Tuesday, January 19, 2010


When I was in kindergarten our class made butter from scratch.  We took turns churning heavy cream throughout the class period until the cream became thick, and we spread it on graham crackers for snack time.  Now that I've actually made butter from scratch, I realize that the kindergarten concoction was really over-whipped cream, but the memory of eating our own creamy creation has stayed with me and inspired me to try the real deal!  This recipe is a great way to use up that extra whipping cream sitting in your fridge.  Supposedly you can use cream that has begun to turn, but I think that sounds kind of gross and I recommend using delicious fresh cream.  There is something satisfying about crafting basic ingredients by hand.  I like to get carried away and imagine life as a local dairy farmer churning out fresh butter and specialty cheeses to sell to foodies around the world!  Luckily, you don't have to be a dairy farmer to make your own butter (or your own cheese, but that will be a future post).  Read on!


Heavy cream (any amount - I used about a cup)
Ice water (for washing)
1/4 t. salt per cup of heavy cream (if you want salted butter)

Beat That Butter!

Place the heavy cream in a bowl and whip on high speed.  You can use a hand mixer or a stand mixer, but if you have one I recommend using the stand mixer with a splash guard.  I only had a hand mixer, so I enlisted a volunteer to hold a towel around the bowl to prevent the cream from flying all over me and my kitchen.  Keep whipping the cream.  Keeeeep whipping.... The cream will pass soft peaks, firm peaks, curdled stage....keep it up... At between five and ten minutes the cream will "break," i.e. it will separate into a solid and a liquid: butter and buttermilk!  Whip a minute or so past the break, and then take a spatula and press the butter into one large ball.  Squish it against the side of the bowl to remove as much buttermilk as possible, and then carefully pour the buttermilk into a separate container (save for use in pancakes!). 

Now you need to wash the butter to remove the rest of the buttermilk residue.  You can eat the butter without washing it, but it will last much longer if you follow this washing procedure: pour some ice water into the butter, and mix on high speed for a minute.  The water will become cloudy.  Pour the cloudy water down the sink and repeat until the water is relatively clear.  Squish the butter to get as much water out as you can, pour it off, and add the salt.  Mix on low speed to incorporate.  Viola! Fresh salted butter for your butter crock!

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