Creating seasonal recipes that are inspired by my passion for local, organic foods

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Handmade butter

Thought you couldn't make butter by hand without a churn or some sort of fancy equipment? Well, I'm here to tell ya that all you need is a little cream (heavy whipping cream), a Mason jar and lid and two hands. It will take you about 30 minutes (probably less if you don't stop to take pictures).

Let the shaking begin!

1. Collect all the necessary equipment. I highly recommend trying to find local, organic cream as the quality is much better, but you can use whatever you have on hand if need be. I'm using a pint of heavy whipping cream here and a quart jar.

Step 1

2. Leave the cream out on the counter for a while (the longer the cream sours, the less sweet the butter will be). Once the cream is warmed up to about 60 degrees then pour it into the Mason jar.

Step 2

3. Put on the lid and start shaking it. After about two minutes you'll see a nice lightly whipped cream.

Step 3

4. After about four minutes it will look like thick, whipped cream. Resist the temptation to empty the entire Mason jar into you mouth at this point. But do breathe in the heavenly, sweet scent.

Step 4

5. After about nine minutes of shaking, the cream will start to separate from the sides of the glass. Feel free to take a break.

Step 5

6. After about fourteen minutes, the whey starts separating from the butter.

Step 6

7. After about sixteen minutes, the curd is more noticeable and there's a lot more whey.

Step 7

8. At this point you can start pouring the buttermilk off. Continue shaking for a few minutes until your butter has solidified a bit more and until you aren't getting anymore buttermilk off of it.

Step 8

9. Pour out the butter into a bowl. Doesn't this look like ice cream?

Step 9

10. Pour cold water over the butter and start "massaging" the butter with a spatula to rinse the rest of the buttermilk out. Continue replacing the water until the water stays clear. Drain.

Step 10

Mold your butter into butter molds or into ramekins. You will also end up with a scant cup of buttermilk (depending on how "juicy" your cream is).

Butter and buttermilk

Voila! Butter. In less than thirty minutes.


Deborah Dowd said...

what a fun acivity for kids (using a plastic container, of course!)and you get to eat the results-a little kitchen science is educational and delicious!

karen said...

I can't believe it's that easy to make butter. Well done! I was wondering if you know how to make yogurt without a yogurt maker or thermometer? Or the lowest-tech way possible?

thanks, I love reading your blogs -

cindy24 said...

I am so excited to try that. Just need to get some cream today and have the kids shake away... Will let you know how it turns out.

Theresa said...

I remember trying to do this with the little half-and-half creamers at restaurants as a kid. I was always disappointed that it didn't work! Now I get to try it out as a big kid, and enjoy the results!

cindy24 said...

OK - made some and kids made me do all the shaken. Was so excited. Butter is soooo good. Tried it again when my friend came over and I shook too much and the whey went back into the solid. Now I have a thick lump of unknown. Did I make something or just ruin the butter?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detailed instruction! My husband and daughter helped and we used it on bread at dinner. Definitely less expensive than buying the sticks.

Anonymous said...

Crunchy Greenola, I do know how to make yogurt without a yogurt maker, but it does require a thermometer to make sure it's the right temperature for the yogurt cultures to do their thing:

Maybe some people can tell by touch how hot the milk should be. I need a thermometer.

Hellcat13 said...

Hey Crunchy -

Thanks SO much for posting this. Me and my hubby just made our butter (and in under 15 minutes! - but we didn't stop to take pictures :)). He was absolutely enthralled with the entire process and is very gung-ho about doing this more often. He doesn't want to buy butter anymore - just cream to make our own. I guess I better start looking for some recipes so that I can use the buttermilk.b

Anonymous said...

Crunchy greenola--

I make yogurt in a cooler, and the way I go about it doesn't use a thermometer, although you certainly could use one (and maybe should). This recipe uses 2 quarts of milk and an 8oz container of yogurt with live cultures (I use Dannon usually). I heat the milk to nearly boiling and then set it aside to cool--this is the part where, if you have a thermometer, use it. You want the milk NO HOTTER than 130F. For me, this feels a little hot on the fingertips, but nothing like scorching. I then combine the milk and starter yogurt by putting the yogurt into a bowl and whisking an equal portion of milk in to thin it, then whisking in the remainder of the milk. Pour the milk into 2 quart jars (mason jars are good), and put them into a small cooler. Run your faucet water as hot as it will go--in our house, we've got the water heater set just over 120F, which is great. Just nothing over 130F (which is too hot for a water heater to be set at anyway). Fill the cooler until it's level with the yogurt in the jars (leave jars uncovered). Close the cooler, set somewhere you won't jostle it, and ignore for about 5-8 hours. Come back and see how it's done. Lid the jars, place in fridge to chill, and enjoy!

Anonymous said...

A note about making butter:

Be sure to wash it (that water-massaging step) really really well! This is what gets the last little bits of water out of the butterfat; leftover water in the butter will cause the butter to go rancid faster. Also, at the end of the washing step you can add salt, which also extends the life of the butter. Unless, of course, you live at my house and fresh butter lasts for, oh, I dunno, 'bout 28 minutes...

karen said...

thanks, jedimomma - I'll give it a try!

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

yay - we did it. made it a family project and everyone got a turn shaking. it took us a bit longer that way, but it still worked. thank you! :) now i need to make some fresh bread this afternoon so we can eat it up!

Leila Abu-Saba said...

re: yogurt without a thermometer. My dad was Lebanese and I grew up watching him make yogurt (all my aunties did, too); I also used to make it myself as a teenager. No thermometers ever.

The Lebanese way to test the temperature: stick your (clean) index finger into the milk and count. If you have to pull it out before ten, it's still too hot. If you can keep it in much longer than a count of ten, it's too cold.

However I am not too sure about how *fast* you count. Faster than one per second, I am certain of that.

This measure seems very imprecise to me. With yogurt it's about "feel" and you also have to live with inconsistency. Sometimes it's thinner, sometimes it's sweeter or more sour.

I haven't had success making yogurt as an adult, possibly because I've used 2%, when we only used whole milk as a child. If you use 2% you probably have to add non-fat dry milk solids blah blah. Boring.

However those plastic yogurt cartons make me feel so guilty. I reuse them but they really pile up. If I were making my own yogurt the way I did as a teenager, I'd do it in a Pyrex casserole with a glass lid. This little sub-thread might inspire me to try it again - with whole milk!

Theresa said...

Wow! I just tried the butter making and it is SO easy and delicious!

Unknown said...

I've been enjoying your blog a great deal!

I'm the food and cooking editor at Mother Earth News magazine, and I thought your readers might enjoy checking out our home pages on REAL FOOD, SUSTAINABLE FARMING and ORGANIC GARDENING.

Thanks for all the great content!

Almostima said...

Thank you for the inspiration. My husband and I made the butter today and used the buttermilk and butter to make delicious buttermilk pancakes.
Fun AND rewarding :)

Anonymous said...

Cool! I am going to try this....and now I know where buttermilk comes from! (How tragic is this generation!? We don't know these rudimentary things about the very food we eat. )
Thanks so much.
(I've made butter several times (not properly) before by accident when getting too carried away with whipping the cream!)

Anonymous said...

Hi Deanna,

Did you know you can also do this using two ziploc bags? I know I know, plastic... but the kids can throw the bags back and forth across the kitchen for half an hour and if it drops, no biggie.

You put the cream inside the inner bag, seal it, then seal the outer bag too.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post! It is always wonderful to see families working together in the kitchen to make something from scratch. I teach cooking classes to kids, and they love to make butter. With preschoolers (who have a hard time waiting to take their turn at shaking the cream), you can even do this with a hand mixer, immersion blender or traditional blender. Faster results, and they love to feel the vibration of the tools in their little hands! If the weather is nice, you can also do this in a small jar, wrapped in dish rags, stuffed inside a coffee can. Take the contraption outside and play soccer with it for awhile and voila - butter :-)

Rachelle said...

This is SO yummy!!! I salted mine just a little and it's was a lot of work but great exercise for the biceps! :)

Robj98168 said...

COuldn't you just put the cream in a stnd mixer? My grandmother was a whipped creme nazi-she would shun you if you let the whipped creme tourn to butter~:P my mom always used the stand mixer to make butter

The Savvy Green Shopper said...

I saw a reference to your post on Recycle Your Day blog and came over to learn how to make this butter. I finished a bit ago and my 7 y.o. daughter helped with the shaking. It's soooo delicious! We used organic heavy whipping cream and it's so yummy on fresh bread. Tomorrow we'll put it on some french toast. Thanks so much for all the details and for sharing. Great blog!

mrs.missalaineus said...

i am making butter with my students for our thanksgiving fellowship feast where we also make 'stone soup'

Unknown said...

i shook for three hours and never got beyond the image from the 14-minute mark. what am i doing wrong?

Anonymous said...

I recently bought pouring cream (packaging shows picture of the cream being poured into soup), and it was not labeled 'whipping' anywhere on the box. Nevertheless, the fat content is written 36%.
I tried some using shaking -the -jar method and was quite surprised at how fast the cream turned grainy. But soon afterward I ended up with a very soft 'butter' without the thin buttermilk. I did not come to a stage where the fat clumps together surrounded in buttermilk.
It wont shake anymore at this stage so I cannot shake any further. It tasted like butter though but only very little buttermilk come out like droplets on the surface. I'm not sure if this is butter or whether i should use a mixer.

::Sylvia:: said...

Great tutorial, just linked to ya. :)

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

I remember doing this as a kid at Brownie Day camp. We sat in a circle and each took a turn shaking the jar while we sang a song about churning butter or something. I hope the singing in your method is optional - I don't remember the song.

Anonymous said...

Do you think this would work in a blender? I have a Blendtec that's supposed to be able to whip something into oblivion. I'll bet I could have butter in under a minute if I used the high speed. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Yes I have been making butter for nearly 20 years. I use my blender on high. Within less than 5 minutes I have butter. My husband is a dairy farmer so I skim the cream off our milk after it has sat for awhile since cream rises.I've started making my own sour cream.

Becky said...

thanks for the memory..we did this in Mrs Campbell's fourth grade class, that was about 53 years ago! She had brought all the ingredients, including saltines so we could taste the butter...I still remember the day vividly!

Anonymous said...

Im going to try this

creationsbycasey said...

My boys and I( mostly I) did this today. Turned out great! We added honey to the butter immediately after mixing. A wonderful after homeschool snack:) thanks!

Lyric said...

Aww sookie, sookie now. I am SO GLAD you posted this AND that it is still available on the WWW.

May I please have your permission to put this on my farm web page AND give credit and link back to you.

Thank you, thank you.

Lee and Lyric
Hip Hillbilly Farm

Anonymous said...

S and Anonymous, maybe you used homogenised cream? That's the name the process is given in the UK anyway. The cream has been mechanically forced through tiny holes. This purposely damages the protein chains to make sure the cream has consistent texture (avoiding that the thicker cream will rise to the top of the packaging). When you make butter you are trying to cause the protein to coagulate, so if you're using homogenised milk it's never going to happen. I don't know if it's called the same name in the States. Usually the more longer lasting/cheaper/commercialised brands will have this treatment. Organic/farm cream is less likely. In Europe at least they have to state whether the cream has had this treatment.