Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Homemade Butter

Making Butter from Raw Cream

When our family was deciding whether or not to go with a raw milk share, one of my considerations was, “Can I make butter?”  I figured if a got a stick or two out of each gallon, it would lessen the pain of $6/gallon for milk.  I happened to see regular old whipping cream on sale; the store was trying to get rid of its after-Christmas excess.  I grabbed a pint and ran a test.  It was a success!  In spite of the fact that a cup of cream doesn’t make a lot of butter, we went with the raw milk.

I was explaining some benefits of raw milk to my brother, and I added, “I can even make butter from the cream!”  He gave me the most bewildered look.  I could tell immediately that he was picturing an old-fashioned butter churn and probably thinking his big sis had really gone off the deep end this time, and I deadpanned, “Yeah, the first step is to put on my bonnet and apron…”

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Here are the (seriously) easy steps to making your own butter:

I’ll include the detailed explanations below so you’re totally comfortable with making butter, but it’s basically:  blend/food process cream until it separates.  Strain buttermilk and press it out of butter.  Rinse, pat dry, store.  Simple!!

Tools needed: strainer, cream, blender (or food processor), wooden spoon

Tools needed: strainer, cream, blender (or food processor), wooden spoon

  1. Skim some cream off the top of your milk.  I take about a cup off each gallon.  Be sure to leave a lot of cream to mix in, too – whole fats are best for your family!
  2. Allow cream to sit on the counter for at least 30-60 minutes.  Longer is fine, as long as you’re using raw milk.  It’s even okay overnight – it will thicken up and sour a little, but the flavor is quite nice in butter.  If you make butter with cold cream, it still works fine but will take considerably longer to separate.
  3. Put the cream in a blender or food processor.  Even a mini food processor (mine is literally less than 2 cup capacity) will do the job.
  4. Turn it on.  High, low, whatever.  This is not rocket science!  The only goal is to “shake up” the butter.

    img_6180

    Just blending a liquid...there's the big hole in the middle (vortex).

  5. Within about a minute – enough time to wipe down your blender and counter – you’ll see a nice whipped cream consistency:
    The whipped cream consistency

    The whipped cream consistency

    img_6182

    See how the vortex all but disappears as the cream thickens?

  6. After another minute…or less…you’ll hear the sound of the implement change from working through the thick, whipped cream to spinning around in the buttermilk while the butter bounces around.  Take a peek:

    Butter is separated -- almost finished!

    Butter is separated -- almost finished!

  7. Blend/process a few more seconds until the butter is easily pushed apart from the buttermilk with a wooden spoon.  It will clump together a little, but don’t expect to see a single glob of butter waiting for you. Let it run long enough to really separate – sometimes it takes a while, so don’t be discouraged.
    See how the sides are even cleaner?  The butter is slightly more solid.  Ready to go!

    See how the sides are even cleaner? The butter is slightly more solid. Ready to go!

    Easy to scoop out and beautiful!

    Easy to scoop out and beautiful!

  8. Pour the buttermilk through a strainer and catch the buttermilk in a measuring cup.  One like a screen is best.

    The butter as it looks after just being dumped into the strainer.

    The butter as it looks after just being dumped into the strainer.

  9. Begin to press and smush the butter with your wooden spoon to get all the buttermilk out.  The more you can get pressed out, the longer your butter will last without souring.  (I end up scraping the bottom of the screen and putting that butter back in the top.)
  10. Rinse with cold water and repeat!  You’ll be amazed at how when you think there can’t possibly be a drop of buttermilk left in your utterly smashed butter, one will eek out just to laugh at you.

    "Ha, ha, ha!" laughs the drop of buttermilk.

    "Ha, ha, ha!" laughs the drop of buttermilk.

  11. I tried for the first time hand-squeezing the butter, after reading this post this week.  It’s fun!  My hands felt deliciously smooth afterward, and I hated that I had to use soap to get all the butter off.
  12. Use a paper towel or clean tea towel to pat the butter dry.

    This is how much butter I made from 3+ cups cream, minus what I whipped up with cinnamon.

    This is how much butter I made from 3+ cups cream, minus what I whipped up with cinnamon.

Look at the beautiful yellow color!  When I did my “test run” with store-bought cream, it was completely white.  My husband rolled his eyes and laughed at me when I made my first raw cream butter, because I shrieked with delight and did a little happy-feet-dance:  yellow butter!  You know that’s good stuff!!

Storage and Tips:
  • Adding salt increases the shelf life. (No source on this, it’s completely hearsay!)
  • Store in the fridge, freezer or on the counter. Half-cup portions are wise for the freezer – they’re recipe ready. Be aware of leaving it too long on the counter. I’ve never kept my little half cup tubs around longer than a week, so I don’t know the actual shelf life!
  • You can overblend, so don’t leave the room. I used to teach the Little House series to third graders, and we made butter by shaking a little container of cream by hand. Each student would pass off the cup after 60 seconds of shaking to the next person in their team of four. It took at least twice around the table, and I do remember some teams getting butter, thinking it wasn’t done, then shaking some more and ending up with the buttermilk all whipped back in and very soft butter that didn’t taste as good.
  • I get about 1/3 cup butter and 2/3 cups buttermilk from a cup of cream, maybe even less. It’s worth it to have at least 2 cups at a time so you’re not washing your blender for a measly 1/3 cup of butter! I tested freezing the cream first, and it works just fine to make the butter, too…now I can make a big batch once a month or so and do even fewer dishes!
  • Note: the “buttermilk” you get from making butter is totally different in consistency and content than storebought buttermilk. It works fine as an ingredient in waffles, pancakes, biscuits, etc, but is closer to substituting for plain milk than in a recipe that calls for “buttermilk”. You wouldn’t use this stuff for soaking grains, either. See this post plus the comments at Kelly the Kitchen Kop for a great discussion on buttermilk.
  • Mmmm…I mixed in a little cinnamon and honey and whipped this up with a fork. Slathered it on homemade buns and found just what I needed for a snack tonight since I’m fasting from sugar for Lent and wanted chocolate! SO delicious!

    Whipped Honey-Cinnamon Butter

    Whipped Honey-Cinnamon Butter

I’ve upgraded to cultured butter now – click here for instructions as well as a warm weather update.

This page is entered in Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays.

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18 Comments

18 Comments so far ↓

  • sustainableeats

    I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to follow this link – I can’t wait to try this! I just skimmed some cream off the top of the milk today and put it in the fridge until we have a little more.

    I love your vortex photos and happy dance story too. I have read many times that salt does preserve butter longer so if it is only heresay it’s pretty popular.

    I had a thought – if you cultured your clabbored buttermilk you would have the best of all worlds. You could follow Kelly’s post on how to do that. That is probably what I will do, and they you can use it for soaking grains.

    xo,
    Sustainable Eats

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katie

    Annette,
    I’d love to hear your success! I will have to look into the “best of both worlds” idea. Good thinking. I’m glad you appreciated my happy dance…you and I would get along just great! ;)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Katie

    Update: I’ve tried using a tea towel to drain and squeeze the butter, but I still prefer the hand squeezing. It’s much quicker with less waste and less mess.

    Freezing cream works just great – I made a whole GALLON of cream into butter today! I got approx. a pound and a half, or 6 sticks of butter, or 3 cups. I finally got a buttermilk culture, so I properly cultured the cream first for about 24 hours by adding 2 Tbs buttermilk per pint of cream. The resulting “creme fraiche” was super thick, but it still made butter just the same. The “buttermilk” that came off the butter was much thicker and pasty white this time, so I think it will do better in recipes and I can use it for soaking grains. Not that I need anything else to soak grains with right now, as I am drowning in raw whey from my yogurt making experience! (see that post here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/04/13/monday-mission-homemade-yogurt-the-easy-way/

    Also, if you stop the food processor or blender when it’s at the “whipped cream” consistency and you’re using cultured cream, that pretty much looks and tastes like store sour cream, without buying another special culture. “Creme Fraiche” is supposed to be like sour cream, but after you whip it a little bit it’s a much lighter and nicer texture. We’re trying it on latkes tomorrow!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • FoodRenegade

    What fun! I love your happy feet dance.

    Cheers,
    KristenM
    (AKA FoodRenegade)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Fight Back Fridays June 26th | Food Renegade

    [...] Crunchy Catholic (NAIS Letter to Editor)26. Real Food Mama (Center For Food Safety Activism)27. Kitchen Stewardship (Homemade Butter)28. Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS (Must-Read: Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal)29. Mindful Eats (breakfast [...]

  • Pam

    I love your post. You are a funny gal! I just wondered if you had ever used a butter bell. You know one of those outfits that you put your butter in and suspend it upside down in a crock with a small amount of water in it… Helps it to keep longer.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Never, but I’ve heard of them! See comments here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/10/05/monday-mission-switch-to-butter/

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Divina

    I’ve been wanting to make butter at home. There should be now excuse for me not to make it. I just learned today that I can actually use a blender. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Angie

    It’s not working. :( I was so excited to finally try to make butter today. I’ve been looking forward to this for months, but all I’m getting is froth – no butter. I wonder if I didn’t let the milk sit long enough (it sat in the fridge for about 5 hours) before taking the cream, or if I scooped out some of the milk when trying to get the cream. Any advice???

    Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Angie,
    Is your cream warm? Cold cream = whipped cream, and warm cream = butter. Sometimes it really does take a long time. If you’re not sure what’s going on and wonder if you have too much milk in your cream, you can always let it sit overnight and see if it separates again. Even with a lot of milk, I think you’d still get some butter. You’re using a blender or food processor, right? Keep trying – you’ll get it! Butter isn’t one of those things that is as easy as chocolate chip cookies….you’re doing awesome just for giving it a go.

    Let me know if I can help more! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Angie Reply:

    Thanks Katie! I let the cream sit on the counter for about an hour before I started trying to make butter out of it. I’m not sure what the temperature was when I started, but it was definitely warm after it had been in the blender awhile. Next time (which will have to be at least another week unfortunately), I’ll let the milk sit longer to make sure the cream has separated well, then I’ll let the cream sit at room temperature longer. Would you recommend a food processor instead of a blender? Or a stand mixer maybe (that’s what my husband thinks I should use)? Thanks again!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Angie,
    An hour should have been long enough, esp this time of year. Hmmm. I like the blender, only because my food processor lets cream sneak out the top = messy. I’ve not tried the stand mixer, but it should work too. Sometimes when it’s really warm, the butter almost “hides” in the cream and I’d never know it was there if I didn’t strain it. Did you see my hypotheses on that here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/cultured-butter-and-warm-weather-updates/ ?

    I hope you get it to work next time!! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Angie Reply:

    Victory! I finally successfully made butter. My husband found this YouTube video using a KitchenAid mixer: videohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQ4Q9obbc-4. It suggests the cream should be between 61 and 65 degrees F. I’m wondering if that was the trick, not necessarily the mixer. I may try it again in the blender, or at least try using a lower speed in the mixer, because it did make a bit of a mess even with the shield on the mixer.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Angie,
    Good work! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy

    Whoo! I made my first batch of butter and buttermilk! Thanks for the step by step info!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Ashley

    Katie–on reason I want raw milk so badly is to make my own butter! Maybe one day I’ll just have a cow : ) Your comment about your brother made me laugh…sounds just like me & my brother! Thanks for always being an inspiration.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Diane

    I am inspired! Thank you so much for sharing and reminding me that little steps are fine!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rochelle

    Great post! I will be making my first butter batch tomorrow. Can’t wait :)

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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