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Butter is delicious. Butter also so simple to make you can whip up a batch in an afternoon. I recently enjoyed a day at The Milk Shanty, learning to milk a cow, as well as make butter and cheese.
Now when I see butter I think, "Store-bought Butter? But I could make that better." Nearly everything is better when homemade from fresh, unprocessed, simple ingredients.
Since it's always easy to make it perfectly when the teacher is standing right there, I then went home and tried my hand at making butter and tasting the final product. I expect much more homemade butter in my future.
Step 1: Shake the cream.
Get whipping cream or heavy cream. This is the cream that is on top when you have raw milk. Place cream in a large mason jar and start to shake the jar. I use the standard quart sized Ball mason jars, any bigger and they would be hard to hold.
- If you are using raw milk, use a stainless steel turkey baster to remove the cream from the top of the milk. Try to move the baster around while sucking up the cream to prevent the baster from sucking a tunnel through the cream and grabbing milk too.
As you shake the jar, the cream will start to look like a whipped milkshake with air bubbles. After 20-30 minutes the fat in the cream will clump together through the agitation, the clumping will happen all at once. One moment you will have cream, the next...thump, butter in buttermilk. The fat will clump faster if the milk is at room temperature than if it is cold.
Mix the cream in a stand mixer. This will take approximately 20 minutes but 20 minutes you are doing other things while the cream turns first to whipped cream then to butter floating in buttermilk.
Step 2: Remove the butter ball, and save buttermilk.
Once the butter has solidified and is surrounded by buttermilk. Drain off the buttermilk and save it for buttermilk pancakes, or buttermilk biscuits. Amie at the Milk Shanty said she uses buttermilk for healing infections on animals and reviving sick chickens besides cooking with it. If you skimmed your cream off raw milk, you could add the buttermilk back to the milk to restore some of the volume and flavor.
Step 3: Remove excess buttermilk
You will want to remove excess buttermilk to get a solid butter stick.
Option #1: Use cold water and your Hands
- Using cold water, rinse the butter to remove excess buttermilk. Press the butter ball between your hands and squeeze out the extra buttermilk. Dip the butter in cold water to prevent it melting in your hands. The cold water will become cloudy as you press buttermilk from the butter. Change the cold water as needed, until the water coming from the butter is mostly clear.
Option #2: Butter paddles
- Use butter paddles to press the butter between the two paddles and remove the excess buttermilk and water. To me, it seems more work than it's worth, but others may debate this. To use, press the butter between the two paddles then scrap the butter back together into a ball in the center and press again. Repeating the reform and press motion until there is little liquid left.
- The advantage is you don't have to handle the butter or risk melting it from the heat of your hands. I had never heard of butter paddles until I took the butter making class so here's a link to what I am talking about.
Option #3: Press in strainer
- Pour the butter and buttermilk into a strainer. Drain out the buttermilk. With a spatula press the butter to the side and watch the excess buttermilk come out. Spread the butter, press and fold it over itself.
- With this method, you don't have to touch the butter. (No slimy fingers!) You can save all the buttermilk and don't introduce more water into the butter. This is my new preferred method of making butter.
Step 4: Add salt if desired.
Fold the salt into the butter if you want salted butter. The salt will also help to preserve the butter and extend it's shelf life. At this point you could also add any other fun, tasty extras like garlic, jams, herbs or spices to your butter.
Step 5: Store your butter or enjoy right away.
The butter will be pretty soft at this point, press it into a mold or simply place it in a container for storage. Some people store their butter in the refrigerator while others leave it on the counter in a butter crock or ceramic dish.
The Debate: Refrigerate Butter or Leave it on the Counter
While grandma may have left butter out on the counter, there are a few concerns about food safety and I found it difficult to find hard sources on this debate. I could not find an FDA site page that listed where they recommend leaving butter at room temperature or not. I did find an article on Gizmodo.com that claims the FDA approves leaving butter out, but I can't find the science behind this and it doesn't make a distinction between pasteurized or raw.
StateFoodSafety.com states that pasteurized butter can be left on the counter but raw butter should not. As for me, I will refrigerate my butter for now as it is raw and continue to search for some science on the issue.
From cream to butter in 5 easy steps: Shake the cream, drain the buttermilk, rinse the butter, add salt, and enjoy! Simple and done.
Yields: From 14 oz of cream, I got 10 oz of buttermilk and approximately 3.5 ounces of butter (a little under a stick).
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Add your thoughts: Do you refrigerate butter or leave it on the counter? Be sure to mention if you have pasteurized or raw butter.
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