I never gave much thought to how butter is made. Until I learned how to make butter, and then I was amazed how simple it is. It is so incredibly simple I almost immediately went out and bought some cream and began making my own batch of butter. You only need one ingredient to make butter. Heavy cream. You can add salt if you want to make salted butter but it's not necessary.
Why would you want to make your own butter? Well, because it's fun! It's been a gloomy January here in northern Washington and butter making is a fun rainy day activity your can involve your kids in. You also know exactly what is in your butter if you make it yourself. You have the option of using organic or raw cream from a local dairy if you like.
Is it cheaper to make your own butter? Maybe. It depends how much the dairy you are using costs and if it is cheaper than buying a stick of butter on its own. If you can get a good deal on cream and buy a large quantity you can make a lot of butter and freeze it until you are ready to use it. Homemade butter will last about a week in the fridge and 6-8 months in the freezer.
So how do you make butter anyways?
Take a pint of heavy cream and let it warm up to room temperature. Just place it on your counter until it's warm enough. Pour it in your food processor. Process for about 10 minutes and you will have butter!
As the cream starts blending it will look like whipped cream first. Then after a few more minutes it will suddenly form buttery chunks surrounded by liquid. The liquid is buttermilk. Once you get to this stage drain the buttermilk and save it for other baking projects like pancakes or biscuits. Rinse the butter and then use a spatula to transfer is to a glass or metal container.
|It will look like whipped cream first|
|...then it will separate into butter and buttermilk|
If adding salt mix in 1/4 teaspoon before transferring it into the container. Really press the butter in firmly and squeeze out any remaining liquid. It's ready to use right away or store in the fridge or freezer. If you are going to freeze your butter, let it cool in the fridge until it's a little more firm then you can roll it in wax paper and transfer to the freezer.
In the grocery stores in my community your can't find "heavy cream" but they all sell whipping cream. It is essentially the same thing. The milk fat can vary quite a bit in different types of cream. In general you want to use cream with fat at least 30%. That said, the cream I bought did not list the fat percent on the container and it worked fine.
Another point I should cover is pasteurization. Some of the instructions I read on butter making said not to use ultra pasteurized cream. Unfortunately this was all I could find. Supposedly Ultra pasteurized cream will take a long time to blend into butter and won't taste as good. From my experience it only took less than 10 minutes to make the butter and it tastes fine but a bit bland. If I make another batch I will seek out whipping cream that is not ultra pasteurized to compare the taste.
Have you ever made butter before? How did it turn out?