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…”
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!!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- Turn it on. High, low, whatever. This is not rocket science! The only goal is to “shake up” the butter.
- Within about a minute – enough time to wipe down your blender and counter – you’ll see a nice whipped cream consistency:
- 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:
- 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.
- Pour the buttermilk through a strainer and catch the buttermilk in a measuring cup. One like a screen is best.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- Use a paper towel or clean tea towel to pat the butter dry.
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!
I’ve upgraded to cultured butter now – click here for instructions as well as a warm weather update.
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