I had gotten the idea from Matron of Husbandry's wonderful post on the step by step of churning butter at home. Then Freija did a post on making ghee. I saved the posts to my favorites list, and filed them off in my head as one of those little adventures I'd get around to trying-someday. I have a great respect for handmade butter. Besides reading about it in the Little House books, I have a fond memory of making it in class when I was in first grade or so. We simply all took turns shaking a mason jar half full until we felt our arms were falling off, eventually we had this little blob of butter the teacher rinsed in a bowl in the classroom sink, added some salt, and we all had a slice of storebaked french bread with fresh butter. I remember it tasting very good.
Then this week there was an article in Mother Earth News on butter making and the history of cultured vs sweet butter, and then last but not least the book "Self Sufficient Life and how to live it" I have from the library had a great writup on how to make it as well.
Being that the sun has hardly peeked out in about a month now, (this is the coldest, gloomiest "June Gloom" I have ever seen) I have been massivly bored and out of sorts. I needed to mix it up, so domething new, something interesting, something indulgent! Thats when it hit me. Butter! I have been using quite a bit of it latly trying to perfect my old fashoned butter pound cake skills, but thats another post in and of itself.
Ok, so I set out to make butter. Being that I have no pasture, no happy jersey cows and no butter churn I had to improvise in my urban setting:
Trader Joes Heavy whipping cream. This stuff claim to awesomeness is that its not ultrapasterized- that is, its fat molecules arent zapped to kingdom come. At only $2.50 for 16oz, it was more affordable then $16 for 16 oz of organic raw cream from the organic pastures dairy which is the only raw dairy thats to be found anywhere around here.
Kitchen Aid Artisan Mixer: my choices for churning the butter were the blender, the food processor, the mixer, or good old arm power with a jar. Being that I'm dealing with 2 small kids I dont have 2 hours to shake a jar, plus then my arms would be hurting so much I wouldnt have the strength to work the butter afterwards. The mixer was a Christmas present, and I am somewhat obsessed at the moment with figuring more uses for it then just the million attatchments.
Ok, so I skipped the culturing part since I forgot to buy cultured buttermilk to 'ripen' the cream. Next time I'm out I'll get some to experiment with my other pint of cream, for right now I just wanted to see how the process worked. I was also impatient and didnt let the cream warm to room temp or anything. I just pulled it out of the fridge, poured it in, and turned the mixer on as if to make whipped cream.
So here we start with that looks like standard, fluffy whipped cream. I let it go for about 5 minutes more...
Now we have a very stiff cream that looks almost like whipped butter. The flavor has also changed from being very bland cream (usuall I add sugar when making whipped cream) to a slightly "buttery" taste. a couple of minutes more, and it is actually starting to look grainy and theres a bit of liquid starting to seperate...
Another min or so and Suddenly its like the whole thing collapses, blink and you'd miss it, now you have little butter clumps and liquid buttermilk
Pour off this liquid and save it, voila, real (uncultured) fresh buttermilk. I'm planning on making bread with it tonight.
Cool thing with using the mixer is it made pouring the buttermilk off fairly easy, most of the butter was trapped in the whip. I used a plastic paddle from my rice cooker to mold the rest of the butter in the bowl into a ball.
At this point I tried to add clean water and let the mixer do the work of 'washing' the buttermilk, oh boy, bad idea, water sloshed everywhere, not even the bowl shield thing helped. Luckily the butter stayed in the bowl. So now its hand/paddle action time. Add cool water, press and fold butter over, twist a bit, repeat. See the buttermilk washing out into the water?
Pour water off, add fresh water, repeat. It only took me 3 times before the water looked fairly clear. Then just in case I did one more time.
Pour this off and now I'm using the paddle to try and press water out of it. I also added some salt to it. I'm not sure if I overworked the butter or something, but it got "greasy" (to quote matronofhusbandry). Mother earth news article mentioned something about not spreading the butter too much against the bowl or the butter can get "oily". Ok, I guess I did that. It was like soft margerine. Pour water off.
Then I pressed it all into a small blue glass creme brulee bowl and smoothed the top. Pretty! Then licked the paddle, mmmmmm buttery!
16 ounces of cream yielded oh, 3/4 of a cup of butter? and 6 oz of buttermilk
It was a fun experiment. I like the taste of this sweet, yet lightly salted butter. Covered in plastic wrap ( so it doesnt absorb any weird flavors) and set it in the fridge to harden.