Simple Dairy: How to make Butter
So far on the blog we’ve given instruction on various bits and pieces. You can now make your own bread and bacon: sounds like a near perfect breakfast to me! We are, however, missing one important element of the restorative bacon butty, and that’s butter.
Butter isn’t just for sandwiches though. There are lots of areas where butter is going to get used but why go to the bother of making your own? Here are my reasons and, more importantly, the steps for making it.
Do we make a lot of butter? Absolutely not! Let’s face it, good quality butter is not hard to find. In fact it’s probably easier to find good quality butter than it is to find good quality ingredients for making it.
So come on Rob, there must be a reason you’re putting this up; you’re not exactly selling it so far…
Well, there are actually quite a few reasons to make your own butter. Here’s a few…
- If you do have ready access to lots of cream, butter is a very good use for it.
- It’s easy, fun and interesting. For something this easy, why wouldn’t you do it, at least once, to see the process?
- It’s a cool project to share with bairns.
- You can add flavours to the butter for some great culinary uses, such as garlic butter, or herb butters to finish a steak…
- Using personalisations, such as using moulds or stamps, you can elevate a dining event from great to Wow!
Of course the last two of those reasons can be achieved with shop-bought butter but the satisfaction of making something wonderful from scratch is often reason enough for us. Anyway, I’m fed-up of trying to justify myself: If you want to make your own butter, here’s how it’s done…
Well, ingredient, really. All you need to make butter is Double, Whipping or Heavy Cream
2 pints of cream (Imperial, 2.4 pints American or 1.15 litres) will make just over a pound (500 g) of butter. This is easy to scale up, but scaling down could require a more manual method to churn.
For salted butter you will need about 1 teaspoon of salt per pound of butter (preferably Dairy Salt, but fine Sea Salt will do).
I’ll give some ideas for flavoured butters at the end with the options…
There is a bit of equipment required for this, but many of the items can be improvised.
- Stand mixer with strong whisk attachment. Ours is a Kenwood Chef. You could use a hand mixer, a manual butter churn or a whisk (if you have strong wrists). It’s worth putting the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 10 minutes before you start.
- Fine sieve
- Butter ‘hands’ or ‘pats’. You can get away with pallet knives. Soak the butter hands in very cold water for about half an hour before you start. This’ll help stop the butter from sticking to them.
- Butter mould or stamp. (Optional). Again, make sure these are soaked with the butter hands.
Put the cream into the chilled bowl of your stand mixer. If you’re using hand held, put the cream into a large bowl and place a damp tea-towel / dishcloth between the work surface and the bowl. Beginning at the slowest setting, raise the speed to medium and whip the cream.
The cream will get thicker and thicker. Soon it will go past the stage of a thick cream and start to look like scrambled eggs. After that the buttermilk will suddenly separate from the butterfat. You may need to push the thickened cream into the centre a few times with a spatula; stop the machine before doing so!
Using a fine sieve, drain the buttermilk away from the butterfat. Here we have a further reason to make our own butter; fresh buttermilk! There are a variety of uses for this by-product: Use it in smoothies, drink it neat, marinate chicken in it ready for fried chicken, or use it to replace some of the liquid in your Bread Recipe.
So, now we have butter. However, at this point it’s pretty poor quality and will sour very quickly. This is because there is still a significant amount of buttermilk in there. After all that hard work, eh? Never mind, it’s easy enough to get rid of.
You now need to get a bowl of very cold water. Place all the butterfat into it and, with very clean hands, knead the butter into the water. The water will turn milky as the remaining buttermilk is squeezed from the fat. Replace the water two or three times until it remains clear.
After kneading, get in with the butter hands to really mix and squeeze the butter. If you are adding any salt or flavourings, now is the time to put them in.
Now use the butter hands to form a good shape for your butter and you’re finished.
Ooh, so many. here are a few that spring to mind.
Use a butter mould to form pretty shapes. Make sure the mould is soaked in very cold water and really push the butter in, ensuring there are no air holes:
Making cultured butter. Follow the instructions for making Cream Cheese but do not drain the mixture. Whisk the inoculated milk and cream mixture to make the butter.
Make clarified butter or Ghee by heating to 150°C (300°F) for about 20 minutes (clarified) or 60 minutes (Ghee). In both cases you will want the clear liquid which should be filtered into a jar and refrigerated.
For flavoured butters, form the butter into a log, wrap in grease-proof paper (wax-paper) and chill in the fridge. Once chilled, it can be cut into disks, wrapped and frozen. These are great to finish a steak. Common flavours are:
- Wild Garlic
- Garlic and Herb (garlic bread anyone?)
- Other Fresh Herbs
- Beurre Maître d’Hôtel
So, there we have it. Very easy. Very chefy. Very quick.
Let me know how you get on.