IF YOU’RE WONDERING why anyone would make homemade butter when the stuff is so easily available, it’s because you don’t live in my small village. There are only two brands here, and lately both have had an off-taste. I hope it’s something picked up in storage, and not due to some new chemical in the milk.
I use very little butter nowadays: a smidgin on my gorgeous homemade bread, of course; a generous dollop in mashed potatoes, naturally; a wee dot on vegetables… and that’s about it. I don’t make a lot of cakes and pies, but I would use it there too. For cooking, I’ve been using mostly virgin olive oil since way before it became fashionable, when it was still an expensive luxury.
Back to our homemade butter. I hadn’t made any since the seventies. I thought I had learned to make it from Julia Child, but I checked and I can’t find a recipe for it in any of her books. It doesn’t matter, since I remembered as if it was yesterday.
If you know how to make whipped cream, you know how to make butter – butter is simply heavy cream that’s been overwhipped!
Start with at least two cups of heavy cream (whipping cream or 35% cream). You can use a food processor or a stand mixer. I used my KitchenAid and started with the whisk, then switched to the paddle.
You need high speed to coax the cream into separating. I think they put something in it to keep if from turning to butter.
Just persevere and in 10 to 15 minutes of beating, you will see yellow globules start to form, and some liquid will appear.
At this point I placed the whole thing in the fridge, including the paddle, just long enough to harden those little globules.
I had to repeat that cooling once more, but you may not have to.
Continue beating until the butter comes together enough that you can see you will be able to pour off the buttermilk without pouring off some of the butter. (That’s the best way I can describe that.) At any rate, pour the milk through a moistened cheesecloth or a fine strainer while holding back the butter with something like a skimmer.
Pour the milk into a clean container — that’s good stuff!
Once you get a nice mass of butter, pour off all the buttermilk and, keeping the butter in the bowl, go over to the sink and start washing your butter under cold running water in order to get rid of all the milk. (If you don’t, your butter will go moldy and rancid very quickly.) To do this, you massage it with your hands, and keep changing the water until it runs very clear.
Now you have to get rid of the excess water. You do this by pushing the butter against the walls of the bowl with a spatula. Do this several times until you don’t see any more droplets.
If you want salted butter, now is the time to add some salt. Do it a little bit at a time and keep tasting till it’s the way you like it.
Salt does help preserve the butter, plus it tastes better on bread. You could salt part of it, and leave the other part unsalted.
I turned my production into four small logs which I wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and then I froze three of them. That way, I’ll be sure that my butter is always fresh. The logs are nice because each slice is a perfect little pat.
Making butter at home is probably not going to save you money. It all depends on the price of 35% cream where you live. But here, I found that it cost about 50% more than store-bought butter, and we pay more here for everything than in the big city.
However, that cost is comparable to what I would have to pay for “premium” butter, if I had access to it.
Out of one litre of cream (one US quart), I got 350 grams (about 12 ounces or 3/4 pound) of butter.
I also got 2 cups (500 ml) of very nice milk as a by-product. This buttermilk is the not the same kind as commercial buttermilk, which has been cultured to make it sour. But it’s not skim milk either, it’s rather rich and yummy and tastes better than the store-bought stuff.
It’s good because it doesn’t have that off-taste, but it’s not as tasty as a good dairy-made butter, so you really should add salt to it.
Yes, but if I can I’ll just buy some premium butter in the city, where the turnover is faster (ensuring freshness), the storage conditions more optimal (preventing off-tastes) and the price lower than in my tiny village.
Of course, if I had my own cows, I would definitely make my own butter.
Homemade butter makes a great gift! Turn it into herb butter – my favorite is with garlic, parsley, lemon juice and grated lemon rind, and salt. Great on steaks, fish, just about everything! Pack it in a pretty crock and the recipient will remember you long after the butter has run out.
A good place to look for seasoned butter recipes is your favorite butter company’s website,
Just type “seasoned butter” in the search box.
Taste your cream before you turn it into butter!