What cream to use to make homemade cultured butter?
I moved to Montreal, QC from the US and still can't get all of the creams straight. I don't understand the huge variety of dairy here - thickened, old-fashioned, cooking, table, coffee, etc., as well as the different gradations of milk fat percentage. I don't like that they all - Quebon, Lactania - seem to have additives in the cream like gum. Which cream should I use if I want to make homemade butter? I used to just use heavy cream and add a spoonful of sour cream to culture it for a day or two before churning.
No idea what they have in Quebec, but my advice is twofold:
1. nothing with additives. they stabilize the cream, making it more difficult to get it to separate into butter.
2. get the highest fat cream you can fine. I used to be able to get double cream (55% butterfat) and had much better results than with normal heavy cream.
I probably wouldn't use raw cream, because I don't trust my own hygiene standards enough.
Agree about the additives and high fat content. This is another thing you can better control when you know your local farmer.
Raw milk is much safer than the US government and the large milk producers lead you to believe. People drank it for millienia. It wasn't until we started subjecting cows to horrible conditions and feeding them garbage in the 1800s (e.g. distillery slop) that people began getting sick. Raw milk form pastured cows that eat fresh gras (not industrial producers...not even Stoneyfield farms!) is, IMO, much safer than any pasteurized stuff, not to mention much tastier too.
Don't be fooled.
I drank raw milk when I lived somewhere with a good supply (Philadelphia, I miss your dairy farmers). my concerns about raw cream (which is illegal in PA but appears to be available in CA) are about my own handling of the butter. I've generally had issues with the keeping quality of my homemade butter, and my experience is that raw milk spoils quite a bit faster than pasteurized, so I'd worry that raw butter would turn faster as well. nothing against raw milk.
I just made the best butter ever. Seriously, it exceeded my expectations. I think the trick was twofold: 1) I used RAW (unpasteurized) cream, and 2) I first cultured it with Creme Fraich culture that I bought from cheesemaking.com.
The problem in the US is that Raw Cream can not be legally sold in many states, including VA where I live. But I'm part of a cow share/coop, which is a way to get around this.
It will be expensive, but you can try starting with Creme Fraiche. Or maybe by Heavy Whipping Cream and culture it yourself, but make sure NOT to use the organic stuff that says "ultrapasteurized." That's kills even more of the good (probiotic) bacteria than regular pasteurization.
Better yet, go to your farmer's market, get to know the dairy guy, and get good cream from him - raw if possible.
BTW, cream from Jersey cows in the summer tastes best. Why summer? Because there's a higher percentage of fresh grass in their diet that time of year and it has a big impact on the cream quality/flavor. You'll see it will be even yellower.
Hope that helps!