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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. http://www.webexhibits.org/butter/kit...

        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.

              2. My Dad does and we try to discourage him from doing so. He buy cream in bulk and then makes butter whith what is left when it hits it's use by date. It's really not that good.

                1. I really wish I could find grass fed cream at a better price, I'd gladly make my own butter but as it stands I can buy grass fed butter much cheaper. I'm still working on better sources though.

                  I love, love, love antique butter molds and would love to have an excuse to buy them!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                    yeah I'm a sucker for the negative in any process, molds, prints, photographs etc.

                  2. I make it all the time. I much prefer it to anything else purchased in the store except for a few expensive grass fed butters.

                    Tip :Ultra pasteurized cream is fine too, it is not as good as really quality raw cream, but it is just FINE and is a bit of an "urban myth" that you can't use it. Weird. Of course, the better the cream, the better the butter, but any homemade fresh butter is better than anything you can buy in the grocery store, IMO.

                    You might try making cultured butter. It is a shame we can't get good cultured butter in the US. I love it it and is stupid simple to make at home.

                    Of course, you get the bonus of buttermilk to use too :)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sedimental

                      Agree about the ultra-pasteurized - I live in a state with really strict milk laws, so ultra is all I can get, but with a stand mixer or food processor it's still super easy. Just add cream and salt if you want, hit start and walk away. It's not the least bit cost effective, but a fun thing to try - especially for kids, and especially if they read the Little House books.

                    2. I've tried making it and it was a fun interesting project. I went into it knowing it is not cost effective. However, I was able to make cultured butter which I never see in the stores around here. The culturing and fermenting step gives it a nice flavor.

                      So if you're doing it for the fun, the learning experience, and a unique product - go for it!

                      If you're doing it to save money, there's a reason why there's a book called "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter"


                      1. Used to make it sometimes, years ago, when I lived on a farm and had access to bootleg raw milk. The milk came with an inch of cream on top. The colors were different ... the raw milk had a sllightly bluish tint, and the butter came out pure white (most commercial butter is artificially colored). We made the butter in a blender. Bootleg because selling raw milk was (maybe still is) a high crime.

                        1. The added benefit if you really get the remaining milky liquid out is you have CLARIFIED butter at the end, but only if you do a good job of getting it out and keeping the butter free of milk solids.

                          1. After being inspired by Melissa Clark making it for the NY Times, I recently made some cultured butter using the more didactic America's Test Kitchen version (http://www.americastestkitchenfeed.co...). And it tasted like...butter I get at the store. I used fancy organic cream, unpasteurized whole milk plain yogurt and salt I bought in France. It was not complicated to make, but not an insignificant amount of effort to produce something that tastes like Breakstone's. I'd give it one more go if anyone has any tips for exceptional homemade butter...

                            1. multiple times per week in fact… OH has been spoiled, and says he does prefer it to any store-bought (keep in mind, i doubt he's ever bought or had one of the amazing "gourmet?" and highly expensive butters).
                              i throw it in my mini-food processor; sometimes i throw the blade in the freezer for a minute while i'm doing something out, but it's really not necessary. i salt OH's, but you don't have to. if you do it in a FP, then my tip is make sure that the blades are basically covered with enough cream. otherwise it takes longer and you end up having to keep scraping down the whipped cream off the sides of the FP. let it rip until you start to see it clumping, then it will start to spatter the buttermilk separating out. i like to let it go for another 10 seconds or so, and it looks like it's back to a liquid. make sure you drain off the buttermilk really well (i've started keeping mine -- sometimes cook with it, and trying to figure what i'm going to do with the rest of it…) it takes all of 2 minutes to make, and it tastes great. highly recommend.