Fresh, Low-tech Butter February 23, 2013 15:04

These are photos from a few months ago when I started buying non-homogenized milk.  If you let it stand long enough it's easy to skim the cream off the top and use it for all sorts of things - ice cream, coffee, crème fraîche, or of course butter! Since these photos were taken I've found other, less labour-intensive methods for this process.  A stand mixer with whisk attachment works very well, as does a simple food processor.  But if those aren't at hand, remember that a little agitation is all you need to turn cream into butter!  

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A pint jar 2/3 full of fresh cream and topped with a plastic mason jar storage lid.  Two small wooden blocks serve as agitators.  It's kind of like that ball that clunks around in a can of spray paint.


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Step one: plop in the agitators, then shake like crazy!


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Step two: when you see the butter separate, you should be able to gather up the solid bits with a spoon.  We got a nice yellow colour which I understand indicates that this milk is from jersey cows; your results may vary (annatto and carotene are both sometimes used to add a richer colour).


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Step three: squish the butter around with a spoon or special butter paddles to get the buttermilk out.  It helps to do this on a flat surface so the buttermilk can flow away.  Rinsing the butter with cold water helps get rid of even more buttermilk and thereby helps the butter keep longer.  Here we're trying to use a butter mould to form a nice block, but we didn't really have enough butter to fill it.


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Step four: enjoy your butter!  Keep it refrigerated or better yet in a butter bell for freshness.  

 Adding a little salt brings out the flavour and acts as a preservative. (try 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per liter or 4 cups cream).  

When you want to go further, a great way to spruce up your homemade butter is to culture the cream first, which will yield a more aromatic and complex flavor.  Buttermilk, milk kefir, or mesophilic cheese culture can all be used.  Check out our cultured butter kit and have fun!