Cultured Butter & Cultured Buttermilk
Prep Time: 2 minutes (but requires overnight rest)
Make time: 20 minutes
Yield: about 1 cup of cultured butter, and 1 cup of cultured buttermilk
You can easily scale this recipe up or down. Use twice as much milk as the amount of butter you’re wanting to make, and figure 3 tablespoons of yogurt for every cup of milk.
2 cups fresh whipping cream/heavy cream (see instructions before measuring)
6 tablespoons yogurt or creme fraiche (make sure the packaging says it contains live cultures)
Finishing salt (like Maldon’s, or gray sea salt) (optional)
Give the carton of cream a good shake. If you’re using unhomogenized milk, give it a really good shake. Measure the cream into a spotlessly clean glass or ceramic-glazed bowl (no porous plastic – it can harbor dangerous pathogens). Peer into the carton, and if you see any creamy solids clinging to the sides, use a long spoon to scrape some into the bowl.
Stir in the yogurt and very gently whisk to incorporate into the milk (gently — you don’t want to start the churning process).
Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm location (60-70°F). Let rest overnight (12 to 18 hours).
The milk mixture will thicken. Give the bowl a gentle shake. The liquid will sway, not slosh or splash, when it’s ready.
Pour the liquid into a mixing bowl (use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer) and whip on medium-low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium.*
The milk mixture will proceed through several stages: first, it forms a glossy whipping cream, followed by a thicky, grainy stage. Finally, the butter solids will break from the liquid. There will be clumps of butter and lots of liquid in the bowl. You’ll know it when it happens — stop at this point.
Gather the clumps of solid and move them to another clean bowl (reserve the liquid in the mixing bowl). If you’re going to be using all of the butter at once, you’re finished – enjoy! If you’re going to be storing the butter, or if you want to add salt, go to the next step.
Here’s the fun part. Knead, mash, schmoosh the butter in the bowl so as to strain as much liquid from the solids as possible. Use clean hands or a large, sturdy wooden spoon for this.
Add the liquid from the schmooshing bowl to the liquid in the mixing bowl. This is your cultured buttermilk! Pour into a tightly-sealing bottle or bowl and place in the fridge. Use for drinking or baking.
One final step with the butter: to prolong storage, you must remove as much of the buttermilk as possible. Rinse the butter in cold water and continue kneading. Rinse and knead until the water squeezed from the butter runs clear. If using salt, knead in the salt, then store the butter in a covered dish in the fridge. It also freezes well.
*Note: I use my stand mixer to make butter for one simple reason. When the solids break from the liquids, it happens instantaneously and, to put it bluntly, it’s a volcanic situation: buttermilk will spray everywhere. With a stand mixer, you can cover the bowl to minimize the splatter. I wrap cling wrap around the attachment head and then drape it all around the bowl, taping it down. With double-sided tape. You’ve been warned. 😉