Making your own butter may sound mad, pointless, or a complete faff, but it's actually very simple, quick and gratifying.
I recall making this as a youngster in primary school; I was probably about seven. We all had to bring in the 'top of the milk' -- the cream! In yesteryear milk was delivered in a bottle, to your door step; there was no blue, green, or red top, just milk!
As an excited seven year old, I trundled to school with my little tub of top of milk. It was combined with cream from the rest of the class and we churned butter. It was amazing, simple, and stuck with me all these years.
I doubt they do this at school nowadays -- health and safety, fussy kids/teachers, and awkward parents will all get in the way of practical education and life skills.
A few decades on, here I am making butter again. It really could not be simpler.... split double cream, drain off the liquid.... ta dah .... butter. Below is, what I cheekily call 'the recipe' (more words, same process!):
I'm very fortunate to live near a local dairy farm -- Roan's Dairy. They sell milk and cream directly to local villages and towns, and also do a doorstep service. Any double cream will of course do, but I'm using the best -- local and fresh.
- 500ml double cream
- a pinch of salt to taste
The process will take around 15 minutes. For best results use a food mixer, otherwise your arm will fall off with all the mixing!
Ensure your mixing bowl is completely clean and sterile. I pour a kettle of boiling water into it and leave to stand for five minutes. Empty the water and let the bowl completely cool.
In the meantime pour the double cream into a jug and let it sit for 15 minutes to remove the 'fridge cold' feel.
I've experimented with various attachments for my mixer; the natural choice is the balloon whisk, however it's a real pain to get the butter out of later. I prefer to use the rubber beater -- it may take a minute or two longer to mix the air in/out but the resultant butter is much easier to remove.
If you have butter paddles, place these in a jug of ice cold water. Fill another jug with iced water (about 2 Litres).
500ml of double cream will yield around 350g of butter, and 100ml of butter milk.
Pour the double cream into the cool, dry mixing bowl.
If your mixer has a cover for the bowl, use it. If not, a clean linen towel around it will be very handy.
Turn the mixer up to full speed and leave it to run for several minutes. The cream will go through a variety of stages:
- 1: Whipped cream
- 2: Ice cream consistency
- 3: Scrambled eggs
- 4: Recombining to a dry mixture
- 5: Splitting into dry balls the size of corn
- 6: Getting wet and clumpy
- 7: Split to solid and liquid
The first three stages will take several minutes; the final four will happen much quicker. There is no harm in stopping the mixing to give the machine a rest, and also scrape the sides of the bowl back down to the centre.
Be careful as you get to 5 onwards as your mixer may well start to throw itself around. Hold it firm and reduce the speed a little if needed.
Stage 7 will see a solid mass of fat, and a pool of liquid. This is the time to stop mixing.
Stages 1 and 7 of the churn
Drain off the liquid -- butter milk. Set aside and make scones later :)
Beat the solid mixture for 20 seconds to extract more liquid if you can. Drain it away.
Now we wash the butter. Pour around 500ml of ice cold water (no ice) into the butter and mix slowly for a minute or so. Drain, add more water, repeat. I do this three times. The aim is to wash the butter until the liquid is almost clear. This is removing the last of the butter milk residue. Doing this will stop the butter souring.
Using a spatula push the butter up against the side of the bowl, squeezing out as much liquid as you can.
Place the butter onto a board (ideally glass, or marble) and start to paddle the butter. Squeeze it to remove water droplets. Spread it out, gather it up, squeeze.
Paddling the butter
Tip: If the butter looks like it is sweating (small water droplets) keep paddling. I use kitchen paper to keep drying the board as I go.
Spread the butter out, sprinkle half the salt, paddle it up, spread and salt again. I used Hebridean sea salt which adds a gorgeous texture to the butter, but finely ground salt works just as well.
Now shape into a block, or put into a dish.
Tip: Don't handle the butter if you can help it. The butter will melt quickly in your hands and could sour it.
Cover in grease proof paper, or in an butter dish, and store in the fridge.
Bread & Butter
The butter should last around 3 weeks with the salt. One week, with no salt. Always keep in the fridge and remove briefly to use.
If you prefer your butter soft, you have two options:
Combine some olive oil during the paddling -- about one table spoon
Remove a knob of butter from the fridge; place in a bowl of hand hot water for one minute; remove and spread.
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