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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Butter Making: Grandma Club Part Deux


Grandma Club convened last Saturday to try our hands at making butter. The process was surprisingly easy and everything went smoothly, mostly due to the fact that by the end, the entire kitchen was lubricated with butter. We tried two methods of butter making: The Mixer Method and The Jar Method. 

To begin making your own butter, you'll need cream. You want to look for cream that has in the list of ingredients on the side nothing else other than cream. Avoid mixtures with carrageenan, a seaweed extract, or any similar additives. Whatever volume of cream you start out with, you will render half that much butter and half that much buttermilk. Noel started with 2 quarts of cream and Kathy and I had one quart each.

The Mixer Method
For mixer-made butter, we used the whisk attachment of a stand mixer. Pour in one pint of cream and mix on high. The cream will go through various stages of hardening up- first to thicker cream, then to whipped cream, then to thick whipped cream and finally, it will separate into butter curds and buttermilk. Stop the mixer intermittently to scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure even mixing. We found the running the mixer at medium speed in the early stages cut down on the splatter factor.

The Jar Method
We had some quart sized Ball canning jars left over from our Canning Party; so we decided to try to make butter using them as shakers. It worked really well and was just a fast [or slow] as the mixer method. Pour in half a pint of cream to a quart jar and shake until you reach a thick cream stage. Then add in an agitator, like a marble (we used grapes because that's what we had on hand) and continue shaking. The cream will go through the same stages as in the mixer recipe and will eventually separate.

Once you have reached the separation stage, the process becomes the same for both methods. Use a wooden spoon to clump the butter curds together and pour off the buttermilk into a container for later use. Put the butter curds into a bowl or use the mixer bowl. Then, add in cold water and squish the butter around in it. This is known as washing the butter. The water will become cloudy with leftover bits of buttermilk. Pour off this water/milk mixture and repeat the washing process until the water is clear after you've squished the butter around in it. You want to remove all of the buttermilk from the butter because the buttermilk would cause the butter to turn rancid quickly.

When your butter is all washed, form it into a lump with your spoon making sure to squeeze all the water out of it. From here, you may flavor your butter with any number of items (we've got some recipes below) or simply enjoy it as is. There are many types of butter molds available, but you can just wrap it up in wax paper if you like. We lined some small rectangular boxes with wax paper and molded our butter in them. We let them harden in the freezer and then cut sticks out of them and wrapped those up in the wax paper. The butter should keep up to 3 months in the freezer or in the fridge about one week. 

We really enjoyed ourselves, although Noel was tuckered out by the end of it with all the shaking and washing. It's a really work-out for the arms. We each ended up with about 2 cups of butter and 2/3 a quart of buttermilk. It cost about $8.60 each- pretty much what you would pay in the store for fancy butter and buttermilk. It took us about 4 hours from start to finish, but that would probably be faster if we did it a second time.

There are more pictures of the process at my Grandma Club photo collection.

The Recipes
Garlic-Lemon Butter
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
Dash pepper

Cinnamon Butter
Pint [3/4 cup] of butter
1 1/2 tbs ground cinnamon

Vanilla-Sugar Butter
12 tbs butter
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbs vanilla

Salted Butter
Pint [3/4 cup] of butter
1/2 tsp salt*

*That was probably still too much salt, but I've been using it on things you would put salt and butter on like pasta, potatoes, and corn-on-the-cob.


Blogger kelly said...

I've always wondered about this -- thanks for sharing your experience.

Meanwhile, the question I had when I finished reading all of this was: "How did it taste?" Sooo... how was it?

Friday, November 21, 2008  
Blogger Blondie ~ Vintage Primitives said...

sounds like a stellar way to spend time with friends.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009  

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