Friday, September 17, 2010

Making Butter

Try this, it’s fun.

After taking my kids to the History Museum for Homeschool Day, I decided to try to incorporate what we learned into some fun projects. Thus was born my plan to make butter. I remember making butter in elementary school. We put cream in a jar and took turns rolling it around the classroom and finally we ate what amounted to thickened salty whipped cream on little crackers. Since that time, the creation of “real butter” had remained a mystery to me. After leavening the history museum we stopped at the store for some organic cream and bubble gum*. Then I did some quick internet research. Making butter seemed easy enough. I was really excited about the whole project and the kids were a little excited too. I mean not THAT excited since there was no sugar or video games involved but these days I take what I can get…..

Making Butter

You will need 2 quarts of organic cream (minimally pasteurized and non homogenized if possible) and a pinch of salt.

Place the cream into a mixing bowl and begin to beat/whip. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer and the whipping attachment. You can add the salt to taste at this point or at any point until the very end.

Start mixing the cream on high speed. At first you’ll essentially be making whipped cream. You will see the cream start to thicken and after a few moments it will stiffen. You may at this point, wish to plunge your face into the bowl because whipped cream looks just so freaking delicious, but remember we didn’t sweeten the cream, we added salt, so trust me…you really don’t want to taste it. Yes, I know that a guy on Top Chef used salted whipped cream during the finale of the show, but he didn't win did he.

Now the fun starts….or if you are a seven year old boy…the fun stops and you say “mom…can you just tell me when it’s ready”

So anyway, at this point the cream will start to break down but you won’t really see anything happen for a while. The cream no longer looks like whipped cream but more like melted ice cream. It will also get a little messy because it might start to splatter. AND let’s be honest this stage is a little boring and it might take a few minutes but don’t give up hope. Cover your mixer with a dish cloth to catch the splatters and wait.

Soon you will hear the sound of liquid hitting the cloth and suddenly you will hear a glop glop sound from the mixer. Take a look you will see chunks of butter clinging to the beaters. Beat for another few seconds and you have butter. The liquid left in the bowl is buttermilk-yeah REAL buttermilk. But you aren’t finished yet.

Using clean hands gather up all the chunks of butter from the bowl and beaters and then holding the clump of butter over a colander rinse and squeeze the butter under cold running water. You could also rinse your butter in a bowl of icy water. Either way you need to rinse the butter. As long as you don’t use HOT water your butter will hold together.

Now you can mold your butter. I just rolled mine in wax paper and cut it into small pieces. You might want to freeze the extra butter. Homemade butter won’t last nearly as long in the fridge as the stuff from the store. Just thaw as needed.

Comparing my butter, "real" butter, and farmers market butter (in the tub)

Cutting the butter into pieces

My actual new goal is to make butter from my raw milk….but separating cream is not as easy as you might think and after feeding two unsuccessful batches to the dogs…well I’m taking a break from raw milk butter making for a while.
Now to address a question my husband presented...Is it cheaper than organic butter from the store....well no. Is it healthier than organic butter from the store? Well it depends, if you can get pastured, non homogenized, lightly pasteurized cream-then yes, otherwise no.

But it is still cool to try just once. YUM!

*Bubble gum not necessary for making butter.
*Bubble gum may be necessary for appeasing children.