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May 23, 2013 01:34 PM

Anyone make their own butter?

Being a urban/suburban individual (until retirement), I never realized until several years ago butter was just cream that has been whipped, beyond whipped cream, with perhaps some salt thrown in. Also for that matter, didn't know what buttermilk really was either.

Has anyone tried making their own butter, and if so any tricks/tips to share? Also, how does it compare to Land O'Lakes butter, or other basic store bought butters?

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  1. We made butter all during World War II because we had access to plenty of cream through a family business and butter was hard to get in the stores. Just put cream in an electric mixer and wait until butter comes, then fish out the bits of butter, wash the butter under cold water, form a shape, and refrigerate it. This is also a fun thing to do with little children.

    1. Well, much depends on the quality of the cream. Do not use ultra-pasteurized cream, which have added thickeners to compensate for what the UP process does to the cream. In some places, you have to go to higher end stores to find regular pasteurized cream.

      1. LOL. And here I thought everyone did the "pass the jar of cream around and shake until there's butter" thing in elementary school. Shaking or agitating work better than whipping, since what you want to do is encourage the fat particles to clump together, not break them up. Historically, churns either rocked or had a "dash" or paddle.

        How does is compare? Well, to state the obvious, it's fresher. It's also usually softer, unless you work it a lot to get the residual water out.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          if you can score raw milk...

          there are old versions of churning butter that are amusing, the ones I'm familiar with use a heavy duty glass jar with a good lid (duh), some have a rocker base you can idly tip with your foot while reading or watching TV (or internet surfing or heck, meditating in your happy place) some just put the jar on the floor and roll that back and forth also with the foot.

          put it in a plastic jug in a knapsack on your dog and go play fetch!

          takes far longer than a crank or plunge churn, but not nearly as strenuous or distracting.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Yep. We also put a well-washed hunk of granite in the jar to facilitate the clumping. It took maybe 10 minutes of exuberant shaking. Then we spread it on saltines, since our butter had no salt.

            1. re: Isolda

              and the OP can indulge in a new hoarding compulsion: antique butter molds! much more hygienic than cats.

              and the salt often added is for storage more than flavor.

          2. I used to when we had dairy animals. I'd say that the hardest part is getting all the liquid out so it doesn't spoil quickly. I wouldn't even bother with commercial cream.

            1. Not until I have a cow. I make a lot of stuff, but the cost of cream vs. the cost of butter for me, at least, makes the process cost-ineffective. I do make yogurt, but I find the cost of a good-quality, thick yogurt to be much higher than the cost of the milk to make it, which isn't the case with the cream needed for butter. If you do try it, though, let us know how it goes? I'd be interested in the relative quality of the homemade versus the store-bought.

              3 Replies
              1. re: tonifi

                toni: the last time I scored raw milk in our neck o' the woods (my god it's easier to buy illegal drugs) was about 4 or 5 dollars a gallon, I think they gave a buck back with the jug washed and returned.

                who knows, maybe the folks at Local Harvest (sorry to get regional) can slip you a number.

                1. re: hill food

                  Wow, that's a steal for raw milk! Its more than twice that here. Heck, I pay $6-7 just for a gallon of organic milk.

                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                    the true cost is living out in frickin' nowhere. I pay plenty in other ways...

                    that price was maybe 2 years ago, probably has changed.