Homemade Butter

I love making things for myself.  I love making my own food, my own cleaning products, and various other household items.  Trouble is, it’s really hard to find the time.  Weeknights are tough because it’s such a rush to get home, get food on the table, and get the kids bathed and ready for bed.  Weekends are tough, too, because all of those household chores we didn’t have time for during the week need to get done in two short days.

It’s so hard to find a balance.

Butter making, though, is so fast that we’ve even done it on a weeknight!  It’s exciting, too, because it really does require teamwork and you end up with a delicious finished product that the whole family can enjoy right away.

Here’s what you need to get started:

This truly is all you need: Heavy whipping cream and a jar.

Heavy whipping cream (I choose to use organic, but you don’t have to) and a jar.

That’s it.  No lie.  That’s all you need.

To get started, pour the cream into the jar.  Don’t overfill the jar.  You’ll see why in a little bit.  About halfway full is plenty full.

It’s really important not to overfill your jar here because the milk will expand in a major way.

Seal your jar tightly so that the cream doesn’t leak out and then…

Start Shaking!

You will need to shake and shake and shake.  This is where the teamwork comes in.  Be ready to pass the jar as your arm gets tired.  The more kids you can pass to the better.

Shake, shake, shake that cream!

Delicious whipped cream

You’ll notice as you and your teammates shake the jar that the cream seems to grown and grow and expand.  What you are doing at this point is making whipped cream.  For the sake of teaching, we stopped partway through so I could snap a picture.

Now I love whipped cream.  It’s delicious.  And this whipped cream is extra yummy because of the little hands that helped make it.  If you want to stop here and start dipping fresh strawberries, I can understand that.  But please believe me when I say that you are almost there.

This part really worried me the first time I made butter. I was worried that since the jar was so full, I wouldn’t be able to shake it anymore, so I divided into two jars before continuing. Subsequent butter-making has shown that this isn’t necessary. It may not feel like you’re doing much when you’re shaking, but the cream is moving around enough to continue the butter making process.

As you continue to shake shake shake, you will notice a subtle shift in the color.  No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you.  It’s starting to turn yellowish.  At this point, the fluffy whipped cream will start to collapse and shrink down onto itself and shaking will become easier.

The whipped cream is collapsing and turning yellowish.

You are so close to having butter at this point!

Keep shaking!

Within a minute or so, the sound inside the jar will start to change from a shake shake shake sound to a slosh slosh slosh sound.  For us, this is the most exciting part!  This is when the cream starts to “break” into the solid butter and the liquid butter milk.

You can see that the cream is starting to separate into butter solid and butter milk.

Don’t stop now!  Keep on shaking!  You guys are so close!

You want the solids and the liquid to really separate.  You will know when this happens because the solids will form a nice ball in the liquid.

The butter has formed into a nice yellow ball with the while liquid buttermilk around it.

Now you need to drain the butter milk off. I just use a mesh strainer over another jar, but most folks recommend using cheesecloth if you have it. Be sure to gently squeeze all of that excess butter milk off of your ball of butter.

Drain all of that butter milk away from the butter solid.

Hang onto this leftover milk!  I use it to make some delicious pancakes the next morning.  Something to keep in mind, though, that I learned:  Buttermilk  that you buy in the store is something different.  Here’s a Wikipedia article that explains the difference between the traditional butter milk that we have just made and cultured buttermilk which is available in stores.  Basically, the stuff in the store is fermented and sour tasting and the stuff we’ve just made isn’t.  Still, this butter milk that Gabi and I have leftover from our butter making made yummy “buttermilk” pancakes.

Once you’ve drained off the butter milk, you can salt or season the butter as you desire.  Since it’s so soft, now would be the perfect time to add in some fresh herbs or some garlic.  Yum!

You can eat the butter right away on some crackers or bread.  It’s soft and will spread like a dream!  Or you can refridgerate it and save it for later which is what we did.

Total time for this project?  15 minutes.  Told you it was fast!

Beautiful, fresh butter

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