I made butter. At home. In my apartment. Are you thinking I’m crazy? Are you thinking that I could easily buy butter from the store like a normal modern human being? You’re right, I could do that. And usually I do, but recently I made butter at home. It was awesome. I got the idea from Great British Food Magazine. It seemed fun to try and different. Lots of time cooking is functional. I make something for dinner. Or I make something for a party. Sometimes I want to cook just because I want to. Sometimes I like making something just because I’m curious and because I want to experiment with something new. So I made homemade butter.
When I think about making butter I think about places like Colonial Willamsburg where people in period costume demonstrate how things used to work. I picture a woman in a bonnet and plaid gown sitting on a front porch churning butter in a wooden churn. I’m not sure that’s even a realistic image but that’s the one I have. I also think that nowadays butter is like a base ingredient. It’s the thing you buy not a thing you make. As a result the process of making butter seems like something of a difficult mystery.
The truth is, making butter is pretty easy. Obviously professional artisan butter makers have more knowledge, experience and technique when it comes to making butter. I’m not suggesting making butter is not a skill. We’ve all had great butter, and bland butter, and fake butter. But making butter at home does not have to be difficult or strenuous. All you need is heavy cream (double cream in the UK), a food processor, and a sieve. Use the food processor to mix the heavy cream into a frenzy, wait until it splits, and then sieve out the buttermilk from the fat. You can add salt, or herbs or whatever you like. From one liter of heavy cream I made 265 grams of butter, which equals about 18 tablespoons – or about 2 1/4 sticks of butter.
The end result was delicious. Ryan said it was smooth and creamy. I’ll add that it’s rich and tasty. I will somewhat sheepishly admit that I did lick some of it directly off my fingers while I was making it, and I found it some of the most lovely tasting butter I’ve ever had. I think because it’s homemade it doesn’t have any stabilizers in it, so it warms and softens quickly therefore it’s easier to taste th flavor. I used regular store brand heavy cream but I bet buying a nice direct-from-the-farmer cream would make an even better butter.
Adapted from Great British Food Magazine, September 2015
Messy level: You will have to get your hands dirty with this recipe. Once you sieve the buttermilk from the fat, you have to get in their and knead out any excess liquid. It’s greasy and goopey so be careful what you touch and wash you hands with lots of soap afterward.
- 1 liter/4¼ cups heavy cream [Note: you can use any amount as long as it fits in your food processor]
- cold water
- salt (optional)
- Pour the heavy cream into a food processor.
- Turn the food processor to medium and beat the cream for about 5-8 minutes. Let it beat past the point of making whipped cream and until it starts to separate into buttermilk and butter fat. Listen to the food processor, it will start to sound different as it gets to this stage.
- Using a sieve, drain out the buttermilk from the fat. You can keep the buttermilk for something else if you want to.
- Dunk the butter into cold water. Knead the butter together and press out any left over buttermilk.
- Repeat this process of submerging the butter in cold water and pressing out the buttermilk. I did this about 5 times. Once the water is clear you're done.
- Add in some salt if you'd like. I added ¼ teaspoon or coarse sea salt.
- Gather up the butter into a ball or sticks - whatever shape you like. Wrap in parchment paper and store in the fridge to firm up a bit.
- Serve and use as you would regular butter.