I always make butter with raw cream from local, grass-fed Jersey cows; however, you can use pasteurized heavy cream from the grocery store.
How your butter turns out depends on several factors, some of which are beyond me. I do know that the grass that the cows eat between milkings affects the taste, texture, and quality of the butter. So, don’t expect the same product every time. Sometimes the butter sticks to my hands when I’m working it and other times it’s as though I have silicone on my hands.
I quart of cream will make 6-8 oz butter.
You can make butter immediately when you skim the fresh cream from the milk or you can let it sit in the refrigerator for several days. It will thicken as time goes on-just the nature of the product. If you want to make cultured butter (from soured cream), let is sit in the refrigerator until it turns slightly sour. Cultured butter is great for sautéing or adding to dishes.
I use a blender, but you can just shake in a jar with a lid or use a food processor. I spent many hours as a child painfully churning butter in an old-fashioned paddle churn, so I am most happy to have a fast, pain free method.
Pour cream into blender and allow to sit at room temperature until cream temperature is at least 55 degrees. It’s fine if it gets to room temperature. I don’t use more than one quart in the blender at a time to prevent overflow.
Turn blender on low to medium speed and allow to churn until it thickens and turns to butter. This is another one of those variables – sometimes it happens within a few minutes, other times it can take up to 10 minutes. When the cream thickens, it may cause the motor to whine. If this bothers you, stop the motor and with a spatula, release the air bubble trapped at the bottom and restart the motor. This can happen several times or not at all. As the cream turns to butter, it will appear as yellow pebbles in milk. Continue to blend until the butter portion is more consolidated and well separated from the buttermilk.
Pour butter and buttermilk in a bowl. With very clean, wet hands, gently work the butter so that all solids are compacted together. Then pour off the buttermilk – we’ll come back to it later.
Pour cold, filtered water into the bowl and gently kneed the butter to remove the remaining buttermilk. Pour off the water and repeat until the water is clear.
Drain remaining water – this can be messy and hard to do without losing some of the butter. I just pour off the water using my hand to keep the butter in the bowl. You can drain it in a coffee filter. I choose not to do this – I don’t mind that my butter has some water content.
Step 6 (optional)
Add sea salt or Himalyan Rock Salt to taste. I don’t do this because I salt the dishes in which I use the butter so see this as an extraneous step.
Place the butter in a glass container of choice and refrigerate. I use 6-8 oz glass custard dishes, some with lids. After the butter is cold and solid, you can remove it from the bowl and put in a vacuum bag and seal, if you want to freeze for longer term use.
Butter can be kept at room temperature in a butter dish or maintained in the refrigerator. It can last a long time – I’ve never thrown any out because it went bad. If it sours a bit, just re-name it “cultured butter” and use it in dishes.
Now what to do with the buttermilk--
If you want to make cultured buttermilk, you can use this product or use sweet milk with a culture added. The latter makes a product which is more consistent with what you buy in the grocery store but using the leftovers from making butter makes great biscuits.
So, if you want to use the leftovers, put the buttermilk in a jar (size depends on how much you have), add store-bought cultured buttermilk (1/2c to 3 1/2c for a quart) and leave on the counter at room temperature until it separates into semi-solids and liquid. Remove to refrigerator. This will last for months but will sour as time goes on. This product is also useful to sprout grains i.e., when making pancakes.
If you aren’t interested in making cultured buttermilk, give it to your pets and farm animals. I feed it to my dog and chickens. My greyhound, Maggie, who is now in doggie heaven, would listen for the sounds of butter making and would stand in the kitchen watching my every move waiting for her buttermilk! And if you feed it to the chickens, you get all those nutrients back in your eggs. If you don’t have animals, pour it in your compost bin.
Last but not least – a cleaning tip: fill blender ½ full of hot water, add a few drops of detergent and blend on low for 15-30 sec. Voila! The hard part is done.
Enjoy in good health!!