February 15, 2010

Butter Me Up - Fresh Homemade Butter

Fresh creamy butter. Preferably unsalted, or with a soupçon to bring the rich flavour to life. Spread over hot hot hot toast, just the right shade of brown and satisfyingly thick. Each bite an audible crunch, crumbs flying everywhere but on the plate. Is there anything more gloriously simple than homemade butter?

I have been inspired of late to try my hand at making things that I used to buy off the shelf.  Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle is chock full of inspiration for everything from cheese making to raising chickens. And while I have yet to make yogurt,  Daniel Patterson's journey to make fresh butter seemed too easy to ignore.  

Fresh Homemade Butter
yields about 2 lbs of butter, plus approx 2 cups of buttermilk

Start with 6 cups of high quality organic 35% cream.  I use  Harmony Organic, a local producer whose cream is so thick that there's always a big dollop at the top of the bottle.

Put the cream in a bowl for a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap.  Whip on speed 6 for a Kitchen Aid mixer (or medium high), for 10 to 15 minutes. 

As the cream passes the "whipped" state, it will start to separate and form liquid. At the point where liquid from the bowl starts splashing against the plastic wrap, and the cream becomes pale yellow and pebbly, turn off the mixer - you're almost done.

Strain the solids, catching the liquid in a bowl, and leave them in the strainer. That liquid is fresh buttermilk! Get out your favourite scone or soup recipe.   Restrain the buttermilk with a fine mesh sieve and set it aside.  You'll add more to this cache of rich goodness in a few minutes.


Knead the solids over a bowl, expelling and capturing any remaining liquid.  Continue kneading, for about five minutes, or until the butter is dense, creamy and smooth.  If you prefer salted butter, at this stage, add a ½ tsp of fine sea salt, and knead until incorporated throughout.  Strain the remaining liquid through a fine mesh sieve and add to your reserved buttermilk cache.  Place the buttermilk in a clean container and pop it in the fridge to get icy cold.

Smooth the butter into a container with an airtight lid.  And there you have it - simple, delicious butter, ready to be used and enjoyed. 

It gives a whole new meaning to whipping something up in the kitchen...