Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to: Butter

This summer, when our 4H club went on our big camping trip to the ranch in Idaho, we used my great-grandmother's old wooden butter churner to make our own butter. It hadn't been used in over 50 years and had been serving as a decorative flower holder for quite a while. We cleaned it out, sterilized it, and put it to work. It was great for the kids to see the butter forming in the churner and they loved tasting the end result. Here is a recipe for making your own butter at home under more modern conditions.

Ingredients: one gallon of heavy whipping cream, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, ice water, salt (optional)

Tools: large bowl, plastic wrap or bowl cover, spatula, wooden spoon, hand or stand mixer

Mix the whipping cream and buttermilk. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 to 36 hours, or until the cream starts to thicken and becomes slightly tangy. Check the temperature of the cream. It needs to be around 60 degrees Fahrenheit to move on to the next step.

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whip cream on high (like you would if you were making regular whipped cream). Beat until it reaches the 'stiff peaks" stage, then reduce the speed to low and continue mixing.

The cream will start to look grainy and yellowish as the butterfat starts to separate from the whey. When the butterfat has formed large curdles, stop beating and drain away as much of the whey as possible.

Pour 1/2-1 cup of ice water over the butterfat mixture to further harden the curdles and to begin washing away the excess whey. Using a wooden spoon, knead the butterfat against the side of the bowl to thoroughly wash it.

Drain the cloudy water. Repeat this process three or four times until the whey is completely rinsed away from the butterfat. Continue kneading the butter in the bowl for another minute or two to remove and bubbles of rinsewater that may have gotten trapped inside the butter. If you're adding salt, this is the time to do it.

Spoon into a storage container and refrigerate. One gallon of whipping cream makes approximately 3 1/4 pounds of butter. And for a slightly different method, check out my friend Deanna's technique...
great for energetic kids!