Friday, November 22, 2013

Making Fresh Butter (Really - It's Easy!)

We have some friends coming over tonight, and I thought it would be fun to use some extra herbs I had to make some compound butter - that is, butter with a flavoring like citrus zest, berries or herbs in it.  When I opened the fridge to grab some butter to soften, I realized that I had 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream left in a quart container.  It was a perfect opportunity to make fresh butter.  

You see, it often happens that I have to buy a pint or quart of heavy whipping cream for a recipe and don't use it all.  So, it sits in my fridge waiting for the odd splash into oatmeal or coffee.  If I needed it, I could whip it for fresh whipped cream, but today, those leftovers were used up making butter - and it is unbelievably easy.

Start by pouring 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream into the bowl of my stand mixer and turning it to high.

Let it run for 15-20 minutes.  Beat it like you are making whipped cream and then let it keep going. 15-20 minutes seems like a long time, but you want it to be nice and pretty and smooth and then break into something that looks like cottage cheese or scrambled eggs.  You will want to stop it every once in a while to scrape down the sides.  The first picture below is about halfway through and then after that is what it looks like when it is finished.

Notice that liquid has separated out from the fat solids.  This is technically buttermilk, but it isn't the same thing as the manufactured buttermilk we get in stores. 

When you get to the cottage cheese/scrambled egg stage, scrape it out into a strainer or piece of cheese cloth.  You want to drain off the liquid and then knead the butter into a ball and squeeze out any extra liquid.  This is a little easier with cheese cloth, but it isn't a big deal to just squeeze it out with your hand.

At this point, you can just spread it onto toast if you want.  Or, mash in some strawberries and spread on an english muffin.  Or, you can do what I did and chop up some fresh herbs and mash with a pinch of salt.

When you finish mixing in your extras, put the butter on a piece of plastic wrap, roll into a log, and twist the ends as tightly as you can.  Put it in the fridge and pull out when you are ready to spread.  

See - all you have to do is whip cream until it separates into liquid and fat solids (15-20 minutes), drain, flavor (if you want), and refrigerate or spread.  A perfect way to use up extra heavy whipping cream!  As you can see, my 1/2 cup cream resulted in about 2 tablespoons of butter.  You can do this with large amounts of cream as well - it just might take a little longer to separate.  It is certainly cheaper to buy your butter, but fresh butter is fun for a special occasion!
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