Posted by Tim Vidra / April 4, 2012
How To: Make Homemade Butter
So yeah, we made butter. We had a healthy amount of fresh heavy cream leftover from a chicken recipe I made the other night and we rarely have/use heavy cream in our regular staples so we knew it would go bad if we didn't do something with it.
Butter was the perfect solution for many reasons:
- Fresh butter tastes like no other.
- It couldn't be easier to make — especially if you have a stand mixer.
- This was another excuse for Mary to use the stand mixer.*
- We will definitely use the butter up over the next week vs. letting the heavy cream sit and go bad.
* The stand mixer belonged to me but as you all know, I'm not really a baker so I never use it. Before Mary moved back to Richmond from Brooklyn she would tease me by telling me that when the time came for her to move in, it would mean the stand mixer would now belong to her. Now that we've lived together going on 2 1/2 years, she's maybe used the mixer 4 times, but I always look forward to the smile on her face when she brings it up from the basement — this was one of those times.
On the plus side, all you need besides heavy cream to make butter is a little salt, which is actually optional, and a stand mixer to get things going quickly.
Butter is one of those really simple foods to make — once you do it once you've got it down pat (pun intended). The goal is to completely separate the fat from liquid that's bound together in the heavy cream.
Start out the same way you would making whipped cream from scratch by pouring your heavy cream into the stand mixer and placing on a low setting to start (no measurement necessary, just use what you've got on hand). If you haven't made homemade whipped cream before, you're about to learn how in this recipe as well!
As the cream begins to thicken a little, crank on up the speed to a steady medium. Here's where it gets fun — after about 5 minutes of steady mixing you will begin to see the soft peaks of homemade whipped cream form before your eyes:
If you were making whipped cream, this is the point in time where you would incorporate sugar to taste and call it a done deal, but we're making butter here people — so keep on beating!
Speed the setting on up and the soft cream peaks will thicken and firm up into what looks like white butter, but trust me, keep on going...
That thick creamy texture is going to begin to break down into little granules:
I know this looks a little gross, but this is the consistency you are going for, just before the fat separates out:
Now just as you begin to think your butter fat is never going to separate from the liquid, all the little granules bind together in the whisk and the liquid will start splashing up from the mixer — go ahead and turn the speed down at this point. This is where your butter will begin to change over to yellow in color.
Turn the mixer off and strain the butter through a sieve — reserving the buttermilk if you so choose. Make sure to press out as much of the liquid from the butter as possible.
Rinse your butter under cold water, continuing to press and knead to get rid of excess buttermilk. You should now have a healthy handful of good old fashioned butter!
- Leave as is and use a completely natural spread on everything from fresh bread to a healthy dollop on top of a big steak.
- Incorporate salt to taste if you like salted butter (we did and went with about 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt).
- Instead of salt, infuse with blends of herbs to create herb butter.
- Infuse with garlic to make a garlic butter spread.
- Incorporate chipotles into the butter and freeze then slice — these come into play for steaks again (gotta credit this idea to my coworker who now has had me thinking about chipotle butter steaks).
- Add honey and whisk together quickly to form a thick whipped honey butter (amazing on hot biscuits for breakfast).
Have you tackled making butter before or have any favorite infused versions you'd like to share with us?