Wednesday, 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:
  1. Fresh butter tastes like no other.
  2. It couldn't be easier to make — especially if you have a stand mixer.
  3. This was another excuse for Mary to use the stand mixer.*
  4. 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!


This is the point where the possibilities for your freshly made butter come into play:
  • 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).
This go round, we kept things simple by adding a touch of salt and spreading on a fresh piece of bread — so good.



Have you tackled making butter before or have any favorite infused versions you'd like to share with us?

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this! I tried this this afternoon and threw in some dried cranberries, a tbsp meyer lemon juice and some the zest, it was AMAZING.

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    1. Kelsey that DOES sound amazing! So many things you can do here — me just might have to try your version, sounds incredible atop of fresh muffins.

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  2. What a great idea, heavy whipping cream is on sale right now so I think I might try this, I would love to make some homemade cinnamon butter, that is good to know about the whipping cream too

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    1. Whoa - cinnamon butter sounds really good too. Would love to hear if it works out for you!

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    2. I just made some today adding both honey and cinnamon, super tasty

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  3. I left the KitchenAid unattended one time and came back to, yup, butter! Seriously.

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    1. Ah ha ha ha! Sounds like one of those good mistakes.

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  4. You can make butter from cream just by shaking it in a Ziploc container. *But*, here's the important bit: the butter separation doesn't happen until 60-something degrees. It warms up pretty fast in the mixer, but if you're using the Ziploc method, your preschooler will get tired *way* before the cream warms up enough to do its magic. (Ask me how I know...)

    Related: if you have one of those chilled bowls, you don't have to worry about accidentally making butter by overwhipping your whipped cream because you can keep it below butter-happening temp.

    Also: if you wonder why the buttermilk that you get isn't the same as the buttermilk you get in the store, there's a whole Wikipedia article on the subject. I had no idea.

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    1. Karen,

      Wow, thanks so much for all of these tips - we had no idea on the ziploc (both of us remember the good old mason jar though).

      LOVE the tip on the chilled bowl - will definitely use this next time we whip up some whipped cream :)

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  5. If you put a marble in the container you shake it'll happen a lot faster (just remember to take it out once you are done!)

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  6. If you put a marble in the container you shake it'll happen a lot faster (just remember to take it out once you are done!)

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  7. Wow, thanks for this post! I knew if I let the whipped cream go to long it would turn to butter, but I honestly never thought about doing it on purpose! I know exactly what you mean about too much heavy cream in the fridge. Plus, butter freezes just fine, so you can keep it for a good while!
    My mother makes whipped butter with orange marmalade in it as an Easter treat and serves it up on oven toasted croissants. Tasty!
    Beth

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    1. Whoa whipped butter with orange marmalade sounds so ridiculously good - what a great idea! Also, great tip on freezing the butter, thanks Beth!

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    2. ok, so you whip heavy cream to get butter... so, how do you get whipped butter??

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    3. Dena for whipped butter you technically add butter to the heavy cream and whip! This will make for a softer spread. Thanks for checking in. Good Luck!

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  8. Came across this while looking for ideas for Mother's Day Brunch. I have a great book "200 Easy Homemade Cheeses" that I got off of Amazon. It got me making lots of things that are easy, like yougart& ricotta cheese. It also has this technique for butter making as well :0) But you guys have me thinking maybe a Rosemary Butter for Biscuits! :0)

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    1. Mechelle,

      So glad you happened across our post — those biscuits sound amazing. Also, great tip on the 200 easy homemade cheeses. We haven't tried cheese yet but it's something we'd love to tackle in the future.

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  9. You can also use fresh heavy cream in your coffee and also in mashed potatoes....potato soup....lots of other uses.... no use in letting it go to waste :) but making butter that's good too, I also made some butter a few months ago with heavy whipping cream....I can almost buy butter cheaper than buying the whipping cream and then having to make butter....so I will just buy my butter from now on I think....I use heavy whipping cream in my coffee every morning.....much better than half and half....

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    1. Thanks Mona — love the idea of heavy cream in mashed potatoes and potato soup! Sounds amazing!

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  10. What is the life span of this homemade butter?

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    1. Hey Rachael — our butter was good in the fridge for about 3-4 weeks covered in plastic wrap.

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  11. I've made butter plenty of times - its actually a project I did with my preschoolers back when I was a teacher! Since I can't afford a stand mixer, I always make it the good old fashioned way - pour the cream into a large mason jar and start shaking! It takes longer but the end result is the exact same as using a mixer, and you give your arms a workout in the process!

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    1. Angela we have heard of this way also. We will have to try that next time!

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  12. I get my milk farm fresh,and separate the cream from the milk simply with a spoon,after that i also make my own butter...I love how one can do so much herself just by thinking how grandma did..people thinks im a bit nuts,why do it when you can buy it? But i´ll rather know what I eat..and im 26 years old...

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    1. I completely agree and wish I lived in a place where I could have and do more of my own with my kids like I did with my mother.

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  13. just found you guys! Love your blog! I had some extra cream in the fridge and just made butter! So excited! I put green scallions, parsley, and garlic in it.... the family is going to be so excited!

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  14. what's the best way to incorporate the salt? it's not too easy to handmix it in once i've got the butter.

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    1. I dust over some salt when the butter is ready,then I just mix arround with a fork..

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