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The best butter? The one you make

Over the years I have been reading CH, I am amazed by the things people make from scratch. The one thing that doesn't show up much is butter. People make their own bread, pasta, sausages but I seldom see mention of making butter. I do it all the time. Guests are amazed when I bring out buttermilk biscuits I've made from my own buttermilk and butter that I made that afternoon. So in the interest of showing how easy it is, I wanted to post this simple set of instructions.

Get a quart of the best quality heavy cream you can find and let it get to room temperature.

I have a kitchenaid stand mixer but you could use a hand mixer. Pour in the cream and use the whipping attachment. Wrap plastic wrap between the bowl and the mixer arm if you are using a stand mixer otherwise get sponges and paper towels ready to clean up.

Turn mixer to medium high speed and go away for 15 minutes or so. When you check it, it should be getting to the point of thick whipped cream. Watch carefully from this point as soon the whipped cream will begin to form into butter nodules and the buttermilk will begin to separate. The butter will stick to the mixer attachment.

I pour the whole thing through a fine mesh strainer and keep the buttermilk in an open container. Take the butter and knead it to bring out more of the buttermilk. Add salt at this point if you want. Once you have pressed out most of the liquid, I pack the butter into a plastic tub. A quart of cream will give you a pound of butter and a pint of buttermilk. Leave the buttermilk out overnight to culture and then use for the best biscuits or pancakes you can make.

I have added pictures of the various steps

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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  1. Bk, Home Cooking board would really enjoy this thread. Maybe ask Mods to move it since you kindly added the steps and tips.

    If you were my neighbor I'd show up with warm freshly baked bread and we could share.

    1 Reply
    1. re: HillJ

      Yum. Fresh baked bread. I don't do that nearly enough.

    2. Wonderful 'tutorial' for making 2 things I love... butter & buttermilk! Since I'm a do things from scratch sort of girl, I'll be giving it a try. Thanks!

      1. Did this one time when niece (maybe 9-10 at the time) was over... she was mesmerized!! Think maybe people don't make their own more often is the "shelf-life"?? Butter from supermarket, store brand or name brand, has preservatives. Homemade will go bad much quicker. But MAN is it good!

          1. re: pegasis0066

            Missed that. Thanks for the link.

          2. I have made butter - it's easy, fun, and can be impressive. However a pint of heavy cream is around $1.99, and only yields around a cup of butter. I can get a whole pound of butter for $2.50. The Land'O'Lakes ingredient list reads: Sweet cream, salt. Nothing scary in there. Also in my area you can only get ultra-pasteurized cream, which works, but doesn't have the same good flavor that a higher quality, less processed cream would give. I would never discourage anyone from making it, but they probably don't due to cost and availability of ingredients.

            5 Replies
            1. re: NonnieMuss

              In my area, a pound of Land o'Lakes runs about $5. I can get a quart of organic heavy cream for not much more. I get a pound of butter and a pint of buttermilk. If you taste the buttermilk, you will understand why its called that. Tastes totally different that the emulsified/cultured stuff you buy. The only thing in it is buttermilk. No glycerides or carrageen.

              So for my area, the cost is actually cheaper to make it yourself especially when you compare it to imported varieties and use the buttermilk as I do.

              1. re: Bkeats

                I've been grumbling forever about the milk laws in my state. I'm curious about using the organics though - since organics are generally pasteurized to death. I guess I'll just enjoy my low butter prices and making it for fun from time to time.

                1. re: Bkeats

                  Organic heavy cream has been blasted with so much heat it hardly resembles farm cream anymore. We can get cream here that is not ultra-pasteruized but the cost of that to make butter is not viable.

                  We are also lucky that Kate's Butter now sells the buttermilk that they get from the butter-making process, which is, as you say, a totally different product than the stuff made from skim milk with cultures.

                2. re: NonnieMuss

                  I love making butter - and I add a lot of salt, it is almost as good as beurre sale from Brittany. Such a pleasure.

                  I've been spending a lot of time in Idaho - they have raw milk everywhere (it is a little strange how easy it is to come by) - I'm not willing to go "raw", but low-temp pasteurized milk is oddly hard to find in the same markets.

                  You're right though, pasteurized (not ultra) and non-homoginized makes the best butter (and cheese if you're making ricotta).

                  1. re: thimes

                    Yep - I'm in KY, where raw milk sales for human consumption is illegal. So of course I'm really into making cheese and am having a doozy of a time trying to get my hands on milk, especially goat. UP cream will make a nice butter, but UP goat's milk makes a pot of sour slush. I can't justify a herd share, my own goat, or any of the solutions other than begging traveling friends to pick me up some milk if they happen to drive through better states.

                3. When my dad was growing up in North Dakota in the 20's and 30's, making butter was a chore left to the smaller children in the family. Done of course with a hand cranked churn. The look that he and his siblings would get on their faces even late in their lives if anyone mentioned buttermaking to them!

                  1. When my middle daughter was young she used to love to run the KitchenAid. So - one day making whipped cream I wasn't paying attention & she says to me "Dad - there's something wrong with the whipped cream!"

                    There was nothing wrong with it the next morning on muffins. Heh - kids.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JoeBabbitt

                      That's hilarious! When I was in college, I learned how to make whipped cream.....I made the same "mistake" of letting it go to long. I had no idea that butter was the final product in the process. GF and I were staring at it, tasting it, trying to figure out what the hell it was!

                    2. Maybe I'm slightly unimaginative, but you've blown my mind with your plastic wrap shield on the KA.

                      I remember once when I was probably 7 or 8 years old, my mom handed me a container of heavy cream and told me if I shook it long enough, it would turn to butter. I was a rambunctious child, and unbeknownst to me, she was just trying to get me to shut up and sit still for a while.

                      Over an hour later, I had "butter" and needed a nap.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        Thank you for the peace and quiet I'm now enjoying after handing my 7 year old a small carton of heavy cream. She's just stubborn enough to keep at it for a good while.

                        1. re: kahless

                          Try pouring it into a glass jar so she can watch it happen. It's pretty neat.

                      2. We used to have our own cows we milked on a small farm, so cream was in abundance (and good cream it was, too). I used to put pure fresh cream in a quart jar and have the kids sit on the floor and roll it back and forth as a "game". They had fun and I eventually had butter! But then again, I also made my own cheese! Boy, those were the days.

                        1. I do it in a food processor.

                          I prefer to use cream that is a bit past the expiration date because the sour tang offsets the natural sweetness in butter.

                          1. appreciate this. have a butter churner that is a giant heavy glass jar with an attached churner/whipper thingie. I'll get some heavy cream-what the hay ?)