Sunday, March 17, 2013

make some butter

I really love making butter. It seems magical to me. The process of transformation from cream to butter is always exciting; alchemical. If you find yourself with a glut of cream that you don't know what to with, this is the project for you. I advise you to recruit a friend or two to help you shake the cream; your arms will be very tired if you do this on your own.

Put heavy cream (whipping cream) in a mason jar or any container that you can easily shake that has a good seal. Anything that might pop open and spray cream everywhere is a bad idea. 

After a couple minutes of shaking, the cream will take on the texture of a heavy, dense whipped cream. Keep shaking.

In a couple more minutes the cream will clump together into one big lump. Keep shaking.

In a couple more minutes, milk will begin to pour out of that solid lump. Your jar now will contain some solid lumps that look a little like scrambled eggs sitting in milk. You made butter! Keep shaking a bit more, you need to smash as much milk out of your butter as possible. Then strain off the milk. You can use that for whatever you like, it's just milk. Even though it is buttermilk (milk leftover in the butter making process) it is not buttermilk like you would buy in the store, which contains special cultures, so you can't substitute it for that kind of buttermilk.

Run very cold water and massage your butter in the running water. You want to get all the remaining out as milk will spoil the butter faster. Once the water runs clear, remove the butter from the stream of water and squeeze it a bit more to get as much water out as possible. I wrap my butter in parchment or waxed paper and freeze it at this point, but you can store it in a glass container in the fridge as well. Salting it will make it last longer; you can work a pinch of salt into the butter with a spatula in a small bowl or massage it in with your fingers.

Ta da! It's butter. 

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