A Fun Little Buttery Project
I made butter this past weekend.
I kid you not.
Butter. Homemade. [swoon]
When I was growing up, what my family called “butter” came in a tub and was mildly unpleasant. The flavor was very meh, but worse, I could never get the stuff (more properly known as margarine or oleo) off the knife. And it wouldn’t melt right. I avoided it at all costs. This is how food aversions are born.
So, until I hit college, when I began to cook and bake for myself, I’d never had a buttered roll, with real butter. Or that extra dollop of sweet creaminess on hot mashed potatoes. Believe it. It’s true.
But that’s okay. I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it anyway. You know how kids are.
Now I’m an adult, and although I can’t go so far as to say I can eat butter off of a spoon, I have immense appreciation of the stuff. I never substitute butter with anything else.
I still can’t stand margarine.
Here’s the recipe: organic heavy cream. Amazing, huh? All that goodness from one little ingredient. (A good rule of thumb is that you’ll need twice the amount of cream as the amount of butter you want. This pint of cream yielded about a cup of butter.)
Into the stand mixer it goes. Grandma would be so jealous. She made hers by hand back in the old country. Start off on low-medium speed, then crank it up to medium.
You know that smooth, glossy whipped cream stage? This is a couple minutes past that, and it’s starting to look a scraggly. (In this case, that’s a good thing.)
Nine minutes in, we’ve definitely got a curdy thing going. Again, good.
Whip for another minute. The liquid buttermilk is really beginning to separate from the butter fat.
Now the goal is to get as much of the milk fats out as possible. This will keep the butter from going rancid too quickly. Press the mixture through a sieve, draining off the liquid. What’s left in the sieve is creamy, delicious butter.
And here’s the fun part: in a large bowl, knead ice-cold water into the butter, squeezing to remove as much liquid as possible. Dump the liquid and repeat with fresh ice-cold water, until the liquid squeezed from the butter runs clear.
(Tip: your hands will be buttery like they’ve never been buttery before. Wash them with liquid dish washing detergent—any kind that boasts grease cutting action—instead of hand soap.)
Here’s the result of the first kneading – it only took a few rounds before the water was clear.
And that’s it. Twenty minutes, and done.
Mix in your favorite herbs and spices, if you’d like. Wrap and refrigerate.
Or do what I did and make an awesome dessert: