Many people live within 10 minutes of a grocery store. That means within one-half hour they could have sticks or a tub of butter sitting in their refrigerator waiting to be used.
But what fun is that?
Some people who prefer the do-it-yourself style of living love to make their own butter at home. For one thing, it saves money. For another, it tastes great. And finally, it enhances your feelings of independence and self-reliance.
If you’ve been avoiding this because you think it would take up too much time, think again. It might be a smaller time commitment than driving back and forth to the supermarket.
If you’ve never considered putting the time into homemade butter, I recommend reading this blog post. You may never buy butter at a grocery store again.
Aim for Organic Cream
First of all, the cream you acquire for your homemade butter should be organic and should come from pastured cows. You will get much richer and sweeter tasting cream if it’s from grass-fed cows than those that have been fed hay only or a bunch of genetically-modified stuff. And if you can get your cream from a small, local farm, all the better.
If your cream is at room temperature, it will be easier to work with. Pour it into a food processor, but don’t fill it. About half-full is best.
An example would be a quart of cream in a 12-cup processor. This will end up giving you about one pound of butter plus about two cups of buttermilk.
Time out for a moment. You don’t have to use a food processor if you don’t want to. Some people prefer to manually shake a container of cream until it accomplishes the same task.
But it’s pretty much guaranteed that your arm will get very tired. So, the recommendation here is a processor.
Separating Butter from Buttermilk
With the lid secured, start up the food processor at a medium speed and watch the cream thicken as it turns into whipped cream. After about five to 10 minutes, the milk solids and the buttermilk will start to separate, with the butter being easily distinguishable because it will become stiffer with peaks, and more yellow.
Now, place a fine mesh sieve over a mixing bowl and pour the contents of the food processor over it. The buttermilk that ends up in the mixing bowl can be used for something else, such as for cooking, baking or maybe even drinking.
You can now rinse the curds of butter that did not go through the sieve with ice-cold water while slowly moving them around with a wooden spoon. The butter will continue to stiffen and clump together.
This “cleaning” process is an important step. Ridding your butter of the remaining buttermilk will help your butter last longer. Pressing the butter with a hard spatula will allow more buttermilk to seep down. The cleaner the butter is, the longer it will last, so repeat the process several times if necessary.
Feeling Salty? Go for it!
Salt has gotten a bad name in recent years, but it is a great preservative. Sprinkle a little into your butter. Taste it to see if it needs a little more, but don’t overdo it because then it will be too late. A fine-grain salt will mix in better than a flaky sea salt, but you may prefer the taste of the latter.
Now, wrap your butter in plastic wrap, foil or parchment paper and then place it in an airtight container such as a glass jar. You can keep it refrigerated for a week or so.
Sorry, it won’t stay good much longer than that because it does not include any preservatives. Another option is to stick it in the freezer, where it should last for about six months.
This whole process will not take you more than about 10 to 15 minutes. And now you have a sweet, creamy spread that everybody in your family can enjoy.
In addition to having homemade butter ready to spread on bread, crackers, muffins, dinner rolls or other food items, you can use your homemade butter as fat for cooking. And you didn’t have to travel to the grocery store and pay too much for it.
Is It Healthy?
Some people are understandably concerned about their fat intake and cholesterol levels. While you probably don’t want to eat an over-abundance of your homemade butter (or of anything else, for that matter), remember that it provides some important nutrients.
For example, this type of butter is high in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a beneficial fatty acid that is said to protect against some forms of cancer. It has been proven to lower total cholesterol levels in animals.
Also, it contains high levels of Vitamin E and beta-carotene. And where else are you going to get this kind of rich, creamy taste without a bunch of potentially harmful additives and preservatives?
Butter got a bad name a while back from the medical community. But many of those naysayers have come around and admitted that butter is much better for you than margarine.
Your homemade butter will taste delicious as is, regardless what you spread it on. But if you want to spice things up with a portion of that butter you just made, here are two suggestions:
- Soften your butter in a heated pan and stir in a few spices, garlic, chives, herbs, etc. Then pour it onto foods you have cooked, such as steamed vegetables, pancakes, fish or steak.
- Mix dried fruit into your softened butter and wait until it cools. Then pour it onto parchment paper, roll it up into a log form and put it in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to eat it.
Your homemade butter is going to taste better than store-bought butter. And you’re going to feel better about yourself after using the DIY method. It’s just one more step on the path to self-sufficiency.