR
There are no new ideas: we made butter in grade school by passing around a jar and shaking it.
I later used that method with a girl I was tutoring (we were reading Little House in the Big Woods and I thought it would be cool to show her she could "churn" butter, too).
Definitely a good activity -- make the kids work for their butter!
I tried this a few days ago with outstanding results. I'm right now eating a fresh blueberry muffin made with my own butter and buttermilk, and that is the most satisfying blueberry muffin I've ever had (incidentally, I only just found out while making homemade muffins for the first time that you can mix the batters and pour them into cups the night before, then put them in the fridge for baking in the morning. Awesome!).
I used a Kitchenaid mixer with cream right out of the fridge, and it took about 17 minutes or so of whipping to set into butter. It's not clear to me whether the paddle or the whisk attachment is better - I started off with the paddle, but then it looked like it wasn't getting whipped enough, so I used the whisk, and then it started to whip up really well, but then the whipped cream started to collect in the middle of the whisk, so I switched back to the paddle. That seemed to work well, but I'm not sure if the whisk was even really necessary. I had to use a 5-6 setting, which is higher than your lower hand mixer setting, probably because I was using colder cream.
I got two medium ramekins plus a little bit, and about 2.5 cups of buttermilk, out of a quart of ultrapasteurized cream. The butter is >very< creamy, and much softer than store-bought at room temp. - it of course gets hard in the fridge, but when removed, starts to soften almost immediately. 2-3 minutes out of the fridge and it can be scooped with a spoon.
I haven't done the side-by-side taste test, but it does taste more creamy, and it certainly has a better texture than store-bought sticks.
The only problem I had was that it kept seeping through the holes in the colander, so I lost a little bit in the sink.
Since I actually don't eat very much butter, this seems incredibly well worth the modest effort. It also seems like a good gift for city folk (like me), who are unlikely to have ever thought of butter as something you can make at home.
Fante's has a bunch of butter-related products:
. but no butter stick molds. Anyone know where to get those?
My Vermont Butter & Cheese Company "Vermont Cultered Butter in the european style" cost me $4.39 for 8 oz last time I bought it.
It tastes like the butter my grandmother, with a lot of help from my aunt, made fifty years ago or so. They had a cow on premises for that purpose.
I could care less about the price. It is one of my personal necessities. There are worse ways to spend five bucks, considering the quality and joy it returns.
Little things mean a lot.
re: Win (Boston)
I usually buy supermarket butter or TJs (and never paid anything close to $5/lb for them), but last time I bought butter I bought a couple of premium brands to compare.
One was the Vermont Cultured Butter -- I just double- checked the package and it was 4.89 for a pound (not 8 oz.). It's excellent, and I'll definitely buy it again.
The other was organic from Straus (a big organic dairy producer here in the SF Bay Area). As someone had noted in a similar discussion on the local board, it has a slight but distinct "animal" quality to it -- probably better eaten as a spread than used as an ingredient.
Both were unsalted. As for unsalted butter being a NY thing, unsalted butter is widely available here, even in the supermarket brands, and has been for as long as I've been buying butter (25 years).
The best butter I've tasted recently, though, was a Czech butter called Jana Valley served in a restaurant in the Napa Valley. If I ever see it in a store I'm buying it no matter the price!
re: Ruth Lafler
You say you double-checked the package and the Vermont Butter was a one pound package.
Please indulge me and check once again...
Mine are definitely 8 oz for similar price. I haven't seen the one-pounders around, but they ARE pictured on the web-site.
re: Win (Boston)
I have bought the 1/2 lb cylinder shaped package from Bread & Circus for about what Win paid. I have also bought a 1 lb brick from Iggy's Breads for $6. I don't think Iggy's consistently stocks it though. I've also noticed the cylinder packaged product has salt added. The brick package does not list salt as an ingredient.
re: Andy T.
Right -- the store where I bought it had both the 8-oz cylinders and the bricks, and I bought the one-lb brick, unsalted. Maybe it was on special -- I remember at the time double-checking the price and the package size. This was at the Berkeley Bowl (in Berkeley, CA), which carries a wide range of products that are usually considered "gourmet" but at standard grocery store (rather than specialty shop) mark-up.
re: Ruth Lafler
As a Czech, I am partial to Czech butter too (very "clean" tasting, just pure creaminess without any extra flavors) and have in fact just returned from Prague with three bricks in my suitcase), but here's an online source for your fix (about five times more expensive than when bought in the Czech Republic, but what can you do):
When I was a little girl back on the family dairyfarm, we churned our own butter. It was WWII and this was, I think, a beat-the-rationing ploy.
We had two gizmos for the job, probably resurrected from earlier decades when farm life was more basic and they were really needed. One was a small wooden keg which lay on its side in a cradle and had a handle sticking out one end which turned a paddle inside. we filled it with cream and set it at the edge of the table, so the handle was out in space and our churning knuckles wouldn't get skinned.
The other was a big wide-mouthed glass jar with a screw-on lid containing the paddle. You fastened on a handle and churned away.
It took quite a few minutes before things started happening and a little kid could get pretty tired of the constant circular arm motion. When the butter started forming it was hard to churn and it took a grownup to do the last few turns. Mom then poured off the buttermilk (we used it to slop the hogs) and emptied the butter into clean water. She kneaded the solids in several changes of water until it was clean, and added a little salt.
There were two basic flavors of butter: the regular "sweet" which didn't mean unsalted, it meant made from fresh cream. The other was sour cream butter, and that was a nice flavor too.
Just a followup:
I bought most of the butters recommended. They are all
terrific. I made some raisen cinnema bread to test
with. I am always amazed at how much I like irish food.
Although the ingredients they work with turn me off I
always like the final product. The irish butter was
very good. Does anybody or everybody cook with these
butters. How much of a difference does it make it the
Anyway, I just wanted to mention a couple of other
butters. First is a cashew butter. Yes it is simply
cashew and oil but it is tasty and I like the taste of
cashews. I make this for my wife who grew up on it and
it is a defernce to childhood memories. The second is
yes, peanut butter. I keep a jar of store peanut butter
in the frig for recipes mostly because when I make it,
it is gone in no time. I am addicted to it.
In any case here they are:
Simple Cashew Butter
Note: Add as much oil as you want to get to the consistency you want. Last time I used about 4 tbls of oil.
2 C. raw cashews
2 T. canola oil
1 dash of salt
In a food processor or blender, grind the cashews finely. Scrape down the sides. Add the oil and process until creamy. Add more oil if needed to reach desired consistency. Store in an airtight container.
Yield: 1 3/4 Cups
Homemade Peanut Butter
Note: If you use unsalted peanuts then you can add a
little salt. Also I made this with spanish peanuts and it was not as good. I grind the peanuts first for about 2 to 4 minutes in the food processor and then put the oil in. I use about 3 tbls oil adding them one at a time. If you want to roast fresh peanuts put them in a
350F oven for about 20 minutes. You can leave the skins on or off.
1 1/2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon peanut oil
For smooth peanut butter:
Process the mixture until it's very smooth.
Store your smooth peanut butter in a sealed
container in the fridge. It will be good for 2 weeks.
For chunky peanut butter:
Take about 1/4 cup out of your 1 1/2 cups of
peanuts and set them aside.
Process the mixture until it's very smooth,
then stir in the peanuts that you had set aside.
Process a few seconds more to create the chunks
in your chunky peanut butter.